Aiming to ‘give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion’, Google’s Project Tango has been met with enthusiasm from both developers and consumers alike since being announced in early 2014.

While the device is aiming to be everything from a gaming system to a new take on the retail experience, the ability to capture 3D space just by simply walking around leaves a lot of questions up in the air for those that actually work in developing 3D content including architects, product designers and engineers.

To put things into context, when Project Tango was announced earlier this year the project team asked:

“What if you could capture the dimensions of your home simply by walking around with your phone before you went furniture shopping? What if directions to a new location didn’t stop at the street address? What if you never again found yourself lost in a new building? What if the visually-impaired could navigate unassisted in unfamiliar indoor places? What if you could search for a product and see where the exact shelf is located in a super-store?”

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Imagine playing hide-and-seek in your house with your favorite game character, or transforming the hallways into a tree-lined path. Imagine competing against a friend for control over territories in your home with your own miniature army, or hiding secret virtual treasures in physical places around the world?

The first Project Tango hardware prototype was an Android smartphone-like device that came in the form of a development kit that was distributed in March of 2014 to 200 eager developers. The second hardware prototype was released just three months later in June of 2014 and came in the form of a tablet to 4,000 similarly eager developers itching to create apps that can make use of 3D environments.

Featuring a Nvidida Tegra K (essentially making it ‘the most powerful tablet in the world’ according to Google), an XBox Kinect-like camera board, a 120 degree field of view camera, multiple antennas, and a heavy dose of power, this is far and away more than just a ‘powerful’ mobile computing device…it’s downright revolutionary.

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Among those who received the early prototypes were the tech gear heads over at the popular teardown blog iFixit. Here’s some key discoveries that the iFixit crew found in the teardown that gives us a little more insight into what the tablet is capable of:

  • There is a very strong resemblance to the XBox Kinect
  • There are a sea of antennas in the device meaning that connections for various purposes is a priority
  • The codenames used for the Project Tango tablets are based off of Star Trek nomenclature
  • The rear case and front housing are connected with zero fasteners or adhesives
  • The device features an NFC antenna—which means that it could be used as a shopping device
  • The tablet uses an IR projector which provides infrared light to get a sense of an area in 3D space
  • The tablet is powered by a hefty dual-cell 7.6 V Li-ion polymer battery

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Who knows what will become of Project Tango for those who spend their days creating in 3D?

Handheld 3D scanners haven’t seen nearly as much attention as 3D printers and still offer lackluster results for those who are looking beyond the time-wasting novelty of scanning a friend’s head.

What do you think? Does Project Tango have potential? Where?

In the meantime, check out the full teardown over at iFixit.

Author

Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.