Project Tango LG Tablet Coming 2015

Posted: Jun 27 2014, 12:47am CDT | by , Updated: Jun 27 2014, 12:50am CDT, in News | Tablets

Project Tango LG Tablet Coming 2015
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Google’s Project Tango — an effort to develop mobile devices that can map the space around you — is set to be in consumers’ hands next year, Google announced Thursday at its annual developers conference.

Tango project lead Johnny Lee told a packed room that they had started “early engagement” with LG to make a consumer device. The project will also integrate with several game engines.

Project Tango, part of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects lab, already does amazing things. Using a camera, motion sensor and depth sensing capabilities, it can see empty space and structures like a human does effortlessly, every day. It can track your path and elevation — and what you see while moving through it — without GPS, wifi or bluetooth.

“You, sitting in your seat, roughly understand the size of this room as well as the position and orientation of the person sitting next to you,” Lee said. “This sense of spacial perception is remarkable but we take it for granted every day.”

The possible applications live in a world where machines can understand their physical environment like a human can. The visually impaired could navigate new spaces, led by a tablet. Free-flying robots could navigate space.

And it’s coming to map your home. Lee’s demo showed an intern walking up a staircase and through an office, as a real-time model of the staircase, jagged steps and all, appeared alongside. He also showed a video of a similar path as he walked through his own house as if giving a tour to a friend.

But this time, the friend, Tango, can remember everything about the space — and turn it into a video game.

“With the geometry of your house, we can create fantasy lands in your home,” Lee said. In his first demo, he threw a block onto a switch — but first, he had to walk forward several steps on stage to get close to it in the game. In a second game demo, he moved through a fantasy wooded land — set into the 3D map of his home — and squatted down to talk to a tiny wizard.

The developer prototype is a 7-inch tablet with a tiny camera that uses a fish-eye lens for wide peripheral vision with a focused lens for direct vision, a motion-tracking camera and integrated depth sensing. It’s enough for developers to begin playing around with building games and other applications given a human-scale sense of perception.

“This is cool stuff, isn’t it?” Lee said. “There’s a tremendous amount of work to do when we think about what we can do when our devices have this awareness.”

Follow Ellen Huet on Twitter at @ellenhuet.

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