Google Bids Farewell to Project Tango & Fosters ARCore
AR Core favoured over Project Tango: Google
The music has stopped. Google doesn’t want to “tango” with this project anymore.
Remember those phones which carried an unorthodox camera setup on the back to offer a few more abilities to capture your surroundings? Let me hep you recall.
Project Tango- Devices
Lenovo Phab2 Pro, a phone weighing in at 260 g and at 10mm thickness. A few more products since 2014, like the Peanut phone & Project Tango’s Yellowstone tablet complete the product portfolio. The ASUS Zenfone AR was the only high end phone among them which came closest to being something consumers MAY buy. This phone allowed an individual to pull out their phones to capture the surroundings and provide 3D models of the same. This could be used for several reasons, for designing interiors of a house, for dressing mannequins in clothes, for assigning guests tables at weddings maybe? The possibilities were promising and seemingly endless. But this feat required a bunch of capable hardware and developers to work on three key areas.
Components of Project Tango
- Motion Tracking – In a 3D space, it can determine the devices’ position in context to objects in the surroundings
- Area Learning – Once having observed the location of things, Area learning creates a model/map of things to help you build on structures
- Depth Perception – This gives shapes to objects and allows complex structures to be understood and mapped by estimating their depth
This is only a peak into what Project Tango is capable of. Unfortunately, not a lot of devices were launched in association with the project. Be it the delays in terms of delivering on events, developer kit shipments or bottlenecks in terms of hardware and further accuracy of these phones, they never quite took off commercially. More than consumers, I personally think this technology could’ve benefitted businesses which could deploy this technology in setting up stores, planning aisles, giving their customers a demo of how products seem in the real world.
Whatever the reasons may be, Google has taken to Twitter and it’s Tango developers website to announce the demise of this project.
It still hopes that the developers get onboard with it’s future plans with AR Core- Google’s augmented reality pursuit which was already displayed on Samsung S8 and Pixel phones. For now, this may be announced only on Flagship devices and AR capabilities can be tried out only when OEMs willingly announce relevant software. But unlike Project Tango, ARCore doesn’t always require high end hardware. Instead of using Infrared and Fisheye lens to detect how the external environment is, phones can still use the camera for simple depth sensing and understanding objects in the environment. Take for example Snapchat filters. A phone with bare minimum hardware can run it. Similarly, some developers tinkered with the methods used for AR Core in Samsung S8 and applied it to other phones in a project called ARCore for all. Know more about it here.
Augmented Reality environment
With increasing competiton from Apple‘s AR Kit, Google may be focusing on this project to make it more accessible to consumers. Google is known to have the courage to ditch projects which haven’t exactly taken off, such as Google Glass, and not to forget the dreamy Project ARA. Talking about the AR space generally, Microsoft is often missed out in the battle between ARCore and ARKit. Hololens appears quite ahead in the race looking at their demonstrations. But ofcourse, it’s an entirely different hardware altogether. Whereas ARCore allows you to enjoy Augmented Reality from the comfort of your phone. Hopefully the ARCore project can offer us something more than what ARKit did with the iPhone, i.e. emojis which follow your face muscles.
Here are a few pictures of ARCore on Pixel phone: