Google’s Project Tango uses your
phone to map your home


Google’s ‘Project Tango’ uses phones to map your home

News: Google's latest research project equips smartphones with the ability to map their surroundings and build navigable three-dimensional virtual environments that can be used to give directions indoors.

Google's hope is that the phone could give precise directions to any given point, inside or outside, by learning the dimensions of spaces just through moving around them.

"What if directions to a new location didn’t stop at the street address?" said a statement on the project website. "What if you never again found yourself lost in a new building?"

The Tango device works by using a motion-tracking camera and depth sensor built into a prototype Android smartphone. As the user walks around pointing the camera at what it sees, the sensors in the phone take 250,000 measurements of its surroundings every second and fuses this information into a three-dimensional map.

The tech giant has made 200 of the devices to give to software developers so they can design and build new mapping tools, games and algorithms.

While the initial application is to help create better navigation tools, Tango could be used to create augmented reality games or assist visually impaired users when they're attempting to navigate an unfamiliar area.

It could also be used to give precise measurements of each room in your house, so if you're wondering whether that new sofa will fit into your living room, Tango will be able to tell you.

The project has been developed by the tech giant's Advanced Technology and Projects group, which is one of the few remaining acquired parts of Motorola that Google decided to hang onto when it subsequently sold the company to Lenovo.

Other projects to emerge out of Motorola include Project Ara, a modular smartphone that allows users to create their dream smartphone via a series of customisable building blocks.

  • Lapis

    Site surveying just got a little easier.

  • James Burt

    Wow. So much potential in our market.

  • sluntchop

    Uhh, are there that many people getting hopelessly lost inside of buildings. Another negative note, what does google benefit from gaining this 3D data. A little freaky to me. On the positive side, I can see how this could be extremely useful data to future architecture if it tracked how people actually moved through spaces.

    • Carl

      Agreed it’s freaky. Google is a data collection and organisation company. I guess unlike street view, they cannot send cameras into every household in the world and protect themselves through legally saying its public property, so what better way to access the data than to invent a way for people to do it for them and sell the idea by making the advantages seem like they are for the user, but in effect they are for Google.

      The hidden agenda is what worries me, not that they want to “take over the world” but that they try to hide the actual intention through selling potential uses as the main driving force behind the product creation. Just seems dishonest to me.

  • cubert

    Google, the next super-villain in any futuristic super hero story, how they rule our world. Anyway, why do they always discover new stuff that attacks our privacy?

  • amsam

    Yeah, maybe I’m unimaginative but I think they’re overselling how useful this is going to be. Still, good for blind people and site surveying for architecture/film & TV. And as noted, of course it’s always lovely to find a new way to give Google more information about our lives.

  • bnh_b

    If the software is compatible with any CAD software, this will minimise time spent on the mundane but necessary task of mapping the existing context and more time spent on the fun part – DESIGN.

    Looking forward to see the many compatible commercial applications.

  • johny ive

    Oh s***…