Google reveals Project Tango, a smartphone to map the world around you

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Google has revealed its latest prototype from the Advanced Technology and Projects group – one of the few bits of Motorola that Google has decided to keep instead of selling it to Lenovo. Called Project Tango, the phone looks like an everyday smartphone with a 5-inch screen with a 4-megapixel camera. However, Google says that this phone will be able to learn the space around you – and in real-time.

Inside the Tango devices are a motion tracking camera and a depth sensor – both located at the back. These sensors will allow the phone to detect orientation and positioning, and then use that data to produce a 3D world of its surroundings in real-time. Google says that it could be helpful for furniture shopping, or for developers that want to incorporate a more-realistic version of augmented reality in their games.

“The goal of Project Tango is to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion,” Johnny Lee, the leader of the project, said on the website.

“As we walk through our daily lives, we use visual cues to navigate and understand the world around us. We observe the size and shape of objects and rooms, and we learn their position and layout almost effortlessly over time.┬áThis awareness of space and motion is fundamental to the way we interact with our environment and each other.”

“We are physical beings that live in a 3D world. Yet, our mobile devices assume that physical world ends at the boundaries of the screen,” Lee added.

Google has said that they will only be giving 200 prototype kits to developers – some for navigation, some for game development, and some for new applications that even they have not thought about. The units will be shipped to the lucky participants by March 14.