When Google sold Motorola, it kept one very important piece. The Advanced Technology and Projects Group, responsible for forward-thinking ideas such as Project Ara, or the modular smartphone.
Today, Google announced a new project the group has been working on. It’s called Project Tango, and it hopes to turn phones into devices that can map the world around them in 3D. In fact, Google already has a prototype phone that can do just that and they’re ready to send it to developers.
The Tango phones are highly customized, with a motion tracking camera and depth sensor built into the hardware, and Google says the phones can use these data collectors to map their surroundings by simply being in it. For instance, if you were to walk around your home with your phone, the device would learn the shape and layout and be able to build a three dimensional map of it. The technology’s main purpose is to build detailed indoor maps to give users precise directions of unfamiliar places, but Tango could also be extremely useful to the visually impaired or even be used to create augmented reality games.
Tango is just beginning, but Google is ready to see what developers will do with it. The company says they have about 200 prototype units they plan to send to prospective developers by March 14. If you are so inclined, you can even sign up directly to be considered for receiving a phone.