Google is launching today Project Tango, an Android-based prototype phone and developer kit that’s equipped with 3D sensors and computer vision chips that can track motion and build a tridimensional representation of a room.

The idea is to give developers interested in creating apps that make use of information on the users’ surrounding ways to create apps that were simply not possible in the past. Google is opening Project Tango to developers today, but only 200 of the applicants will be hand-picked to receive early access to the device.

The project is being developed by Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group, a skunkworks type group of engineers that Googled transferred from Motorola. The group is headed by former DARPA boss Regina Dugan and is also responsible of Project Ara.

According to project technical lead Johnny Lee, who worked in the past for Microsoft on the Kinect sensor, “Project Tango strives to give mobile devices a human-like understanding of space and motion through advanced sensor fusion and computer vision, enabling new and enhanced types of user experiences – including 3D scanning, indoor navigation and immersive gaming.”

The Project Tango prototype device uses a revolutionary 3D sensing chip developed by Movidius. Up until now, this kind of applications required too much power to feasibly work in commercial smartphones, but Movidius has managed a breakthrough in this area. According to TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino, “Movidius has leapfrogged ahead in the 3D-sensing market by manufacturing a ready-to-wear chip that has enormously lower power consumption. It produces over 1 teraflop of processing power on only a few hundred milliwatts of power”. That’s compared to a full watt that previous solutions required.

It seems that Google is late with the announcement, but Project Tango was already confirmed by TechCrunch and Movidius. We’re waiting for more details.

Update: Google has made the official announcement on ATAP’s Google Plus. Developers interested in developing for Project Tango can get started here.

Here’s how the development device looks:

project tango

And here how Google describes it:

[quote qtext=”Our current prototype is a 5” phone containing customized hardware and software designed to track the full 3D motion of the device, while simultaneously creating a map of the environment. These sensors allow the phone to make over a quarter million 3D measurements every second, updating it’s position and orientation in real-time, combining that data into a single 3D model of the space around you. It runs Android and includes development APIs to provide position, orientation, and depth data to standard Android applications written in Java, C/C++, as well as the Unity Game Engine. These early prototypes, algorithms, and APIs are still in active development. So, these experimental devices are intended only for the adventurous and are not a final shipping product.” qperson=”” qsource=”” qposition=”center”]

Stay tuned for more.

Bogdan Petrovan
Bogdan is the European Managing Editor of Android Authority. He loves tech, travel, and fantasy. He wishes he had more time for two of those things. Bogdan's phone is a Nexus 6P.
  • MadCowOnAStick

    I wonder what aliens think of us

    • MasterMuffin

      “Let them get a little more advanced and then we’ll make them our slaves and make them repaird our ships”

      • Alex Ohannes

        I won’t even start about how aliens that land could be hundreds of years behind us in technolgical advances. Just because they’re aliens doesn’t mean they are smarter than us!

        • MasterMuffin

          It does because they can travel lots of lightyears and I don’t see us having that kind of technology for centuries!

          • Alex Ohannes

            That’s only because you aren’t an alien! Remember, we can assume that they will be ahead of us, but just because they can travel at light-speed doesn’t mean that they are technologically advanced. To achieve light-speed, all one has to do is reverse gravity. If they can figure out a simple way to do that without advanced technology (which is just as plausible as the idea that aliens exist tin the first place), Having a good guess and KNOWING something are two very, very different things.

          • MasterMuffin

            Well I replace my “It does” with a “It most likely does” :)

      • Scotty

        Nahh, too complicated. They’ll just make us addicted to online games and trapped in virtual reality forever..

    • Arcybiskup

      They think that iOS sucks.

  • Alexander Reddicks

    Now all we need is a high frame-rate holographic projector (and a few other things) and my dream phone would be complete.

  • Google is awesome. Period.

    • Shark Bait

      Yes they are, they actually do something cool with their piles of cash, unlike some companies ….

    • dodz

      almost 2 years ago, google gave us photosphere which is based on google’s imaging and mapping on google earth cars, now project tango which is also used in google’s mapping in creating 3d space of the environment. which will come to our phones. yey!

  • Juan A C

    Excellent, I look forward to seeing what those brilliant minds can do with such array of sensors. Nowadays we have more than enough storage, memory and processing, it’s time to take the next step :D

  • Shark Bait

    See, google doesn’t need Motorola to make cool phones after all

  • Stefan

    Since they got Unity to go along with this project, I predict some awesome games in the future.

  • Rohit Naik

    Lets Bring everyone on Whatsapp

    Please be free to share the video among your friends