As if Project Ara and the concept of modular phones wasn’t enough, Google has impressed everybody with the concept behind Project Tango – currently a prototype, it aims to be a really unique Android smartphone, with “special powers”. At its current state of development, Project Tango tracks the 3D motion of the device, and creates a 3D model of the environment around it in real time. One of the most immediate uses of such a technology would be in finally solving the problems with indoor navigation and mapping.
Next, this kind of new technology would definitely speed up and rejuvenate the augmented reality field. As more developers will be welcomed into the improvement of this concept, it will span across other fields, such as helping those visually impaired, in retail, furniture design and whatnot. But what exactly lies underneath this amazing device? iFixit has got its hand on a Project Tango prototype and here are some interesting discoveries.
The technical parts from inside
Google hasn’t revealed too many details with regards to the hardware inside the phone, and now thanks to the teardown, we know exactly all that’s inside. There’s a Snapdragon 800 quad core CPU with a 2 GB LPDDR3 RAM, 64 GB of internal storage, expandable by microSD, a 5 inch LCD screen, a 9 axis accelerometer/gyroscope/compass and the parts which constitute the depth-sensing array: an infrared projector, 4 MP rear-facing RGB/IR camera and 180º field of view fisheye rear-facing camera. And there’s a trio of USB ports – Mini-USB, Micro-USB and USB 3.0.
One of the easiest phones to disassemble
As you can see for yourself, this device is definitely not a gorgeous one, probably because it’s still a prototype, but also due to the fact that what’s inside it makes it really special. Thus, in the true spirit of open source, it’s quite easy to disassemble it, as you can gain access to the motherboard itself just by removing the battery. This also allows for quick access to the SIM and microSD slots. In the construction of the phone it seems that not too much adhesive has been used and most of the spring contacts are cable-free. Thus, it’s easily repairable, as well, having scored 9 out of 10 for repairability.
The special cameras
What makes the device different is its unique ability to 3D scan the world around us and that’s possible thanks to its cameras. While the upcoming Amazon smartphone is said to pack six of them, these will be used only to create a 3D effect for the user interface. With Project Tango, things are more serious. iFixit found inside a “selfie-cam” a 120º field of vision (FOV), somehwat similar to the depth perceiving field of view of the human eye and a “standard” cellphone camera with a 4 MP sensor made by OmniVision with RGB, infrared sensor and depth perception features. Also, the fisheye lens caps enables a 180º FOV, balancing resolution and frames per second to record black and white images for motion tracking.
What you need to remember is that this isn’t yet a consumer-ready device, and it will look even more awesome once it gets released. However, it will obviously be aimed at a niche audience and don’t expect it to come with a price similar to current smartphones.