Google maps and street view has already changed the way we navigate the world around us but now its mission is to 3D map what we can see, using mobile phones, as we see it.
It has build a 5” prototype phone with customised software and hardware which can build a real-time 3D map of wherever you point the phone.
Project Tango, an international collaboration, is aiming to give mobile devices an understanding of the space we live in, as well as the motions it is possible to make.
There are thousands of potential applications for the software and hardware which, include those that will solve simple everyday problems to those which will improve the lives of others.
One possibility is being able to see where products are located in large supermarkets by using a real-time map on your phone.
Google hopes the technology will be able to create a better living environment which is more connected. It says possible uses for the developments will include being able to map the homes of the visually impaired and provide them with directions to help their mobility.
Sensors in the phones, developed by the search giant, make more than 250,000 3D measurements every second and while doing so update the position of the phone and create a map of the environment.
The phone runs Android software and includes development API information, with which Google is encouraging developers to create their own apps and uses for the software.
The team behind Project Tango have been working with universities, research labs and industrial partners to help harvest ten years of research from robotics and computer vision to concentrate the technology into a mobile phone. So far the team has included partners from across the world.
Johnny Chung Lee, the project lead at Google’s ATAP said: “We are physical beings that live in a 3D world yet mobile devices today assume that physical world ends at the boundaries at the screen.
“Our goal is to give mobile devices a human scale understanding of space and motion.
“We have created a prototype phone containing highly customised hardware and software designed to allow the phone to track its motion in full 3D in real-time as you hold it.”
At present 200 prototype development kits have been created and Google has already allocated some of these devices for projects in the areas of indoor navigation, single/multiplayer gaming and new algorithms for processing sensor data.
It is calling for professional developers to take control of the other devices and help to build more than a touch-screen application and say it expects to have allocated all its devices by the middle of March.
If you would like to receive one of the developer kits you can apply to Google directly.
Images and video courtesy of the Google’s Project Tango.