Project Tango camera specs revealed – IR and extended FOV sensors included

by: Jonathan FeistMarch 17, 2014

project tango

Some camera specifications for Google’s Project Tango have been revealed. It turns out that the Phone comes equipped with four, yes 4, built-in camera sensors, including two extended Field of View sensors, an IR depth sensor and a normal camera sensor to round it all out.

Chromium web browser Issue # 352542 has an exciting title all in its own, “Add Project Tango device support to Chrome.” After a brief description of the project, the report describes Tango’s special cameras/ranging sensors. First up, a modest 4MP rear camera, but that is where ‘normal’ stops. According to this report, Project Tango will come with two fish eye cameras, 180° Field of View (FOV) on the rear and 120° FOV on the front, the latter being roughly the FOV of the human eye. Camera sensor number four is a 320×180 pixel infrared depth sensing camera.

If you are unfamiliar with Project Tango, it is the brainchild of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group. It is a phone that is capable of creating a full 3D map of an environment. Current uses for the technology have included games that turn your physical living space into a virtual game, 3D mapped building interiors that could go up to Google Maps, improved robotics sensory and navigation aids for the visually impaired. We described Project Tango in detail a while back, but do check out their cool video below.

The infrared camera on Project Tango is a part of the OV4682 3D depth sensor, built by Omnivision. Combining input between the 4MP shooter and the IR sensor allows the image to be processed into 3D mappings of an environment. The equipped sensors could lead to Project Tango providing future image processing and post-capture capabilities, such as adjustable image focus like is found on the Lytro Camera and Samsung’s new Galaxy S5 ISOCELL camera.

The ATAP team says that they’ve handed out all of their currently available developer units to third party software developers. The list of partners includes Bosch, the Open Source Robotics Foundation and a few universities, amongst others. We are excited to see what uses they come up with using Project Tango.

Do you think Google is doing the right thing by focusing on innovative new camera uses, as opposed to competing in the megapixel space race?

  • Ian Huntly

    The new uses seem much more interesting than yet more pixels. The current pixel density already way exceeds the quality of the lenses.

    • Jonathan Feist

      I agree Ian. Pixel count is important, but certainly not the only factor in overall image quality.

      I can’t wait to see how Google’s 3D depth sensors stack up against the dual lense/focus others are playing with.

  • Dimitar Gospodinov

    I don’t think this is going to find any place in a smarphone it is more for robotics and such. I think they made the prototype just to demostrate that a mobile processor can handle it.

    • Jonathan Feist

      That may be true. But I still see them rolling out some sort of consumer product, like photosphere, that they can ultimately use to collect data for Google Maps.

      • chaki-

        And not just for Maps….

      • Dimitar Gospodinov

        Yeah you might be right too…I am saying it ’cause I don’t see myself using something like that…maybe some games but nothing really practical (for me) maybe some other product as you said (not a phone tho)….maybe a game console …don’t know

  • Rooney-

    Yes, google is heading right way and not into mega pixels race.

  • Microsoftjunkie

    So basically, they beat MS Kinect implementation in phones?

  • Some Dude

    Google does lots of stuff for no particular reason other than “because”

  • Joe Basso

    the OV part is NOT a depth sensor… it’s only an RGB IR camera… can you guys pls add some technical rigor to your articles.

    • Jonathan Feist

      Hey Joe, I apologize if this sounds inaccurate to you. My understanding is that image capture from the RGB IR camera is able to be processed for depth. (source:

      If this is inaccurate, please do forgive me for accepting the manufacturers own explanation of their tech as truth. I would gladly accept further education on the topic, if you have anything you’d be kind enough to reference. (Just in case, there was no sarcasm there at all, I do wish to hear a better explanation of the tech.) Thank you.

      • Joe Basso

        the OV sensor only collects image data, and transfers to the host. in COMBO with other electronics like a structured light illuminator, AND the right computer vision algorithms, then yes, the WHOLE system is a depth ‘camera’, so to speak. The OV website is only saying that the OV sensor is appropriate for use in such a depth analysis system. See a Primesense primer or structured light primer on wikipedia for more background.

        • Jonathan Feist

          Awesome, thank you Joe.