Google’s Project Tango was first announced two years ago and has been in the experimental phase since. But on 7 January at CES, Lenovo announced that it will release the first consumer smartphone with Google’s Project Tango hardware and software inside it, by June-July this year.
Project Tango lets you map the 3D space around you by using a combination of cameras such as a regular camera, an integrated depth sensing camera and a motion tracking camera. The 3D space mapping is done in real time and can help out with navigating within shopping malls and other internal locations. It also lets you interact with your real surroundings thereby adding a layer of augmented reality to the mix.
Project Tango is an imaging technology that uses a combination of various sensors to view the environment around you and generate spatial awareness for your phone. Developed by a team led by former Kinect lead Johnny Lee, Tango was created by Google’s Advanced Technology And Projects group, and uses a number of different sensors on your phone or tablet to create a sophisticated picture of the world around it.
[youtube src=”Qe10ExwzCqk”/]The phone which will be released by Lenovo will be a consumer facing device and will come under $500 (approx Rs 33,400). The device is expected to come with a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset and will have a display size under 6.5-inches. Lenovo will be using an RGB camera, a depth sensing camera module and a fish eye lens on its Project Tango phone – which will be arranged in a vertical module.
Before the announcement Project Tango lead Johnny Lee showed some demos of what can be done with this project. He used the camera module on the prototype Project Tango tablet to measure the area of a room, find the height of a ceiling, play a game of digital Jenga with a colleague where in the Jenga blocks were visible only on the tablets.
He also demoed real time 3D mapping of not just fixed objects but the crowds as well. After having 3D mapped the stage, he showed how you can virtually fit furniture into the space. He also proceeded to showcase a virtual pet which can actually follow you or interact with the elements in your 3D maps. Clearly the early adopters of Project Tango will be geeks who are working on AR/VR software products.