Google reveals $1,000 Project Tango tablet for seeing in 3-D

Developers can sign up to be notified of the upcoming sale of the $1,024 device

Google's Project Tango tablet for 3-D imaging applications.

Google's Project Tango tablet for 3-D imaging applications.

Google has unveiled its experimental "Project Tango" tablet for advanced imaging applications, and it wants developers to get to work on it.

The company said Thursday that developers interested in Google's initiative can begin using its "Project Tango Tablet Development Kit," a tablet featuring specialized cameras for tracking 3-D motion. A previous report had said that Google was readying some 4,000 prototypes of the unit, with the aim of helping Google build a device that can possibly better map the interiors of buildings and other spaces.

Developers can sign up to be notified when the unit goes on sale later this year for US$1,024.

"These development kits are designed for professional developers interested in exploring the future of mobile 3D sensing," Google said. Only limited quantities of the kit will be available and developers will receive updates as the software algorithms and APIs (application programming interfaces) evolve.

Project Tango's goal is to develop a mobile device that uses advanced image sensing to see the world in much the same way humans do. In February Google announced a prototype Android smartphone as part of the effort.

Smartphone GPS often doesn't work properly indoors. Possible applications for Google's new technology could include mapping products inside stores, architectural 3-D plans or improved guides for visually impaired people. Some Tango smartphones are even headed into outer space for a NASA project involving robots.

The tablet could support similar applications or maybe more immersive experiences around gaming. The 7-inch tablet device runs on a NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor and has 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, Wi-Fi, BTLE and 4G LTE. What differentiates it, though, are the specialized cameras and "integrated depth sensing" for capturing an environment's geometry.

The invitation to developers for the tablet comes just weeks before Google I/O, the company's developer event. It's likely that the tablet and the project will be discussed at the event, which may include other related announcements.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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