Sunday, May 25, 2014

Will 3D Images Be Google’s Next Great Innovation?

Every product has a limited life and the only thing that can stretch its life is product development. Google (GOOG) constantly keeps improving its smartphone offerings with the aim to provide better and innovative features to its users. But no matter how much development is taking place, the scope of the offering is not expanding much. What about giving something new to the users? Well, it seems, with this latest development, Google is on to that.

The Mountain View based tech giant is busy working on a technology that will allow the users to take 3 dimensional (3D) pictures using their smartphones and tablets, allowing them to come out of the 2D world of pictures. Google has been working on this technology for quite some time now and finally it is going to roll out 4,000 tablets next month for the developers. The intention behind the move is to provide the developers with a prototype device which they can use to create apps that will complement the technology.

The Innovation And Its Implications Google is still in the testing phase of this technology and has not commented on how soon one can expect it to be commercially available. For the test phase the company has decided to offer the developers with tablets and not smartphones, forcing many to ask the question if the technology will be optimized for tablets only. However, industry experts and analysts are more than sure that the company will put equal weights on both the type of devices.

The latest trend in the smartphone space revolves around devices with improved camera capabilities. Companies such as Nokia (NOK) and Sony (SNE) have already started realizing the changing needs of the consumers and have started offering handsets with high quality camera. In fact, for several of these handsets, the camera quality is the unique selling point. Even Apple (AAPL) stresses greatly on the capabilities of the iSight camera in its devices.

Google too has taken a note of changing consumer preference and it's this realization that has pushed the company to develop 3D imaging. Despite innumerable advancements in the camera technology, the company feels the present day smartphone cameras are not able to do justice to the consumer needs. According the Johnny Lee, Project Lead at Advanced Technology and Project (ATAP) Group of Google, "Human beings live in a 3 dimensional world and yet the mobile devices assume that the physical world ends at the boundaries of the screen". Google wants to address this exact issue by incorporating in the devices "a human scale feeling of space and motion".

The tech guys at Google and even industry experts believe that once the technology has been tested and improved and made commercially available, it will be able to change the fundamentals of the way in which people interact with their environment.

How Is This Being Done In February Google had introduced a prototype smartphone that was being used by the tech guys at ATAP to improve the technology and finally it seems it must be ready since the company now wants the developers to take a look at it. The tablet devices that Google will roll out will be very similar to the smartphone it used, the only difference being in the screen size. The devices will come with a 4 megapixel rear camera, a motion tracking camera, infrared depth sensors and will be accompanied by software designed to capture 3D images.

The device will capture the image using the rear camera and the motion tracking camera will let the device understand from which angle the image is being taken. The motion tracking camera and the infrared depth sensors will allow the phone to track its motion in full 3D. The sensors will simultaneously take measurements and will update the position of the phone along with rotations and will finally bring together all the information in a single 3D model.

Departing Thoughts All this sounds pretty interesting no doubt, but the question remains how soon Google can translate this technology from being an idea into an actual commercial application. The primary barrier that Google is likely to face is not related to the development of the technology, rather it will be related to its application. The technology may be already ready, but the usage is yet to be seen. Even Google is not sure of the limits of 3D imaging and that's why it's allowing the developers to access it. It will be upon these developers to interpret, improvise and translate the technology into realistic applications that can make everyday life easier for the consumers. Once this dream is realized, this technology surely has the potential to change the smartphone and tablet game, yet again.

About the author:Quick PenA seasonal writer with a Management Degree in Finance and interests in automotive, technology, telecommunication and aerospace sectors.
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