Google introduces Project Tango's Android 3D mapping smartphone

Google introduces Project Tango's Android 3D mapping smartphone

Summary: Google's Advanced Technology and Projects group has unveiled Project Tango, a prototype smartphone that can track and then map its full 3D motion.


Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group has announced the prototype release of an Android-based 5-inch phone with 3D sensors that it calls Project Tango.

ATAP project lead Johnny Lee said in a blog post that the phone has been designed to track the full 3D motion of the device, while simultaneously creating a map of the environment. Examples of uses include capturing the dimensions of a user's home before going furniture shopping, and assisting the visually impaired navigate unassisted in unfamiliar indoor environments.

The phone is fitted out with features such as a 4MP camera, two computer vision processors, integrated depth sensing, and a motion-tracking camera. The camera enables the phone to take over a quarter of a million 3D measurements every second, updating its position and orientation in real time and combining that data into a single 3D model of the space around the user.

On the software front, the phone is integrated with development application program interfaces to provide position, orientation, and depth data to standard Android applications written in Java and C/C++, as well as the Unity Game Engine.

From today, developers will have the chance to get their hands on one of 200 available prototype dev kits. But to do so, they will need to pass their idea by Google, explaining what they plan to build with the device in project areas of "indoor navigation/mapping, single/multiplayer games that use physical space, and new algorithms for processing sensor data". The company said it expects to distribute these initial units by March 14, 2014.

Lee said the announcement of Project Tango has been a long time coming, and the aim is to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and notion.

"Over the past year, our team has been working with universities, research labs, and industrial partners spanning nine countries around the world to harvest research from the last decade of work in robotics and computer vision, concentrating that technology into a unique mobile phone," he said.

"Now, we're ready to put early prototypes into the hands of developers that can imagine the possibilities and help bring those ideas into reality."

ATAP is the same research unit that Google recently announced it will not be letting go of after Chinese giant Lenovo purchased Google's Motorola division.

Topics: Mobility, Apps, Google, Hardware, Smartphones, Software


Since completing a degree in journalism, Aimee has had her fair share of covering various topics, including business, retail, manufacturing, and travel. She continues to expand her repertoire as a tech journalist with ZDNet.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Spy tools to expand advert business by invading your privacy

    No Thanks, we haven't forgotten Google street cars.

    Oh...guess what, If your living room is missing certain things... It will show up in your YouTube or Gmail or what ever Google account you have...
    • You are

      just lost in space.
    • ooohh. fowlnet hates it.. must be good then.

      fowlnet would rather you bought this sort of thing from a twice convicted monopolist (Microsoft) with its own long list of privacy issues.. as they can clearly be trusted above all others. if anyone else does it... they can't be trusted. love shills . they make such sense.
  • Internet Trolls Really Are Horrible People

    Internet Trolls Really Are Horrible People

    Narcissistic, Machiavellian, psychopathic, and sadistic.
    • fowlnet and lovecrock are not normal trolls.

      they manage to insert pro Microsoft and anti Google rubbish into nearly every post they comment on.

      i 'd suspect them of being a hidden part of Microsoft's scroggled campaign.. spreading fear and doubt on a competitors product has long been a way Microsoft tries to compete.. spread enough negative sentiment around and hopefully some will stick..

      if someone points out that Microsoft are a twice convicted monopolist and are clearly a bad choice for your trust, it would make whomever pays these fudders wonder if their dollars are wisely spent since all they are achieving is making microsoft's history known. a history they would rather everyone forgot about.
  • Great Invention!

    That’s a great invention according to me till date which definitely helps many special people who are visually impaired to navigate easily with so called project “Tango”. Well they didn’t mention that is this phone will be wireless charging compatible? As if so it will also become easy to charge it without messing up with wires which become difficult sometimes. As I recently purchased a wireless charger for me from Amazon
    and it’s so comfortable to charge my Nexus 5 and lumia 920 simultaneously. Hope they will consider my advice in order to make the phone qi enables so that it can support Wireless Charging.
    • might be some of the same tech they are using in self driving cars.

      after all, spatial awareness is pretty important to cars that drive themselves as well.
  • Google Nexus phone

    Expecting! I like it but, Does this one work well on Lonpower Wireless Charger ? It's important  for me.