SAN FRANCISCO -- Project Tango will be in consumer hands as early as next year, speakers at Google's I/O developer conference said today. Google is in early engagements with LG Electronics to produce the 3D depth-sensing tablet next year.
"Project Tango is a focused effort to work with the hardware and software ecosystem to advance the state of 3D sensing on mobile," technical program lead Johnny Lee told attendees. "The compute is genuinely here to do amazing things with our devices. What's missing is the hardware and software."
Project Tango is a product of Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group. Its fourth project is a tablet designed to introduce developers to 3D. The seven-inch Android tablet runs on a Nvidia Tegra K1 processor with 120 GB SSD and 4 GB of RAM, a 4 megapixel/2 micron camera, a high-speed light-sensitive sensor, and a custom motion tracking camera. Google demonstrated tablets with PMD and Mantis Vision depth sensors.
A hardware breakdown of the Tango tablet.
"Just to demonstrate that we're not specific to any one sensor, but what LG chooses to put in their tablets is up to them," a Google engineer said. "We would love it if there were a lot of different form factors, different price points. We don't think there's just one way to do Project Tango at its core."
The Project Tango Development Kit will be made available this summer. Lee showcased a variety of programs the Tango team of ATAP members, universities, and companies designed. A location sensing and mapping program required used no GPS, WiFi, or Bluetooth to map a user's location.
An example of 3D sensing capabilities.
An intern took the tablet and walked up and down the stairs of a 41,000-square-foot building, mapping the staircase in colorful 3D with only motion sensors and light. After combining tracking and depth sensor information, the tablet can capture an environment with only 1% drift. Lee also created a model walking around his home, and he mapped the stage at the I/O in real-time.
A 3D staircase map created without GPS.
"If you capture the data and store it for offline processing, you can do" much higher-quality images, Lee said as he changed the rough 3D image of his garage to a clearer picture.
3D mapping with offline computing creates a clearer image.
Mobile games based on 3D motion sensing and programs that can turn a 3D mapped room into a "fantasy world" for gaming were also on display. Lee said other aspects of Project Tango include a free-flying robot that will be sent to navigate the International Space Station in August.
"This type of technology will become part of the tools we want to provide, but it's not there today. We're working actively with companies and universities to improve the software stack," he said. "There's a tremendous amount of work to do… and I think the future is awesome."
— Jessica Lipsky, Associate Editor, EE Times