We are physical beings that live in a 3D world. Yet, our mobile devices assume that physical world ends at the boundaries of the screen.
Project Tango is prototype mobile technology that packs an insane amount of physical sensors into a device and uses them to construct a model of its environment (check the video). It’s clearly awesome tech but what is it actually good for?
The main pitch for the device seems to be in capturing the shape of room of the room you’re in so that they can be digitally modelled: if you like Minecraft, you’ll love this. Feels like it tickles a psychological desire to capture as much of the complex physical world as possible and feed it into the digital domain, to become more manageable. Once there, it can form the backdrop for an augmented reality game viewable through a 5″ window.
I found myself pondering this during a bout of terminal insomnia recently and counted sheep by tweeting applications of this I’d actually buy into. A couple of these survive full consciousness.
Firstly, this is a feature that would let you use your mobile literally as you walked. Those YouTube-tastic moments of walking into bollards, stepping on small dogs and colliding with dawdling tourists could be neatly dodged as your device invisibly probes the space in front of you 250000 times a second.
Second, I think it’s inevitable that we are going to end up turning the thing on ourselves. Why might you take a 3D selfie? There’s an app category for that: Health. Tracking your weight, steps and pulse are one thing: having a 3D model of your body (or the parts of interest) showing which way things are going is rather another. It’s the perfect complement to a 3D printer. And I didn’t even mention porn.