Google's new smartphone with 3D sensors

Posted Feb 21, 2014 by Tim Sandle
Google has unveiled a prototype smartphone with "customised hardware and software" that enables the user to create 3D maps of their surroundings.
A Google logo is seen at the entrance to the company s offices in Toronto
A Google logo is seen at the entrance to the company's offices in Toronto
� Chris Helgren / Reuters, Reuters
The potential applications for the new smartphone include indoor mapping, helping the visually-impaired navigate unfamiliar indoor places unassisted and gaming, according to The Verge. The technology works by the device having sensors that allow it make over 250,000 3D measurements every second and update its position in real-time.
While current GPS technology is accurate to within a few meters, it is not necessarily powerful enough to help you find the front door of a shop. In theory, Google's new device will "give directions to a checkout, the meat counter or screen 5 at the local cinema", according to Damon Rose writing for the BBC.
Using rather elaborate language, Google discussed the device in a tech brief: "We are physical beings that live in a 3D world. Yet, our mobile devices assume that physical world ends at the boundaries of the screen." The note went onto state: "The goal of Project Tango is to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion. We're ready to put early prototypes into the hands of developers that can imagine the possibilities and help bring those ideas into reality."
Google’s Project Tango prototype runs on Android and offers development APIs to help Android apps built on Java, C/C++ and the Unity Game Engine to learn data about the phone’s position, orientation and depth. So far, Read-Write notes, Google has "16 Project Tango partners and counting".