Google's Project Tango to Grow Its 3D Indoor Mapping Goals: Report

The expansion of the Google's Project Tango reportedly will get some interesting attention at this week's Google I/O developer conference.

smartphones, Google, Google I/O 2016, Project Tango, 3D mapping, indoor mapping, Lenovo

Google's Project Tango initiative, which aims to help provide and broaden 3D mapping inside buildings to users via specially equipped smartphones, is expected to receive some key program boosts at this week's Google I/O 2016 developer conference.

Google and its Alphabet Inc. parent are planning a "big expansion of the technology this year and ultimately want to make it ubiquitous," an unnamed source who is familiar with the plans told Bloomberg, according to a May 12 story. "Job postings and recent updates to Tango's developer software show steps toward this ambitious goal."

The Google I/O conference will be held May 18 to 20 on the company's Mountain View, Calif., campus.

At Google I/O, the company will reveal details about how it wants to use Project Tango to digitally map the interiors of buildings in 3D "down to a resolution of a few inches," as well as find ways to make money in the expanding marketplace of virtual reality, the story reported.

Google's Project Tango was introduced in February 2014 as an initiative to compress current understanding about robotics and computer vision into a mobile phone, according to a past eWEEK article. The idea of the project is to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion that will allow the devices to provide more data to users than is seen on a touch-screen. Project Tango is designed to capture and track large amounts of data using 3D measurements, which is then processed and displayed to users, according to earlier eWEEK stories.

"Google hopes Tango will support a system for independent developers to create new virtual reality applications and services," according to Bloomberg. "Video games could have characters that hide behind real-life furniture. A museum app could show 3D animations when you walk past an exhibit. A grocery store could highlight sale items and guide shoppers to the right shelf."

In January, Google announced that Lenovo is engineering and building Google's first Project Tango smartphone. The device, slated to give users a wide range of 3D views and data about indoor physical locations, is expected to be released later this year, according to an earlier eWEEK report.

The Project Tango smartphone initiative adds extra sensors and computer vision software to a normal smartphone to create a device that can use additional data in innovative new ways to help users see more, even inside buildings. The technical details and specifications of the coming smartphones have not yet been revealed, but application developers have already been invited to submit their ideas for gaming and utility apps that could be made available for users in the future.

App developers were asked to lay out a project schedule for their proposals, including milestones for development; visual mockups such as concept art, smartphone app screenshots and videos; an appropriate narrative; a breakdown of the project team and members; and a one-page biography describing past app portfolio experience and a company profile.

Some businesses, including home improvement store chain Lowe's, are already working on their own Project Tango apps. The Lowe's concept app would let a user point his or her Project Tango-enabled smartphone in their kitchen to see where a new refrigerator or dishwasher might fit virtually, while another developer, Schell Games, is working on an app that lets users play virtual Jenga on any surface with a group of friends.

The Lenovo smartphone that is under development for the project will retail for less than $500 and will be available this summer, according to reports.

Google representatives eWEEK contacted declined to comment for this article.