Google has unveiled the first semi-commercialised implementation of its Project Tango 3D motion-capture technology: a high-end Android tablet aimed squarely at developers.
The Project Tango tablet's primary selling point is its depth-sensing camera at the rear, capable of taking a 3D scan of its surroundings and processing the data in real time.
Unveiled to the public in February this year
, Project Tango is a creation of the advanced projects division the company acquired and retained following its brief ownership of Motorola Mobility. Based around the same central technology as Microsoft's Kinect platform, and powered by a low-power Movidius Myriad 1 co-processor, the initial prototype promised a smartphone form factor device capable of tracking objects and surroundings in 3D space in real time.
That, Google claimed at the time, could lead to all kinds of breakthroughs: integration with the Unity engine promised a new level of gaming, allowing for quick capture of real-world locations or augmented reality games that adjust to the layout of the surrounding environment; rooms in a house can be quickly scanned for design and decoration experimentations, or to build up a 3D map for sale; indoor location tracking suddenly becomes scarily accurate; and the technology could even be used to assist the visually impaired.
While a small quantity of prototype smartphones were produced, these were earmarked exclusively for Google partners. Now, the company has unveiled the second Project Tango device: a high-end Android tablet. Based on the Nvidia Tegra K1 processor, but likely still including the Myriad 1 co-processor, the tablet boasts 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE and 4G LTE connectivity. The rear also includes a four megapixel caemra coupled with the Project Tango depth-sensing system itself.
Before you get too excited, there's a catch: Google is opening pre-orders exclusively for developers, and will be checking buyers' credentials before any units ship. Furthermore, the limited production run means high per-unit costs: Google has priced the Project Tango tablet at $1,024 (around £609 excluding taxes). If those facts don't put you off, you can register your interest on the official website
, or drool over the brief teaser video below.