Project Tango is Getting Mindshare
We get excited inquiries quite frequently these days from clients and prospects about "3D Mapping." After some back and forth, we can usually trace it back to someone having seen a video or demo of Project Tango - Google's amazing ATAP project.
We think that is great! As technology and Indoor Mapping geeks, we get pretty excited any time people want to talk about it. This is absolutely a time of revolutionary technologydriven change in mapping generally and indoor mapping in particular. Project Tango is driving a cost vs. capability curve for Indoor Mapping that is truly a game changer. We first started blogging about this last year and will continue to track it for our clients.
So, we are following all the developments intently, are a registered Project Tango developer and have our own R & D project starting shortly on how we can apply this technology to deliver value to our clients and end users.
But It Is Just Part of a Wave of 3D Modeling and Mapping
Google did not invent Project Tango out of a vacuum. Rather, it provided the leadership, resources and impetus to bring together advances of the last several decades across different areas with a clear goal to revolutionize indoor modeling and mapping. Google deserves full credit and kudos for this.
But it is worth noting that there are even more advanced and much more stable and productized solutions out there.
Matterport is one example of these.
So, we have been looking for a visionary, early adopter client that would like to take the plunge with us in 3D mapping!
But the Future Is Not Quite Here Yet
We do think it is important to provide some perspective and a word of caution on the technology, however.
1. A 3D Model is Not the Same Thing as an Indoor Map
This is essential to understand. We first wrote about this last year:
As fantastic and dazzling as Project Tango promised to be, it will not replace the actual work of mapping. Without the human intellectual process of making sense of the data that Project Tango captures, the user will be just as lost inside the 3D Model as they are in the real building!
Project Tango will make Indoor Mapping faster and easier to be sure. But a 3D model is not a map.
2. This is very bleeding edge technology. i.e. Immature
Aisle411 did a very cool project with Walmart last year, for example.
Really fun, fantastic, visionary - and very successful proof-of-concept. But it did not go into every Walmart store or even stay in the one where it was piloted.
That's not because the technology was not great. Simply that it is not mature, and more importantly still searching for the right ways to apply it that consumers actually want to use. Pioneers like Aisle411 and Walmart will find that formula and the technology will become more stable. But not without a lot of trial and error along the way.
3. There are almost certain to be some setbacks
I would just point to the recent pullback by Google on Google Glasses as Exhibit A.
4. The devices that can take advantage of Tango are not even on the market yet, and will be very high end and oriented towards gaming and professional applications for at least the next several years.
LG is the only OEM that has signed up so far, and after a lot of announcements at last year's Google I/O there have been no further details.
5. There are some fundamental UX challenges in using this for Wayfinding
When we arrive at the day the user will still always need to hold the phone up so that it can "see" the building. While that will be find for some types of users, it will be a real problem for others especially as a solution for the range of demographics at a hospital. Or even for a superhip conventiongoer walking through miles long exhibits!
A much easier and better user experience and for a variety of reasons technically superior will be to either:
rely primarily on an audio UX with the map on your smartphone for occasional reference what we do now and the universal UX for incar navigation; or
put on a Google Glasses device where the “invisible map” can be superimposed on the real world a user is actually seeing.
Want to Do Some 3D Modeling or Mapping? Let Us Know!
We absolutely know this technology will revolutionize our business and have huge positive benefits to clients and end users. We just cannot in good conscience recommend it as ready for mass deployment and broad consumer uses.
But you can rest assured that we are excited and eager to cut the path with early adopters and visionaries that can and are willing to take the bumps and bruises along with us. If you are one of them, please contact us!