Project Tango Teardown: Google's Crazy Camera System (Oh, And a Phone)

Illustration for article titled Project Tango Teardown: Google's Crazy Camera System (Oh, And a Phone)

Google's Project Tango isn't coming to stores near you any time soon. You wouldn't even know what to do with it if it did. Still, the folks at iFixit got their hands on one and tore it apart. What's inside? Mostly a ton of crazy cameras, with a phone almost as an afterthought.

Project Tango has some awesome tricks up its sleeve, like mapping entire rooms with hardware that fits in the palm of your hand. But all that power comes in a package that's not exactly svelte. Naturally there's some pretty standard phone hardware in that roomy plastic shell, like a Snapdragon 800 processor and some flash memory. But then there's the real fun stuff like the mammoth 3000 mAh battery, a 4 MP rear-facing RGB/IR camera, a 180 degree rear-facing fish-eye camera, a 120 degree front-facer, and two computer vision co-processors to make sense of the input. That's a lot of specialized hardware that can pull of some serious tricks if you can figure out how to use it.

Even with all that gear, iFixit says Project Tango is one of the easiest phones to disassemble, its parts actually quite modular like some other phones Google's working on. If this tech ever makes its way out into the wild though, you can bet it'll be in a very different form. And it's almost a shame, because Project Tango has some weirdly chunky charm. [iFixit]

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I've seen people flip out about privacy or whatever with this "phone," but with such a limited run and the very specific nature, I have to wonder if it's really even truly intended to be a phone. Seems more like a tool. Something useful for search and rescue or something to map out an emergency space or something.

Yeah, I could see other applications like improved AR type stuff, but it really does feel like it's designed for non-commercial use.