Google’s working on platform that brings advanced 3D scanning capabilities to mobile devices. The company started showing off a “Project Tango” smartphone prototype with the ability to create a 3D map of its environment in February. Now the Wall Street Journal reports Google is getting ready to build a tablet with similar features.
The tablet is said to feature a 7 inch screen, two rear cameras, and infrared depth sensors as well as software that lets it create 3D models of images and environments.
While that alone would be kind of cool, things get much more interesting when you figure out what you can do with those 3D models.
Applications could involve augmented reality video games that incorporate real-world objects into the game, decorating or construction apps that help you preview changes in your environment without lifting a hammer or a paint brush, or even autonomous robots: NASA plans to use Project Tango technology on floating drones in space. Seriously.
At this point it doesn’t sound like Google plans to mass produce its tablet. But the WSJ report says it will produce about 4,000 units in advance of the Google IO developer conference in late June. It seems likely that the company is hoping to get hardware prototypes into the hands of software developers who can help come up with new ways to use the technology.
As an urban planner/designer, I think this kind of tech would be extremely useful. Future apps could help democratize/crowdsource design for public spaces or pair the 3D scanning capabilities with georeferencing and a local zoning code to visualize a property’s building envelope.
Or maybe it will have nefarious uses like turning smartphones into personal monitoring systems, listening to your voice, making 3D maps of the places you go…
…for advertising, of course…
Luckily it takes two to Tango so maybe I’ll sit that one out.
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