Welcome Google’s project Tango, Map the world with just a phone

Google want to learn your surroundings and has built a prototype Android smartphone that can learn and map the world around it. The device is a product of a new initiative called Project Tango, and it’s ready to get the phone into developers’ hands to see what the technology can really do. Apparently the phone will learn the dimension of rooms and spaces just by being moved around inside of them — walking around your sitting room. The hope is that by creating a robust map of the world, Google’s phone could eventually give precise directions to any given point that needs to be reached

It’s an ambitious project, but that should be no surprise given who it’s coming from: Tango comes out of the Advanced Technology and Projects group — one of the few pieces of Motorola that Google has opted to hang on to rather than sell. “The goal of Project Tango is to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion,” Johnny Lee, leader of Project Tango, says. Google has 200 devices that it’s preparing to give out to developers who want to build mapping tools, games, and new algorithms that take advantage of the sensor, and it expects to send them all out by March 14th.

How it works

The Tango devices work by using a motion tracking camera and a depth sensor built into their backsides. As you move the phone around, the sensors will detect their orientation and what’s in front of them, using that data to build out a 3D map of their surroundings. While the basic goal is to create detailed indoor maps. Tango could be used to create more realistic augmented reality games or to assist the visually impaired when they’re navigating an unfamiliar area.