Google’s ‘Project Tango’ smartphone can map environments in 3-D


Google has been working on a revolutionary smartphone prototype that’s equipped with a motion tracking camera, a depth-sensing camera, and a fish-eye sensor that uses infrared to scan and create a 3-D representation of its environment.


Google has already given its 3-D scanning smartphone to several researchers and developers to experiment with a variety of exciting application possibilities. For consumers, this will mean the ability to create a three dimensional video archive of vacation attractions and places visited. This will also expand and strengthen the online shopping experience, as we can all attest to the frustration of receiving cloths that don’t quite fit. Scanning your body for size will ensure you get the right fit every-time.

Project Tango will also provide a fully immersive gaming experience that will integrate the environment around you like Nintendo’s 3DS virtual console games.


For security contractors, law enforcement, and the US military, Google’s 3-D scanning cameras can be fitted on drones to provide targeted aerial views with greater clarity and depth that’ll cost far less than current surveillance camera equipped drones. And of course, this is where technology treads dangerous ground, and why laws governing the use of such technology in military and civilian settings should be strongly regulated.

And on a more positive note, health and science professionals will also benefit in being able to scan body parts and organisms at the cellular level for the study and detection of diseases.

As cool as many of the demo videos are, Project Tango still has a lot of programming and hardware kinks to iron out. For example, the 3-D scanning feature significantly drains the smarthphone’s battery, and the program often crashes after only a few minutes of use.

In time, the technology will be perfected, and perhaps then we can begin calling these mobile devices ‘geniusphones’.





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Kristian strives to enlighten and entertain readers. In addition to his teaching and editorial responsibilities, he is working on a science-fiction novel that promises not to include exoskeleton suits and anemic aliens floating in mysterious vats of green-tinted goop.

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