Report: Google developing tablet with 3D vision capabilities as part of Project Tango

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) plans to produce about 4,000 prototype tablets with advanced computer vision capabilities as part of its Project Tango initiative, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The report, citing unnamed sources, said the 7-inch tablets would be produced starting next month, and will have two back cameras, infrared depth sensors and "advanced software that can capture precise three-dimensional images of objects." The tablets could be released ahead of Google's annual I/O developer conference scheduled for the end of June.

Project Tango, which Google announced in February, is part of the search giant's Advanced Technology and Projects group, and is currently based around a prototype phone and the work of developers to use 3D scanning technology to build maps and models of physical locations. Google provided 200 prototype developer kits and set aside some of the 5-inch phones for projects in the areas of indoor navigation/mapping, single/multiplayer games that use physical space, and new algorithms for processing sensor data.

According to Google, the possibilities of such technology are endless: For example, users could capture the dimensions of their home simply by walking around with their phone before they go furniture shopping; or a visually-impaired person could get step-by-step navigation in unfamiliar indoor places. Tango also could support augmented reality apps, in which digital objects are overlaid on physical landscapes for games, information or advertising.

Project Tango leverages chipsets from startup Movidius, whose Myriad 1 vision processor platform allows a phone to use 3D sensors at very low power levels.

Google is apparently not the only company interested in 3D vision though. According to an Engadget report, which also cited unnamed sources, Samsung Electronics is developing a virtual reality headset that it will release later this year. Such a device would most likely be connected via wires to a Samsung mobile phone or phablet and would be designed for immersive Android gaming. The idea, according to the report, is to beat Facebook's (NASDAQ: FB) Oculus Rift and Sony's Project Morpheus to market and undercut those projects on price. Samsung declined to comment, according to Engadget.

In March, Facebook spent $2 billion on Oculus, maker of the Oculus Rift VR headset, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg promising the acquisition would be focused on "helping Oculus build out their product and develop partnerships to support more games."

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this The Verge article
- see this Engadget article
- see this CNET article

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