updated 08:59 pm EST, Thu February 20, 2014
Google makes 200 developer kits ready for distribution
The Google Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) skunkworks unveiled its latest project earlier today -- Project Tango. The project's stated goals are to "give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion." The first tangible product from the effort is a five-inch phone containing customized hardware and software, able to track the full-3D motion of the device, while simultaneously mapping the space at the same time.
Over the last year, Google's ATAP group have "been working with universities, research labs, and industrial partners spanning nine countries around the world to harvest research from the last decade of work in robotics and computer vision, concentrating that technology into a unique mobile phone." The first prototypes of the device are now ready for distribution to developers.
Google claims that the installed sensors allow the phone to "make over a quarter million 3D measurements every second, updating its position and orientation in real-time, combining that data into a single 3D model of the space around you." The new device runs a flavor of Android, and includes APIs to provide depth, position, and orientation information to applications written in C/C++, Java, and the Unity Game Engine.
Google is seeking developers who will "push the technology forward and build great user experiences on top of this platform" above and beyond that of just a touch-screen app. The company has constructed 200 prototype dev kits, with allocations for navigation, gaming, and other unique applications of the sensor data. All of the available units will be distributed by March 14.