Google Wants to Fund App Developers for Project Tango Phone

Project Tango has been unfolding slowly since first announced in February 2014. The initiative allows Android handsets to create dynamic 3D maps and lay them on top of real-world objects. Google is seeking bold and creative experiences from developers and is finally ready to make its augmented reality tech a bit more real. 

Project Tango uses a combination of motion tracking, depth sensing, and computer vision. The idea is to let people explore their environment in new and interesting ways from their smartphone. The sensors track the phone's every move, so the 3D experience can react to users who step forward or backward, or lean to one side. Tango goes far beyond traiditional augmented reality. Google says it can be used to turn users' homes into game levels, or magic windows into distinctive and new environments. The software is smart enough to recognize places it has been before, and the motion tracking works indoors and out. For example, it can create 3D images of your living room -- complete with measurements -- so you can more effectively shop for furniture or decorations to fill the available space. 

Thanks to help from Qualcomm and Lenovo, Google says the hardware is finally ready. Now Google needs apps. That's where developers come in. 

Google is inviting developers to join the Project Tango app ecosystem. The Project Tango SDK has been available (purchase required, sadly) for some time, but Google is now accepting app proposals. The best ideas will receive funding and may be included on the first Project Tango smartphone when it is released to the public. 

Specifically, Google is looking for games and utility apps. Google says it will use its engineering team to support the best ideas via the Project Tango incubator. Google says proposals will need to include project schedules, complete with development milestones, visual mockups, screen shots or video footage with accompanying narrative, a breakdown of team members, and a one-page app/company portfolio. 

"With Project Tango, the smartphone becomes a magic window into the physical world by enabling it to perceive space and motion that goes beyond the boundaries of a touch screen," said Johnny Lee, Project Tango Lead, Google. "By working with Lenovo, we’ll be able to make Project Tango more accessible to users and developers all over the world to both enjoy and create new experiences that blend the virtual and real worlds." 

The deadline for app proposal submissions is February 15. 

Eric Zeman I am a journalist who covers the mobile telecommunications industry. I freelance for ProgrammableWeb and other online properties.

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