It’s been about 1 month since I have received Google’s Project Tango development tablet. The tablet is a result of a 2 year project with Google’s ATAP to give smartphones an understanding of the world around them.
This technology has been around for years and is nothing new, but many new uses will emerge now that the tech is available in mobile.
Autonomous cars will be able to use the live outdoor adf files to create a constantly updating map to be safer. Indoors will be mapped and people will spend less time being lost in large indoor spaces. It’s really cool to think of how a network of users with these phones will be able to benefit society, even if most of society does not own an actual tango.
Engineers will be able to 3d scan objects to perform rough measurements, and then send the files to other engineers. Designers will be able to work with 3d models with more ease and intuition. Film makers will use tango as a way to make the pre production process more efficient, as well as being able to create new forms of media and invent brand new processes.
Pretty much this all this means in 1-2 years time multiple smartphones will get eyes to gain perspective of the environment around it, while determining its local space. This will make the smartphone a much more useful tool in a large number of professional industries.
Despite the cool tech and potential, the open development community is very very small right now. Google has only sent out sent out 4000 tablets to developers requesting one. My biggest fear the reason why the community is so small is that many people bought the tablet on speculation due to the tech. Many people have demoed several of the key tablet and peanut phone features such as 3d scanning. The demos presented them as fully fleshed out apps causing non developers to be interested in acquiring a tablet. When their tablets arrived with none of the 3d scanning software built in, the speculators were disappointed and let their tablet sit dormant. I certainly hope that is not the case and Google used effective screening to select developers that would be likely to develop for the tango. Ideally there are many teams and solo developers working on closed development of polished apps just waiting until LG and Samsung release their flagship models next year.
For some tango projects I’m going to try to develop them in the open as much as possible as I would ideally see like to see the community developing and building off of each other. Thanks to everyone who has worked on developing this platform so far, the work that has been done on this project is so complex it’s quite hard to fully grasp the project but it feels like this will play out as a very important step in computing.
One way that I’m trying to frame my tango development is to ask myself how can the tango dev unit benefit society as a whole right now? The clear mapping application that could be achieved faster then most would be mapping roller coasters.
Roller coasters are an obvious choice as there are only thousands of good roller coasters in the world that are statistically close in proximity to the 4000 developer tablets in the world. If the developer community was mobilized to crowdsource the mapping of roller coasters, a large portion of the roller coaster network could be mapped and rigged. This would benefit society by allowing them to get a feel for roller coasters in a virtual world before most people even know what it means to tango.
I hope this and other open development can help accelerate the future. 1996 brought the Internet to consumers, 2006 brought mobile to consumers and now 2016 will bring robots to consumers.