When you think of Google and smartphones, you think of Android, right? But Google has its fingers in a number of smartphone technology pies, and one of the most exciting of those is Project Tango. It could transform the way you see the world – or at least, the way your smartphone sees it.
So, what exactly is Project Tango? Well, it’s the culmination of over a decade of research in 3D mapping, virtual worlds and more between Google, universities and a company called Movidius, who are responsible for a lot of the tech that goes into Project Tango.
HOW DOES PROJECT TANGO WORK?
A Project Tango device ‘sees’ the environment around it through a combination of three core functions.
First up is motion tracking, which allows the device to understand its position and orientation using a range of sensors (including accelerometer and gyroscope).
Then there’s depth perception, which examines the shape of the world around you. Intel provides a vital cog in this respect with its RealSense 3D camera. With this component on board, a device can gain accurate gesture control and snappy 3D object rendering among other things.
Finally, Project Tango incorporates area learning, which means that it maps out and remembers the area around it.
WHAT CAN PROJECT TANGO DO?
Well there’s a bunch of obvious, but useful, stuff that Tango is capable of. And then there’s the range of potential applications that people and businesses are just starting to think of.
For example, you can use a Project Tango device to instantly measure a room and record an area’s dimensions. This would mean that you don’t have to stand around Ikea with a paper measuring tape scratching your head with an undersized pencil while you try and figure out if that sofa bed will fit in your spare room. You’ll instantly have the information there on your phone.
A phone or tablet packing Project Tango and a RealSense camera makes such everyday tasks a lot simpler.
There’s also potential for helping those whose eyesight may be fading. Tango recognises where a device is in relation to the environment so it can send signals by sound, or even voice, to the user. Researchers at the University of Lincoln are working on just that.
To give an idea of the potential accuracy and sophistication we’re talking about here, Intel has plugged its RealSense camera (which is utilised in Project Tango devices) into drones so they can automatically avoid obstacles – even moving ones – without the need of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity.
PROJECT TANGO MEANS BUSINESS
It’s not all fun and games. Early reports suggest that Project Tango could have some genuinely useful business applications to it.
Whether it’s to map a house for an estate agent to put online or helping robots better interact with an environment, there are countless applications that can help companies do things quicker and smarter.
Collaborations with retailers like Walgreens and Target have already started in the US. Aimed at helping you part with your cash more efficiently, they’re still in their infancy but give a glimpse into the shop of the future.
The First Consumer Phone to Feature Project Tango
at CES 2016, Lenovo has finally introduced the first Tango-ready smartphone, the Phab 2 Pro, a successor to the original Phab. What sets the Phab 2 Pro apart from other smartphones is its extra-large screen, which measures 6.4 inches and has a resolution of 1440 x 2560, and a wide-angle camera coupled with a special depth-sensing unit.
The smartphone itself is just 8.9 mm thick and is made entirely out of aluminum. The integrated fingerprint scanner enhances the overall security, while the 2.5D curved glass panel makes the device look like a true premium product.
Understandably, the sophisticated technology behind Project Tango requires quite a bit of processing power. That’s why Lenovo is using a special Tango Edition of the Snapdragon™ 652 processor with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of built-in storage space.
Pictures can be taken using the 16 MP rear camera or 8 MP front camera. Both camera have a super-fast autofocus and work hand-in-hand with 3 microphones for 360 voice capture with noise-cancelling. Finally, a spacious 4050 mAh battery with 2.4x turbocharging is there to ensure that customers can enjoy the plethora of new experiences without any limitations.