On Thursday, Google unveiled Project Tango, the next in the company’s series of inconceivable, unimaginable, unattainable pursuits. And just like searching every website, mapping the earth, and driving every street — when Google achieves the impossible, our lives are better for it.
Project Tango’s humble goal is to “to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion,” as explained in the introductory video below. The Tango prototype is a smartphone souped up with computer vision, depth and motion tracking, and able to generate a 3D model of its surroundings in real-time.
It is the first true virtual reality machine. The 3D model of the environment is only the first layer of this project. One that–in true Google mind-blowing fashion–takes over a quarter of a million 3D measurements a second! Once a phone can map and model its environment in real-time, we can add layers of information to that model and reveal them to the user through the camera. The two biggest applications that Google mentions in the video are games and indoor navigation. As a wayfinding technologist, I believe the latter is the more relevant and offers incredible potential for new ways to find your way in complex, formerly uncharted environments.
Google has already given us the confidence to navigate an unfamiliar city with Google Maps. Imagine the experience we’ll have when we can navigate an unfamiliar museum, hospital, or convention center with that same confidence. Stay tuned!