This Is The World's Coolest Android-Based Phone That You Won’t Be Able To Buy... Yet

Google has announced Project Tango, an Android-based prototype 5″ phone and developer kit with advanced 3D sensors out of its Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) hardware skunkworks group.

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Google Wants To Build A New Kind Of Smartphone, One That Can See Your Environment Just Like You Can, Or Help Blind People Navigate The Visible World. This Isn't A New Version Of Android, At Least Not Yet; It’s A New Experimental Beast Entirely.

Google calls it Project Tango

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“The goal of Project Tango is to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion,” Johnny Lee, who leads Google’s Project Tango team, said in a video on the project site.

WATCH: The Introduction Video Of Project Tango, Here:

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The 5-Inch Phone Will Run Android And Be Equipped A Series Of 3D Sensors Capable Of Taking More Than A Quarter Of A Million Measurements Each Second. Google Envisions These Sensors Will Have A Number Of Applications From Gaming To Indoor Navigation.

Beginning today, Project Tango is being opened to developers, but the search giant is only allowing 200 of the applicants will be hand-picked to receive early access to the device. Developers will have to provide Google with a clear idea of what they want to build with the device and the company expects to allocate all devices by March 14th, 2014.

“Project Tango strives to give mobile devices a human-like understanding of space and motion through advanced sensor fusion and computer vision, enabling new and enhanced types of user experiences – including 3D scanning, indoor navigation and immersive gaming,” said Johnny Lee, ATAP’s technical program lead.

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It will allocate the devices to developers who want to build apps for “indoor navigation/mapping, single/multiplayer games that use physical space, and new algorithms for processing sensor data.”
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This project is developed under ATAP, which is Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects section, which is a skunkworks type group of engineers that worked for Motorola, but are sticking with Google after the Lenovo purchase that was announced last week.

Using Its Sensors, The Phone Doesn’t Just Track Motion, But It Can Actually Build A Visual Map Of Rooms Using 3D Scanning

The company believes the combination of these sensors with advanced computer vision techniques will open up new avenues for indoor navigation and immersive gaming, among many other things.

Tango exists as a 5-inch Android phone prototype. The prototype phone has customized hardware and software, which allows it to track the motion of the device in full 3D in real time. The suite of sensors can make more than 250 million 3D measurements every second.

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The phones are outfitted with a compass and gyros, just like any other phone, but in addition, they feature Kinect-like visual sensors that can scan the room around the phone.

The Device Uses A Revolutionary 3D Sensing Chip Developed By Movidius. Up Until Now, These Kind Of Applications Required Too Much Power To Feasibly Work In Commercial Smartphones, But Movidius Has Managed A Breakthrough In This Area.

Google is using Movidius’ Myriad 1 vision processor platform for Project Tango. For the longest time, embedding these kinds of sensors into phones was not just prohibitively expensive, but because it tends to be computationally demanding, they would also drain a phone’s batteries rapidly.

The prototype phone includes a 4MP camera, two computer vision processors, integrated depth sensing, and a motion tracking camera.

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In Its Announcement, Google Asks:

'What if you could capture the dimensions of your home simply by walking around with your phone before you went furniture shopping? What if directions to a new location didn’t stop at the street address? What if you never again found yourself lost in a new building?'

The handset can automatically build a 3D map of anywhere the user is, allowing for far better indoor navigation

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It’s Unclear Though When Such A Project Will Be Commercially Available, If Ever. We'll Update You If There Are Any Future Developments In Project Tango.

A prototype smartphone from Google's Project Tango.

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