Google today announced “Project Tango,” an experimental effort that will see a prototype Android phone equipped with sensors for advanced motion and space tracking to a limited number of developers. The sensors embedded in the hardware will allow 3D scanning to map environments and the ability to track the full 3D motion of the device to open up new opportunities for developers from indoor navigation to gaming experiences. Here’s more on the hardware from Google’s new Project Tango website:

Project-Tango-Android-ATAPOur current prototype is a 5” phone containing customized hardware and software designed to track the full 3D motion of the device, while simultaneously creating a map of the environment. These sensors allow the phone to make over a quarter million 3D measurements every second, updating it’s position and orientation in real-time, combining that data into a single 3D model of the space around you…It runs Android and includes development APIs to provide position, orientation, and depth data to standard Android applications written in Java, C/C++, as well as the Unity Game Engine.

The prototype includes a 4MP camera, 2x Computer Vision Processors, integrated depth sensing, and a motion tracking camera.

Developers will be able to sign up starting today, but Google will only hand out around 200 units of the device initially. The project is lead by the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group, the same team behind Project Ara and one part of Motorola that Google did not sell to Lenovo

Those interested in learning more and signing up to get the hardware can do so here. Google expects to ship the developer kits by March 14.

Here’s a little more on the possibilities for Project Tango from Google:

What if you could capture the dimensions of your home simply by walking around with your phone before you went furniture shopping? What if directions to a new location didn’t stop at the street address? What if you never again found yourself lost in a new building? What if the visually-impaired could navigate unassisted in unfamiliar indoor places? What if you could search for a product and see where the exact shelf is located in a super-store?

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About the Author

Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & Electrek.co. He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s weekly Logic Pros series and makes music as one half of Toronto-based Makamachine.