New Google Tech Can Rapidly Prototype 3D Maps

By Published February 20, 2014 at 9:44 pm

The world's leading website has been making the news lately, and now their ATAP group (Advanced Technology & Projects) announced advancements that could heavily impact the gaming space. The new mobile technology, "Project Tango," can perform real-time 3-dimensional environment mapping, then render appropriate 3D models of the space with full collision mapping. This effectively means that your phone would have spatial awareness and the ability to create complex, 3-dimensional maps by use of its camera.

Project Tango has already gotten basic green light approval from Google and is shipping software dev kits shortly, so it is definitely something to pay attention to.

Google devs note in the above video that the custom phone contains "highly-customized hardware and software designed to allow the phone to track its motion in full-3D, in real-time." The team further went on to explain that the phone can compute 250 million measurements every second, effectively allowing rapid prototyping of environments in a virtual space.

This has a lot of real-world applications; furniture planning and interior design, for instance, can be aided by allowing a user to visualize a new piece of furniture within the 3D version of their room. But as gamers, we're primarily interested in the other implications.

Speaking theoretically, the tech would enable game developers to rapidly mock-up levels / maps by scanning real-world environments with the 3D imaging technology. This could potentially see use in rapid balance prototyping for FPS games, as one example. Google has already shown the tech used to introduce virtual characters into a real space, primarily by leveraging real-world objects as in-game objects, then allowing interaction with them; the wizard demo and blocks demo (both in the video) are examples of this.

Google's team noted: "We can prototype [something] in a couple of hours that would take months or even years before," another engineer commented that the tech would serve as a solution to navigation indoors.

The official ATAP Project Tango website (linked below) provided the following use-case scenarios for gaming applications:

"Imagine playing hide-and-seek in your house with your favorite game character, or transforming the hallways into a tree-lined path. Imagine competing against a friend for control over territories in your home with your own miniature army, or hiding secret virtual treasures in physical places around the world?

[Project Tango] runs Android and includes development APIs to provide position, orientation, and depth data to standard Android applications written in Java, C/C++, as well as the Unity Game Engine. These early prototypes, algorithms, and APIs are still in active development. So, these experimental devices are intended only for the adventurous and are not a final shipping product."

Dev kits will begin shipping within the next few months. Software developers are encouraged to begin working on applications and algorithms for the platform.

It also reminds us of SoftKinetic, who develop real-world-to-game-world AR & VR tech that sees utilization in the gaming space. You might also be interested in castAR glasses, if this sort of stuff gets you excited about augmented and virtual reality gaming variants.

You can read more about ATAP's Project Tango here:

A release date for Project Tango is not yet available.

- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.

Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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