No, not the dance… Tango is an innovative platform under development and authorship by the ubiquitous technology company Google. Pioneering the use of computer vision in mobile devices, this technology is a sure-fire gamechanger in both hardware and software development spheres.
With the use of custom hardware in the form of an array of cameras and sensors, devices running the Tango software can detect their position relative to the world around them. This is without the need for GPS or other external signals. The possibilities for such technology are enormous, providing devices with the capabilities for:
- Indoor navigation
- 3D mapping
- Physical space measurement
- Environmental recognition
- Augmented reality
- Windows into virtual reality
- Depth perception
When combined with existing mobile hardware, this capability can be expanded to provide features such as motion-tracking; using visual features of the environment, in combination with accelerometer and gyroscope data, to map a device’s movements in real world spaces. This data can also be stored in maps could then be interrogated, enhanced, and augmented.
Despite being a technology in relative infancy, Tango is already featuring in several innovative projects which are keen to capitalise on these pioneering capabilities. ACCEPT is one such project, with the consortium testing Tango for integration in the ACCEPT app suite, which is currently under development. Other exciting applications of this technology include:
The Yellowstone Tablet
The Yellowstone Tablet represented the first tablet mobile device running the Project Tango Technology. Featuring a 2.3 GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra K1 processor, 128GB flash memory, 1920×1200-pixel touchscreen, 4MP colour camera, fisheye-lens camera, an IR projector with RGB-IR camera for integrated depth sensing, and 4G LTE connectivity. The tablet was available to developers as part of the Project Tango Tablet Development Kit. The ACCEPT consortium have been privileged enough to utilise one of these cutting-edge devices to develop aspects of the ACCEPT system; assessing functionality and feasibility of integration in the project system.
Started in 1999, the Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellite project is an aerospace engineering programme. Led by a team at MIT, it stems from a student assignment to develop a real-world version of the combat training remote from the Star Wars films.
Operating on the International Space Station, these satellites are able to move in a micro-gravity environment using twelve cold-gas thrusters that use liquid CO2 as propellant. In 2014, Tango was incorporated into the project through the introduction of the early Tango equipped Peanut smartphone; acting as on board computers, and enabling the SPHERES to operate independently as mobile free fliers in a variety of environments using vision-based navigation.
Lenovo Phab 2 Pro
Available to the public since August 2016, the Phab 2 Pro is the first commercially available smartphone having the capability of running Tango Technology. Equipped with four integrated cameras and a Qualcomm 653 Octa core processor, the smart phone is unique in its capability to deliver immersive AR capabilities, real-world measurement and interrogation, and the full range of Tango capabilities within a fully portable and socially familiar mobile technology. ACCEPT has recently acquired a couple of Phab units, and is currently assessing ACCEPT-Tango integration on increasingly portable and holistic devices.
As developers continue to generate uses for the technology, and become increasingly aware of what the technology is capable of, it’s likely that we’ll see the platform becoming more and more useful. The ACCEPT consortium looks forward with anticipation to seeing this technology becoming more widely applied, and thrilled to be part of the early adopter Tango wave.