Google has unveiled a new experimental smartphone capable of mapping the surroundings in 3D and in real-time.
Called Project Tango, the smartphone, still in early stages of development, will soon be made available to researchers and software developers to test and develop applications.
Google’s California-based Advanced Technology and Projects group has been secretly working on the device for the past year and only introduced the gadget yesterday in a video on YouTube.
“Mobile devices today suppose the physical world ends at the boundaries of the screen, yet we all live in a three-dimensional world,” said project leader Johnny Lee in the video. “Our goal is to give mobile devices a human scale understanding of space and motion.”
Google has collaborated with universities, research labs and industrial partners from around the world to harness the latest advances in robotics and computer vision and concentrate them into a single smartphone.
The Tango smartphone contains sensors allowing tracking of its own motion in three dimensions in real-time and creating accurate maps of the surrounding environment.
The phone’s sensors perform about 250,000 measurements per second, continuously updating information about its position and rotation. The information is swiftly processed into a single 3D model.
“This is going to allow people to interact with the environment in a fundamentally different way, we can prototype in a couple of hours something that would take us months or even years before because we didn’t have this technology,” said Eitan Marder Eppstein, who has been working on the project.
The gadget could be particularly useful for indoor navigation to cover areas where signal from the GPS cannot be accessed. The team believes applications could stem from the project addressing special orientation needs of visually impaired people.