Kinect in a smartphone: Google’s moonshot Project Tango torn down
Project Tango's super powers (IR projector) on display
It is not just that chip, though. The cameras are another crucial component that makes Project Tango the unique location-scanning device that it is. Interestingly, iFixit fount out that what looks like a regular 4-megapixel OmniVision camera on it, turns out to be a sensor capable of detecting both RGB and infra-red (IR) light. It is this capability to detect IR light that allows for depth perception. How? A powerful (for a smartphone) array of LEDs beams IR light in the form of a grid of dots. The size of those dots differs depending on how close (small dot) or how far (larger dot) an object is. The sensor in Tango’s camera then captures light information from those dots, and measures the size differences between them to come up with a depth map. This whole process is eerily similar to the one Microsoft uses in its Kinect. You can actually see that projected IR grid in the breath-taking image above.
Finally, what this teardown reveals is just how easy a device is to repair. Luckily, in designing this technological new-comer, Google made sure it's a device that is easy to tear down and replace parts on, which is great. Tango scored 9 out of 10 in iFixit's repairibility rankings.
1. PBXtech (Posts: 966; Member since: 21 Oct 2013)
JPL is involved, I'm sure NASA and the military are interested in what this can offer. Google is really working on something big with this project, can't wait to see where it goes from here.
2. hassoups (Posts: 254; Member since: 06 Jun 2013)
Google is the only one out of the big boys that still has the passion to think outside the box. The rest of it is with the small start-ups that are ultimately gobbled up by the big boys once they before they become big enough
5. Scott93274 (Posts: 521; Member since: 06 Aug 2013)
I believe that is a true statement, though I have to wonder what they have planned with Boston Dynamics, Titan Aerospace, or their self driving cars. Maybe they can use the drones from Titan for Google Maps, but Boston Dynamic robots? I really wish I could have been in the room when they made the decision to buy that company.
4. vijaysivakula (Posts: 161; Member since: 17 Aug 2011)
Damn! Now Apple is going to build something like this into their iphone and sue every other device with this idea. How could iFixit do this?
13. Neutral (Posts: 30; Member since: 19 Oct 2013)
C'mon man. These jokes are out of their primes. I'm not sure you can call 'em jokes anymore.
6. Scott93274 (Posts: 521; Member since: 06 Aug 2013)
So, what's the point of this? Get everyone in every city to go outside and use them to create 3D models of the globe for Google Earth? lol, I do find the tech interesting, but what's the point for the consumer to have it in their phone?
11. Victor.H (Posts: 406; Member since: 27 May 2011)
It can be used to see in the dark, kind of like Predator vision for your smartphone. It's also used for indoor mapping, not outdoors. The possible use includes robots (that would be able to quickly scan their surroundings) and augmented reality.
12. Scott93274 (Posts: 521; Member since: 06 Aug 2013)
Alright, aside from the robots, you list some valid points of use for the average consumer. I think it would be very nice to use it to map out your house to create a 3D digital model then use that to manage smart-house functions like Nest, security cameras, or those smart LED light bulbs PA reported on a week or two back.
7. jpkelly05 (Posts: 37; Member since: 13 Nov 2012)
I keep thinking about live interlinking 3D VR worlds. Put a room setup with 5 of these devices for each wall, wear 3D VR gear and a game server equaling an awesome qaming experience. All we need is some interfacing wireless body gear for biofeedback - with pressure for our nerves to sense and controls allowing us to use game generated items- boom here we go lawnmower man.
8. jpkelly05 (Posts: 37; Member since: 13 Nov 2012)
By that last post I meant to say that 3D VR glasses would also be worn.
10. AfterShock (Posts: 2106; Member since: 02 Nov 2012)
Google, living the dream.
This may wind up being a module on a project Ara phone, neat.