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Google's building 7-inch Project Tango tablets that see the world around them, report says

After releasing a 3D-aware prototype smartphone in February, Google is getting ready to release a similarly equipped Android tablet.

Produced under Google's "Project Tango," the prototype tablet will have a 7-inch screen, two cameras, and infrared depth sensors. The tablet's software will be able to use all that hardware to capture 3D images of the immediate surroundings, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Possible applications for the tablet, and the smartphone before it, include navigation assistance for the visually impaired, augmented reality gaming, and 3D floor plans of your living room. You could use a 3D floor plan, for example, to shop for a new couch and see how it'd look at home right on your mobile display.

Google intends to produce about 4,000 Project Tango prototype tablets in early June to distribute to developers, according to the Journal. The devices could be ready for introduction close to Google I/O. The search giant's developer conference is scheduled for June 25 and 26; however, it's not clear if Project Tango will be a featured part of the I/O keynote.

If accurate, Google's reported 4,000 tablets is a significant boost from the 200 Project Tango smartphones Google planned to distribute to developers earlier this year.
Google says its goal with Project Tango is to "give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion." Similar to Google's other creative projects, the company is hoping that developers will come up with newer and more interesting uses for Project Tango than Google has itself.

In March, Google and NASA said two Project Tango smartphones would be sent to the International Space Station. The handsets are attached to spherical robotic devices about the size of a volleyball called SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient Experimental Satellites) that can float and move inside the ISS.

The idea is to see if Project Tango can help the device learn and maneuver around its environment. The Tango-ized SPHERES are set to launch on the Orbital 2 resupply mission on June 10, according to NASA.

3D appears to the next great frontier that major technology companies are working on. While Google has its Project Tango, Facebook, Microsoft, and Sony are working on virtual reality headsets focused on gaming.

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