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Google reportedly building Project Tango tablets that can see the world around them

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4,000 prototype tablets will have 7-inch screen and range of sensors

The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is planning to produce 4,000 prototype tablets next month capable of using cameras and sensors to map the world around them. The tablets, built as a part of Google's Project Tango research initiative, will have a 7-inch screen, infrared depth sensors, two back-mounted cameras, and "advanced software that can capture precise three-dimensional images of objects," according to people briefed on the company's plans.

Google's Project Tango is a research project that aims to produce devices that can learn and map the world around them. The company demonstrated a prototype smartphone developed as part of the initiative in February. The device was equipped with a 4-megapixel camera, a combined RGB and infrared sensor, and a lower-resolution image-tracking camera that allowed it to capture 3D models of real-world space and objects as it was swept around a room.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the tablets could be released ahead of Google's I/O developer conference in late June. A number of the tablets are to be given to developers, the publication says. Google took the same approach with its prototype smartphones in February, distributing 200 of the devices to companies and creators so they could build apps that took advantage of the technology. NASA was one such benefactor. The space agency is working with Google to integrate Project Tango's sensors into its volleyball-sized SPHERE robots in a bid to help the colorful machines navigate the cluttered interiors of the International Space Station more effectively.