Chipmaker Qualcomm is expanding its support for Google’s new mobile virtual reality technology, Project Tango, with today’s announcement that the technology will be supported on its popular Snapdragon 820 processor, along with future processors in the Snapdragon 600 and 800 tier.
“Tango is an excellent example of the innovative thinking that delivers valuable next-generation mobile experiences today,” Brent Sammons, senior marketing manager at Qualcomm, wrote on the company’s blog today. “It has the potential of becoming ubiquitous within mobile devices.”
Leveraging a Common Architecture
Qualcomm has already hopped onboard the Tango train with its announcement earlier this month that it would add Tango-specific software optimization to its Snapdragon 652 processor, which powers the Lenovo Phab2 Pro, the first Tango-enabled smartphone.
Some of the benefits the Snapdragon 652 offers for Tango devices include high accuracy, uniform time stamping of multiple sensor data streams; efficient processing without the need for external co-processors; and leading camera and sensor processing technology, the company said.
The Snapdragon 820 (pictured above) will offer the same advantages, as well as the added benefits of its premium Snapdragon 800 tier processors, including higher performance and lower power consumption, according to the company. The decision to expand into the 800 tier was an easy one for Qualcomm to make, Sammons said.
“The fact is, all Snapdragon 600 and 800 series processors share the same architectural advantages needed to deliver Tango experiences in highly mobile form factors,” he said. “Tightly integrated into a single chip, the components of Snapdragon processors are uniquely equipped to simultaneously process data from all five Tango-related sensors.”
The five sensors used by Tango to generate its augmented reality are a gyroscope, accelerometer, and three camera sensors, including two new Tango-specific camera sensors: a fisheye motion tracking camera and a depth sensor camera.
Augmented Reality for Everyone
Each of the Snapdragon 600 and 800 series processors also includes an integrated global high-frequency clock, which performs highly accurate, uniform time stamping of all that sensor data, a feature that is critical for enabling smooth augmented reality experiences, where 3D graphic overlays track virtually seamlessly with physical surroundings.
Those features make it possible for Qualcomm to add Tango functionality to future processors in both tiers without requiring significant modifications to the processors’ existing hardware through additional software development.
Project Tango began a few years ago as part of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group as a way to extend its mapping technology to tablets and other mobile devices in order to provide users with an augmented reality platform. Tango-enabled devices are designed to be aware of their surroundings, including their location, without the need for additional equipment or instrumentation.
The project is similar in terms of capabilities to Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality platform — the key distinction is that Tango devices will have augmented reality capabilities already built into them.