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News broke this morning that Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects division, or ATAP, is working on developing a tablet-sized version of its 3D mapping smartphone, Project Tango.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Google intends to manufacture 4,000 of the prototype devices, and that the tablets will be outfitted with 7-inch displays. Other than that, the devices sound to be relatively identical to the Project Tango smartphone prototypes that we’ve learned about until this point: two rear cameras, infrared depth sensors, and advanced 3D-mapping software to allow a user to make a real-time, three-dimensional landscape of the person’s surroundings.

The report cites unnamed “people briefed on the company’s plans” who say that the Tango Tablets could be sent out to developers before the start of Google’s I/O conference, scheduled for late-June. As for when, or if, the tablets would ever make their way to consumers, that’s a question that’s relatively unanswered. The same could be said for the smartphone-sized Project Tango prototypes, which still are in the developer experimentation phase.

It’s interesting to hear that Google is looking into blowing up Tango to larger proportions. The news raises some questions about what difference a tablet-sized version of this technology might provide from the earlier, smaller prototypes. For one thing, having a larger screen to work with could make mapping efforts more practical for the user.

Perhaps there will be a better UI experience with a larger display, allowing users to better see what’s been generated by the mapping software. Having more display could also allow for more data to be relayed to a user, which could be useful in a practical sense. Imagine an engineer using a Tango Tablet to create a 3D map of the area in which he or she plans to work. Having more space to draw with a stylus, or even just easier-to-read data might make all the difference to take Project Tango from neat toy to useful tool.

Project Tango has taken shape at Google ATAP thanks in large part to the initiatives many partners, including the MARS Lab at the University of Minnesota, as well as Movidius, the makers of the Myriad-1 vision processing system. Tango’s potential applications have wide-ranging possibilities, and it’s exciting to hear that Google is pursuing more avenues of implementing the technology. Hopefully developers will be similarly excited and we’ll soon all be outfitted with Tango-powered gadgets in our daily lives.

[Source: Wall Street Journal]

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