More Google Project Tango specs revealed, including 4 cameras

by Liam McCabe

posted Monday, March 17, 2014 at 12:55 PM EDT


You may never have to use measuring tape again. More details have emerged about Google’s Project Tango, a 3D mapping tool in the body of a smartphone, including some interesting imaging modules.

Project Tango is designed to create an accurate 3D map of any environment, using just cameras and gyroscopes built into a 5-inch Android phone. Imaging units include a standard 4-megapixel camera, a fish-eye camera, a low-res depth-sensing unit, and a typical front-facing camera as well. The diversity of camera types helps to gather rich information about the environment—about a quarter-million measurements per second, plus some serious processing to turn it into an accurate model.

The applications are endless, ranging from gaming and augmented reality solutions down to just simply being able to measure whether furniture will fit through your door and into your home. Architects, engineers, designers, and even rescue teams and first responders could stand to benefit from a device like this. The technology falls under the banner of computational imaging, a fast-growing category that includes everything from refocusing apps to light-field cameras like the Lytro. Apple appears ready to test the waters as well.


Technical challenges still abound at this point. There’s the matter of working out the kinks in software—Project Tango will have some modeling quirks at first. And computational imaging requires a ton of processing power, which strains the small batteries used in smartphones.

We’ll soon start to get an idea of how this tech holds up up in the real world, as Project Tango prototypes started shipping to developers late last week. It’ll be quite a while before anything like this threatens to replace your DSLR for high-res photography, but projects like this are a major step forward for imaging technology.

(via DPReview,