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(Pocket-lint) - Google has announced Project Tango. It's an Android-based smartphone prototype and developer kit that comes with advanced 3D sensors.

Google described its prototype as a 5-inch smartphone equipped with hardware and software designed to "track the full 3D motion of the device, while simultaneously creating a map of the environment". As for those advanced 3D sensors, which come from Google's Advanced Technology and Projects hardware team, they allow the prototype to "make over a quarter million 3D measurements every second".

With the ability to track motion and scan in 3D, Google is hoping Project Tango will spearhead indoor navigation, immersive gaming, and augmented reality, etc. In fact, Google is letting developers sign up for access to its prototype starting today. The first batch will go to a hand-picked group of 200 developers who can prove they have a solid idea for the device. Google will dole out all prototypes and kits by 14 March.

Google told Pocket-lint that ATAP is lead by ex-Kinect developer Jonny Lee, and the company has been working quietly on it over the past year. Furthermore, ATAP is in its "very early stages". 

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Potential Project Tango applications include being able to capture the dimensions of your home by walking around with your phone, playing hide-and-seek in your house with a game character, transforming your hallways into a tree-lined path, competing against friends for control over territories in your home, or hiding virtual treasures in physical places, according to Google.

"We’re looking for professional developers with dreams of creating more than a touch-screen app. These devices were built with the unique ability to sense 3D motion and geometry," explained Google on its ATAP Project Tango website. "We want partners who will push the technology forward and build great user experiences on top of this platform."

Google's smartphone prototype runs Android and includes development APIs. Since this is an early build of the prototype, and because the APIs are still in active development, Google warned that Project Tango is an experimental device at the moment and is not a final shipping product.

Writing by Elyse Betters. Originally published on 20 February 2014.