Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects team, also known as ATAP, announced late last week that one of its longtime ventures would be spinning out into its own, independent division within Google. Project Tango – which we’ve followed closely here on BestTechie – is an initiative to create a smartphone and tablet that can perform real-time 3D mapping, as well as to imagine all the various applications such capabilities could offer, from augmented reality games to guided navigation for those with visual impairments.
The news came on ATAP’s Google Plus page, though the details are still pretty sketchy at the moment:
“[…] after two fast-paced years in ATAP, and many technical successes, the Tango team is transitioning from ATAP to a new home within Google. We’re excited about the continued commitment to developing the technology for our users – we wish our fellow pirates fair winds and following seas.”
As to what that will actually mean for the future of Project Tango, it isn’t quite clear. Where will Tango go next? Does this mean that the ATAP team that was working on Tango will follow it to its next home, or will it be inherited by a new team? Does this change mean that commercial development of Project Tango just moved up a notch – or down?
This is akin to the recent move Google made with Glass, moving it from Google X to under the purview of Nest CEO Tony Fadell. With Glass, it seemed clear that Google didn’t quite know how to rescue the Explorer program from its bad buzz, so giving it to Fadell could be a way to revamp the initiative going forward and bring it closer to a commercial release. Project Tango, by contrast, isn’t nearly as well-known, so it’s much more difficult to figure out whether this is a sign of success or failure. Hopefully we’ll find out more regarding the future of Project Tango before too long.