In our previous post, we announced the exciting new hardware ACCEPT has acquired as part of project development, and after a couple of weeks with the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro we are keen to share our experiences.
On discovering Google’s Tango platform was to become available on a commercially available smartphone for the first time, project partners were keen to get hold of a couple of units to assess feasibility and functionality for integration with the ACCEPT system.
There are three aspects of the Tango platform that ACCEPT has identified for potential integration:
- Motion tracking
The Tango platform is capable of understanding its movement through a real-world environment in 3D, without the need for GPS or a mobile signal. This holds almost unlimited possibilities for VR and AR applications – tracking a user through virtual environments, and usually identifying real-world objects with this environment.
- Depth perception
As a result of the sensor and camera array on the Phab, including a Time of Flight camera, Tango is able to see in 3D. This means it is capable of providing real-world measurements using point cloud system to assess distances, heights and lengths. In addition to providing handy measurement tools, this means the technology is also capable of providing a fully immersive AR experience; placing digital objects in a real-world space to scale.
- Area learning
Combining the above capabilities, Tango is able to create a virtual map of an area, placing the user within that space and acting as an indoor GPS system. As such, it is possible to place an object, change location, and for the object to remain where it is placed.
These capabilities work in conjunction to provide the majority of the Tango functionalities, including; several the ACCEPT team have found particularly exciting:
3D scanning with Tango works by making a point cloud of whatever it is pointed at, taking measurements in 3 dimensions to create 3D images or navigable scans of rooms and areas. From ACCEPT’s point of view this could be invaluable on site, allowing real time scanning of on-site environments for interrogation and augmentation at a later date.
The ability to measure real-world objects with a portable mobile device has the potential to run an already powerful digital construction tool into an invaluable one. Depth sensing and motion tracking make this possible, with the user targeting two points in the camera viewfinder and the Tango technology assessing the distance between these, acting as a virtual tape-measure. Throughout testing, this was found to be satisfactorily accurate, if not always 100% perfect.
The application for site workers is a obviously useful as it is diverse – providing a myriad of opportunities to interrogate the surrounding environment in a fast and convenient manner. Even more so with Tango able to automatically generate blueprint’s and plans from measurements taken, means site workers are able to rapidly map rooms, sites, and objects with ease. As well as measuring individual objects, it is also possible to make a journey on foot, tagging points along the way, and Tango will measure as you go.
At present, it seems Tango is limited only by the developers’ imagination, and it will be interesting to see the new and innovative uses that are found for Tango over the coming months. From ACCEPT’s point of view though, introduction of Tango onto the construction site is a no-brainer, and another arrow in the quiver of the Digital Master Builder.