The company’s Project Tango wants to teach computers to understand depth
Google is reportedly working on a 7-inch tablet with 3D scanning capability, and is due to make 4,000 prototypes later this year. It will be released as part of Project Tango – an attempt to teach mobile devices how to perceive depth.
Sources told the Wall Street Journal that the tablet will be equipped with two back cameras, infrared depth sensors and software which will enable users to map the surrounding environments and create detailed 3D models of physical objects.
More news about Project Tango could be released ahead of Google I/O conference in June.
Project Tango, run by the Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP), formerly a division of Motorola, wants to help computers understand space and motion the way humans do.
According to Google, the 3D imaging technology developed by the project could improve both outdoor and indoor navigation, help disabled and spawn a new generation of immersive video games. However, the idea of supplying a company like Google with data about the environment around the user is sure to unsettle privacy advocates.
Organisations collaborating on Project Tango include Bosch, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Open Source Robotics Foundation and several US universities.
ATAP previously unveiled a 5-inch smartphone prototype equipped with IR depth cameras which could create 3D models of the environment around it. 200 units of this device should be in the hands of developers as of mid-March.
Google is famous for its tendency to release raw hardware to developers, hoping they will come up with use cases for some of its more unusual devices – and that’s exactly what happened with Google Glass, which now features a wealth of apps and retails for $1500 (£945).
Meanwhile, Intel is about to start shipping the RealSense module – a tiny, affordable circuit that can fit in a laptop bezel. It features an infrared sensor alongside an HD camera and microphone, and can enable gesture interface, voice commands, 78-point face recognition and scanning of objects to create 3D models.
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