Google's intriguing and ambitious Project Tango is gaining ground, as a new partnership with Qualcomm aims to deliver more optimized, Tango-ready Snapdragon chips.
The Lenovo Phab2 Pro already made its debut as the first consumer-ready smartphone to rock the Google Tango augmented reality (AR) platform. The handset packs a Snapdragon 652 processor with special optimizations at the software level to ensure full compatibility with Project Tango.
Google and Qualcomm are now taking things to the next level, expanding the optimizations to add Tango support to more processors. The high-end Snapdragon 820 SoC will get the special optimization treatment too, as will other future chips that will launch under the Snapdragon 800 and 600 series.
As Qualcomm points out, Project Tango delivers AR experiences on mobile and could one day become ubiquitous within smartphones and tablets.
"We at Qualcomm Technologies are already well underway with preparations for a Tango-enabled future," touts the chipmaker.
The Snapdragon 652 processor optimized for the Tango-ready Lenovo Phab2 Pro is just the beginning, but Qualcomm and Google have more ambitious plans in tow. In addition to the uniform time stamping of multiple data streams, high accuracy, efficient processing without requiring co-processors, and other benefits that the Snapdragon 652 has to offer, the Snapdragon 820 adds extra benefits such as lower power consumption and higher performance.
The Snapdragon 800 tier has always been more powerful compared with the midrange Snapdragon 600 series, and the differences in performance should be substantial with regard to Project Tango benefits and functionality.
"Because of our long standing efforts to achieve highly efficient and rich mobile user experiences, Snapdragon 600 and 800 series processors are capable of supporting truly breakthrough experiences like Tango without requiring substantial hardware modifications or software development," Qualcomm adds.
With Tango-optimized Snapdragon chips, OEMs could make their devices compatible with Tango simply by using the special processors. Users, in turn, will be able to use their smartphone or tablet with animated information layered over the real world to get a taste of augmented reality.
The prospect has a myriad of potential applications. For instance, one could make use of superimposed AR images to see how a piece of furniture would fit in a room, or how their house would look like renovated before even hiring the workers. It could save a great deal of time to actually visualize things in augmented reality before making it happen.
The optimized Snapdragon chips can crunch all data received from five sensors on the mobile device, all working simultaneously. A standard camera, a fisheye lens, a special lens to measure depth, an accelerometer and a gyroscope will all work at the same time and feed data into the chip, thus making the AR rendering possible. The aforementioned uniform data stamping of all sensors, meanwhile, will ensure the AR experience is smooth and without hiccups.