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Google's Project Tango cuts the rug at Mobile World CongressCNET's Kara Tsuboi and Seth Rosenblatt discuss Google's exploration of 3D mapping. Find out how Project Tango could affect the lives of the vision impaired, make gaming more dynamic, and simplify your wanderings at Ikea.
-Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Inside Scoop. I'm CNET's Kara Tsuboi joined by Senior Writer Seth Rosenblatt. And Seth, we're in the middle of Mobile World Congress right now in Barcelona. -Uh-hmm. -And Google has an interesting offer that's starting to bubble up over there. -Yes. -It's called Project Tango. -Project Tango. It's perfect for Barcelona. -Tell us a bit more about that. -So Project Tango is a really interesting new 3D mapping tool for mobile phones and it's based on a new processor that allows the phone to see the world, render it, so that the phone can understand and then spit it back out on your screen in a way that you can understand it all in a blink of an eye. -All right, sounds cool but how and why would I ever use this? -Sure. This could be really, really important for people who are vision impaired, helping them cross streets, helping map the interior of buildings as they're walking, as they're moving through a new building for the first time. It could tell them this is a wall. Here's the door, here's the elevator that you're looking for. This also has gaming implications to be able to turn a real-world space especially an indoor space into a game, again, in the blink of an eye. And of course it really has, you know, a lot of fun implications too. You can map your rooms simply by waving your phone around and then you can go to IKEA and get whatever furniture you need. -So that's what I'm picturing. You're gonna hold your phone and is it through the camera, that's how we pick up-- -Uh-hmm. Through the camera-- yeah. -Okay. And just to be clear. -Uh-hmm. -This is not available immediately. -This is not available immediately but the CEO of the company that makes the chip that's partnered with Google has told me that this is coming in the coming quarters. This isn't something five years down the line. This is maybe two years down the line if not sooner. -And do you feel like Google is doing this out of pressure to what exactly, to just develop their camera app even further or to compete? -I think this is Google's attempt to do a lot of different things. It comes from an interior group at Google that they picked up from Motorola that has roots in DARPA. So they're really interested in pushing what the technology can do. But, of course, Google is obviously looking at this from its traditional wheel houses and it's saying, "Oh, well. This is mapping." Google does really well with mapping. Indoor mapping has been something that's been challenging and difficult for not just Google, for everybody in the mapping space. So for them to get a leg up especially on something like this is phenomenal. -I guess what you can see how it could also be paired and partnered with all sorts of other apps, you know. -Uh-hmm. -To offer what-- 3D models of the inside of shopping malls for example-- -Absolutely. -or stores. You know, you go into a bookstore where do you find that specific book. -Exactly, exactly. You're going to especially like a used bookstore to use your example and to know exactly where the fiction is or the cookbooks are because, you know, used bookstores are all different. So something like that could have a lot of very basic but very helpful applications. -And now I'm seeing the partnership between this and Google Glass. -Uh-hmm. -Imagine if you didn't even have to hold up your phone. -Exactly, exactly. So if it's tied to Glass, if it's tied to other wearables, the implications are really exciting I think. -So the fact that this Project even exist. It's coming out, expect big news in the coming months? -I would say probably within two years if not sooner. And the fact that they're working with existing phone makers, they're working with Google and Google Android and they're working with the chip makers. This isn't something where they're going to compete with existing chip makers. This is an entirely new kind of hardware chip. So, again, this is gonna change a lot of things for a lot of different industries. -Anything else getting you really excited out of Mobile World Congress? -You know, there is one interesting thing and that is-- these push at Mobile World Congress especially this Mobile World Congress to develop smartphones for emerging markets, for the developing world. -Of course. -Microsoft and Nokia just released their Nokia X, and that's a version of Android that runs Microsoft services that's aimed again, people who have never hard smartphones. -Uh-hmm. -And Firefox OS from Mozilla, the people who make your Firefox browser have come out with a $25-smartphone, very basic, very simple-- -They do hardware. -but they are working with partners and they've come up with some very low-end hardware for people's first smartphones because currently, we've got about 2 billion people in the internet and all these vendors are looking at where the next 2 billion are coming from and it's gonna be smartphones. -Neat. Great to hear about some of the less-publicized news out of Mobile World Congress and stuff. -Yeah. Samsung who? -Seth Rosenblatt, I'm Kara Tsuboi. Thanks for watching the Inside Scoop.