Of all the experimental, “Skunkworks” projects that Google is currently working on; Project Tango is perhaps one of my favorites. Project Tango offers a new way to interact with our world through the use of 3D motion and real-time depth sensing. Combined with custom software and hardware sensors, Project Tango devices are capable of performing over a quarter million 3D measurements per second to create a 3D model of the world we see.
There are endless possibilities with Project Tango, as Google clearly notes. “What if you could capture the dimensions of your home simply by walking around with your phone before you went furniture shopping? What if the visually-impaired could navigate unassisted in unfamiliar indoor places? What if you could search for a product and see where the exact shelf is located in a super-store? Imagine playing hide-and-seek in your house with your favorite game character, or transforming the hallways into a tree-lined path.”
But since we are all gamers at heart, what we really want to know about are the gaming applications for Project Tango. Luckily, we were able to get some first-hand experience with virtual reality gaming using Project Tango at GTC 2015, and the results are pretty impressive. The first demo involved Zombie Gunship Reality, which allows you to take aim at killer zombies from the relative safety of the air. Using an NVIDIA Tegra K1-powered Project Tango Developmental Tablet, you’re able to aim your weapon by moving the tablet around in front of you, which provides for a more immersive experience than just tapping/swiping away on the screen alone to move. As you walk and move the tablet around in the real world, your moments are repeated on the screen (you just have to see it for yourself in the video below).
Google also demoed how a Project Tango device could be used to create a 3D capture of a room or even an entire building, giving users a way to navigate through unfamiliar surroundings without the need for Wi-Fi or GPS hardware. Directional arrows are even overplayed on the real-time feed of your surroundings to point you to your destination, while a simple “landmark” designates your endpoint. For any of you that have wondered around aimlessly in the LVCC at the Consumer Electronics Show held every January in Las Vegas, this is a lifesaver.
If you’d like to try out Project Tango on your own, you can get in line with the rest of us to grab a development kit. Current kits are available in a 7-inch tablet form-factor and include NVIDIA’s Tegra K1 processor with a whopping 4GB of RAM, a positively massive 128GB of storage, motion tracking cameras, depth sensors, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and LTE connectivity.