Google unveiled its experimental “Project Tango” smartphone earlier this year, and its 3D indoor and outdoor mapping technology was rumored to be powered by the Movidius Myriad 1 3D-sensing chip. This turned out to be true. However, a recent teardown revealed that the device is also powered by Apple technology, namely the PrimeSense Capri PS1200 3D imaging system-on-a-chip.
The technology, which Apple acquired as part of their PrimeSense purchase late last year, was discovered in a recent iFixit teardown of Google’s ‘Project Tango’ device:
This appears to be PrimeSense’s new Capri PS1200 SoC 3D imaging chip, unexpected for a couple of reasons:
Just last year, Apple bought PrimeSense, manufacturer of the Kinect’s 3D vision hardware. Speculators assumed we would be seeing this hot new hardware in an upcoming iOS device, with intent of mapping 3D spaces. Looks like Tango beat Apple to the punch with their own tech?
Interestingly, although Tango is Google’s project, it’s one of the first devices to actually make use of the PrimeSense Capri 3D sensor. This means that while Google’s use of this technology in Project Tango is interesting, it could also foreshadow what Apple may plan to do with the technology in the future. Google’s device basically maps its surrounding using the phone’s camera and other technologies, hoping to provide “directions, dimensions, and environmental maps.”
In regard to the actual technology, Project Tango is similar to the original Microsoft Kinect, says iFixit. Microsoft’s sensor also used technology from PrimeSense, and like the Kinect, Tango “displays a bright grid of dots that are captured by IR sensors to build a depth map.”
Project Tango incorporates four separate cameras to capture the environment around it, with all of that imagery being processed by the device’s aforementioned Capri 3D chip and its Myriad vision co-processors. Amazon is also said to be working on technology that accomplishes similar things, and with two big-league companies working on such technology, it makes sense to assume that Apple likely is as well.
Motion control by way of human interaction has been rumored for the next-generation Apple TV set-top box, but there have been no rumors of Tango-like technology making its way to the iPhone line any time soon. But Tango proves that the technology is ready for the mobile space, so it would make sense that Apple follow Google’s lead in the near future.