Google’s Project Tango gets the teardown treatment: More Camera than Phone

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Google’s Project Tango is an interesting concept that was revealed earlier this year. A device prototype was also shown and iFixit has got it’s hands on a prototype. And in usual fashion, iFixit has tore it apart and found out some interesting stuff about Project Tango.

Here is our primer to Project Tango and here is the short version: Basically, Project Tango is an idea of a device which is aware of it’s surroundings and can generate a 3D map of it’s surroundings with the help of a variety of sensors paired up with multiple cameras.

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The Project Tango prototype has a 3000mAh battery, three types of USB ports (USB, Mini-USB and finally Micro-USB), three cameras (More detail on these below), a standard speedy Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, motion tracking sensors (From InvenSense), a 5 inch screen and finally two dedicated vision-coprocessors for actually taking in the data from the barrage of sensors at their disposal.

The cameras are the most important and interesting part of Project Tango. Instead of having one back camera and one front-camera like a traditional smartphone, the Project Tango prototype has got two back-cameras and one front-camera (All from OmniVision)

The main back-camera has a 4-MP resolution along with an IR sensor for sensing depth in a 3-dimensional space and there is also a camera with a 180 degree Fish-eye lense, which shoots in Black and White and is used to detect motion.

Project Tango's infrared projector in action


The way Project Tango maps it’s surroundings is similar to the way the Kinect’s 3D depth sensing tech, i.e by creating a grid of dots to measure distance.

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Along with ground-breaking camera tech, the Project Tango prototype scores a 9/10 for repairability, which is the highest score for a smartphone and is quite a feat considering the amount and variety of components packed inside.

Here’s the reason why the Project Tango prototype got such a high score (From iFixit):

  • The battery can be replaced in seconds with no tools.
  • Seven screws hold the entire device together.
  • Several modular components can be replaced independently: speakers, cameras (all three!), IR projector, and display assembly.
  • A few components remain soldered onto the motherboard, increasing replacement difficulty. These include the vibrator motor and USB ports.


This isn’t Google’s only revolutionary phone project however, there is also Project Ara. While Project Tango aims for making the device sense it’s position and movement in a 3D space, Project Ara aims to change the way we buy and upgrade smartphones, forever.

Having a device that can know it’s surroundings in your pocket is exciting, isn’t it?

Project Tango’s 3D mapping capabilities are no doubt revolutionary, however it is upto the developers to make apps that employ creative and innovative uses for this new technology.

Sources: iFixit


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