Google challenged developers earlier this year to create some impressive new apps for Project Tango, an experimental tablet that can map the world around it. The winners of that contest are being announced today, with four apps chosen in total: an overall winner, the best game or entertainment app, the best augmented or virtual reality app, and the best utility. Three out of the four winners are games — it's not a diverse field, in that sense — but the games all put Tango to use in very different genres, which still helps to demonstrate how this technology can be used.
The overall winner is a puzzle game called WeR Cubed, which involves flipping a cube around other cubes until they all turn the right color. While the control scheme doesn't rely on Tango — you just touch to move the player-controlled cube — Tango does allow players to view different sides of the puzzle by walking around their room as though the puzzle was in the middle of it. WeR Cubed unfortunately doesn't demonstrate that in its tech demo, but you can get an idea for the game in the video below.
The award for best game or entertainment app is going to Ghostly Mansion. It's another 3D puzzle game, but in a very different way than WeR Cubed. It takes place in a spooky 3D mansion, and the entire game is controlled by walking around holding Tango. You play as a ghost searching for clues to your own death, all of which you find and collect by approaching them with Tango.
The winner for best augmented or virtual reality app is, of course, also a game. It's called InnAR Wars, and it essentially turns a room or series of rooms into a galaxy filled with asteroids and planets. Two players can battle over territory by walking around the room to place bases and instigate attacks.
The final winner is Phi.3D in the utility category. It's basically a tool that takes advantage of Tango's core use: mapping. You move around a room using Phi.3D, and eventually the app will create a 3D model of your environment, supposedly one that's detailed enough to be used for basic engineering work.
The category winners are all receiving a $4,096 prize, while the overall winner is receiving $8,192. The category winners were picked specifically by Google's judges, while Tango developers voted for the overall winner. These aren't all brilliant, thorough uses of Tango, but even those that put it to basic use hint at the more complicated interactions that are possible. To get more people working on Tango, Google is also planning to offer discounts on its development kit. In the next few weeks, it'll start offering developers the chance to buy a single unit at half of its normal price. The tablets currently sell for $512 a piece.