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Google reveals tablet that can sense the world in 3D

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Google's Project Tango smartphone uses a variety of sensors to see and map the world around it in 3D, and now Google is building all of that functionality into a tablet. The Project Tango Tablet, being unveiled today, comes four months after Google announced the initial experimental smartphone, which it's developing as a way to improve indoor mapping and visual assistance, and even offer new avenues for gaming. The tablet will be sold as a $1,024 development kit later this year, and Google is reportedly building thousands of them — a big difference from the 200 smartphones it distributed in March.

"Designed for professional developers interested in exploring the future of mobile 3D sensing."

The tablet was made in collaboration with Nvidia and includes a 7-inch display, a Tegra K1 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and LTE connectivity. But of course, its biggest addition is its camera and depth sensor, which lets the tablet discern its orientation and begin taking measurements of its surroundings, allowing it to building out a map of indoor locations. Google has thrown out a lot of different ideas about what this ability can be used for, but the key focus appears to be creating maps inside of public buildings. Even so, it wants developers to experiment. "These development kits are designed for professional developers interested in exploring the future of mobile 3D sensing," Google writes.

When Google's Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP) initially unveiled the Tango smartphone, it stressed that the technology was still at a very early stage. But its newfound eagerness to get these sensors out to developers suggests that Google might actually be serious about turning Tango's abilities into something found on consumer phones. It doesn't provide an update on how far along or mature the project is, but it's clearly excited. In introducing the new tablet, ATAP writes: "The future is awesome."

You can see what it's like to use the Tango smartphone below.