The Project Tango smartphone is coming and it's more useful than you think

We got a look at how the Tango's mapping capabilities can be used for everyday tasks—as well as for having a little fun inside your home.

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Adam Patrick Murray

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I can’t wait for Lenovo’s first consumer-oriented Project Tango smartphone to be announced—especially after the demo I just had at Google I/O. I’ve already seen how Project Tango is used in the International Space Station, as well as in a museum as an augmented reality guide. But on Thursday I saw its application for everyday household situations. It’s all finally starting to come together.

Project Tango’s advanced mapping technology and augmented reality abilities are exceptionally neat, but I’ve been waiting for Google to convince me that it’s actually worth buying (at least as anything more than something to brag about to other tech enthusiasts). I still haven’t seen the smartphone, but I did get to see a few demonstrations where its underlying technology could be helpful at home.

For instance: The MeasureIt app can be used as a digital measuring tool for your house. Just point the rear-facing camera towards the object you want to measure, and then wait for the readout. The application will automatically snap a line to each angle of the object, so you don’t have to worry about being precise. After everything’s been mapped, the measurements pop up over the top of each object in augmented reality. You can even use the app to check to see if your foundation is level.

Another demo showed off the new Lowes and WayFair Next apps, which help you visualize how your next purchase will look in your home. Sure, both apps seem designed to encourage you to pull the trigger on that new couch or that fancy convection oven. But they’re also excellent examples of how Tango’s technology can be used to aid even the most menial life decisions.

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A look at the augmented reality game for Project Tango called Funemona.

Google also demoed how to have fun with Tango. I got to see both Funemona and Phantogeist in action. The former lets you drag and drop interactive characters and objects into your current environment, while the latter lets you blast through walls to eliminate aliens hiding within Tango’s virtual dimension. Both games look like fun, but you’ll need just the right hardware—which is on the way, as Lenovo will be debuting its Tango phone at Tech World on June 9

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