Google's Project Tango 3D Tablet Looks Incredible, But What Exactly Can It Do?

If your iPhone no longer excites you, and your amazement over Google Glass has already waned, then Google is here to impress you once again: The Web giant is creating seven-inch Project Tango tablet with advanced 3D imaging. The Android device is being developed within Google's Project Tango, and will be equipped with two rear cameras, infrared depth sensors, and advanced software and hardware that map the phone's motion in 3D in real time as you hold it.

Say what? Well, a prototype of the tablet was introduced in February. The 5-inch smartphone came with a 4MP camera, two computer vision processors, integrated depth sensors, and a motion-tracking camera. The device was able to record over a 250,000 3D measurements per second, updating the position and rotation of the phone, and create a map in real time to build a 3D replica of the user's surroundings.

For the project, ATAP collaborated with outside companies and specialists from all over the world, including indoor mapping technology experts Paracosm, leading technology and natural sciences university ETH Zürich, and Open Source Robotics Foundation, which supports the development of open source software for robotics and product development.

ATAP Project Lead Johnny Chung Lee explains in the Project Tango promotional video: "Mobile devices today assume that the physical world ends at the boundaries of the screen. Our goal is to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion."

Google ATAP on YouTube

Google plans to produce 4,000 updated prototypes, this time in tablet form, beginning next month. Before the company starts to mass-manufacture the 3D device to the public, ATAP will send development kits to software developers in the next few months so they can start creating specific apps for the platform.

These "practical applications" range from life-changing to purely entertaining...

Advanced Virtual Gaming

Chase Cobb of Paracosm, which contributed dense indoor mapping technology to the project, says in the video, "Imagine that you scan a small section of your living room and then are able to generate a little game world in it."

Interior Decorating

One of the most practical and no-brainer ways to use the 3D tablet, as suggested by its developers, is to map out your empty house and use the technology to virtually arrange furniture and decorations before even purchasing the items.

Advanced Tracking

The proposed tablet would be able to track your position all around the world, making a 3D map of your route.

Aiding the Visually Impaired

Perhaps one of the most important proposed uses, the 3D tablet can also help the visually impaired by giving them auditory cues about where they're going.

Images: Google