Google took the covers off of a 5" smartphone prototype called Tango. This very special device is equipped with specialized sensors that allow it to "see" the world in 3D (taking 250,000 measurements a second). since the device is a smartphone phone factor (unlike the Microsoft Kinect) they have paid particular attention to designing the system to be low power consumption. Like most bleeding edge Google projects, this started with 2 questions:
- Can it be done?
- What can the world develop for it once its available?
There are tones of immediate use cases from better indoor navigation (where GPS doesn't work) to helping the visually impaired live more independent lives. The reality is that developers will find new and innovative uses for this technology once they get their hands on the special dev kits being prepared for distribution.
I'm really excited to eventually see this in a mass distribution commercially available smartphone. It is innovation like this that makes me question why I still have an iPhone. Sure the iPhone is still better than Android today (for my use cases) but that line is getting thinner and thinner.