Google is planning on tapping into its Project Tango technology to offer superior interior 3D mapping of buildings and a new revenue stream through virtual reality apps using the platform, Bloomberg reports.

The Alphabet Inc. unit wants to digitally map the interiors of buildings in 3-D down to a resolution of a few inches, and make money in virtual reality along the way, through a project named Tango… The company plans a big expansion of the technology this year and ultimately wants to make it ubiquitous, according to a person familiar with the situation. Job postings and recent updates to Tango’s developer software show steps toward this ambitious goal.

Google will reportedly use Tango devices to allow for mapping of interiors “down to a resolution of a few inches”. The Android-based Project Tango devices utilize a mix of software and hardware including various depth sensors and cameras that allow for real-time, point and shoot-style mapping. Google first started allowing developers to reserve Project Tango developer kits back in January. And Lenovo plans to show off the first Tango-powered consumer smartphone this summer.

Today’s report claims Google “hopes Tango will support a system for independent developers to create new virtual reality applications and services,” which would in theory allow it to compete more aggressively with emerging virtual reality platforms beyond its efforts with Google Cardboard that is mostly viewed as a low-cost, lower-quality alternative to products like FaceBook’s Oculus and Samsung’s GearVR. Video games could have characters that hide behind real-life furniture. A museum app could show 3-D animations when you walk past an exhibit. A grocery store could highlight sale items and guide shoppers to the right shelf. Unlike most emerging virtual reality systems, Tango doesn’t need external equipment to re-create the world digitally.”

The news comes as reports this week claimed Google will also announce a new “Android VR” headset. That would be an upgrade to its Cardboard experience and be a standalone experience not requiring a smartphone.

And Google will also spend some time at the event to show off its efforts with 3D mapping and VR tie-ins using Project Tango, according to today’s report from Bloomberg.


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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.