Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Project Tango

Virtual Reality is beginning to gain prominence in the news. With the introduction of the Samsung Gear VR headset and their release of the Samsung S7, not to mention the Playstation VR or even HTC’s Vive, VR technology is exciting and is going to swamp tech news in the months to come. One of the biggest items of news is going to be Google going into the next phase of VR and Project Tango.

So what is Project Tango? Project Tango is a technology platform that has been developed by Google. The project has been in the works for years under the aegis of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP), which is an R&D outfit. Johnny Lee heads Project Tango. Tango was integrated into two prototype devices – the Yellowstone tablet and the Peanut phone – a couple of years ago. However, these prototypes were too expensive to mass market and in any case were meant more for developers (click here) and in some cases demos. 

This brings us to the question of what the Project Tango technology does. The platform processes information from a wide range of sensors in a very short time. These sensors can be infra-red cameras or wide-angle cameras or even infra-red emitters which are something along the lines of radar. Once processed, this gives the device 3-D motion tracking and depth sensing, which allows the device to know where exactly it is in relation to the rest of the room and how it is moving through the physical space around the user of the device.

These qualities make the device perfect for augmented reality, give you exact measurements of the dimensions in the room and even help with pathfinding indoors. Google has now partnered with Lenovo to bring this technology to the public via the first mobile phone which has Project Tango enabled on it. 

The whole point of Project Tango is that it creates a paradigm shift in the way we have used devices to interact with our environment. It can function and map indoors so it isn’t just dependent on GPS. It can ‘recognize’ environments it has already been to before and measure them accurately. Furniture shoppers could use such a feature to determine whether a piece of furniture could fit into the space. Applications can also be created that will help the user explore the space around them and even turn their worlds into virtual 3-D worlds.