Google’s Project Tango makes Smartphones more Human

by Matt Klassen on March 18, 2014

When Google shipped Motorola Mobility off to Lenovo earlier this year for a fraction of what the company paid for it the prevailing thought was that the search engine giant had once again failed in the mobile game, but with most of us having long guessed that Google’s interest in Motorola was only temporary, the company’s true intentions are revealed by what parts of Motorola it didn’t divest: Moto’s Advanced Technologies and Projects division.

It was that division of Motorola that was responsible for the more ambitious, progressive, and futuristic projects within the company, initiatives such as the company’s modular smartphone (Project Ara) and the recently revealed 3D mapping phone (Project Tango), lending credence to the thought that the only things Google is really interested in developing in-house are those that push the boundaries of current technology.

While Google hasn’t revealed its specific plans for any of the Motorola projects, the company does seem particularly interested in Project Tango, unveiling the initiative last month and calling on developers to begin thinking about how to fully utilize “a mobile device that shares our sense of space and movement, that understands and perceives the world the same way we do.”

Still in its barebones development stage, Google’s Project Tango intends to be the next evolution of the smartphone, using multiple cameras in order to render a 3D map of the world around us.

As the Project Tango website explains, “Our current prototype is a 5” Android phone containing highly customized hardware and software designed to track the full 3-dimensional motion of the device as you hold it while simultaneously creating a map of the environment. These sensors allow the phone to make over a quarter million 3D measurements every second updating its position and orientation in real-time combining that data into a single 3D model of the space around you.”

With such technology Google believes it can change the way we use our mobile devices to access and interact with the world around us. “What if you could walk into a store and see exactly where that thing you need to buy is, or play hide-and-seek in your home with that character from your favourite game, or help the visually-impaired navigate that place they have never been able to go on their own? We believe the possibilities are vast,” the website states.

While little is officially known about the specifications and features of such a revolutionary smartphone, late last week uncovered a few tidbits regarding the phone’s proposed four camera system. Although the phone utilizes a rather underwhelming 4-megapixel rear camera, the big upgrades are the other lenses, a 180-degree fisheye camera, a depth-of-field camera, and a front camera with a 120-degree field-of-view, the latter “described as mimicking the field of view of the human eye.”

As with robots, self-driving cars, and Google Glass, it’ll be interesting to see where Google is able to take this forward-thinking project, but given the fact it does less to alienate the user than the company’s other aforementioned initiatives, I likely already has a leg up.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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