Google Invites Developers to Submit Project Tango App Ideas

The company will fund the best Project Tango ideas and provide engineering support to developers to help them get product to market.

Google Project Tango

Google wants software developers to submit ideas for utility and gaming applications based on the company's emerging Project Tango computer-vision technology.

Developers who submit application ideas that catch Google's attention will receive funding and engineering support to bring their products to market in an expeditious fashion, the company announced Jan. 8.

As an added bonus, the selected applications will be featured on Lenovo's newly announced Project Tango smartphone when it becomes available later this year, Johnny Lee, technical project lead at Project Tango, said in a blog post announcing the app incubator program.

"All you need to do is tell us about your idea and explain how Project Tango technologies will enable new experiences," Lee wrote.

Google wants developers who are interested in submitting their ideas to include a project schedule, visual mock-ups of their ideas, smartphone app screenshot, storyboards and some other details. It also wants developers to provide company details and past application development experience.

The deadline for submitting ideas is Feb. 15, and Google will get back to developers by March 15, Lee said.

Project Tango combines motion tracking, depth perception and what Google describes as "area learning" to make smartphones and other mobile devices more spatially capable.

As Google describes it, Project Tango will give a mobile device a way to figure out its physical position relative to its surroundings at any give time. The technology, for instance, uses motion tracking to monitor device movement and orientation so it can identify where inside a room the device might be or whether it is facing up or down or is tilted. Similarly, a Project Tango device uses area-learning concepts to note the key physical features in its surroundings so it is able to recognize the place again later.

A depth sensor built into Project Tango devices will enable the devices to detect the shape of an environment or objects in it. The depth-perception capability will let Project Tango device users interact with their environment in new ways—such as creating a digital 3D model of their surroundings or creating interactions between real and virtual objects, according to Google.

Lee provided a couple of examples of applications that take advantage of such capabilities. One is an application being developed by home improvement retailer Lowe's that will allow the owner of a Project Tango-enabled smartphone to visualize how a new fridge might fit in their kitchen. Another is an application developed by Schell Games that lets users play a game of virtual Jenga on any surface.

Google offers a Project Tango development kit consisting of an Android device, a depth-sensing camera, a wide-angle camera, a sensor and associated software. The kits allow developers to explore how to take advantage of Project Tango to enable navigation without GPS, create virtual 3D worlds, measure and scan spaces, and create game apps that are capable of detecting their surroundings.

According to Google, thousands of developers have already purchased these kits and are using them to develop Project Tango-enabled smartphone apps.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is an award-winning independent journalist and tech content creation specialist covering data security and privacy, business intelligence, big data and data analytics.