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Google brings Tango augmented reality to museums

by on12 January 2017

Just pick up a Lenovo Phab 2 Pro at front desk

Google’s augmented reality platform, Tango, is set to appear in museums later this year for visitors to interact with a variety of exhibitions and cultural artifacts using their smartphones, according to the company’s latest blog post.

The first museum to partner with Google’s augmented reality initiative will be the Detroit Institute of Arts, which has just created a mobile tour called Lumin that uses AR interactivity in Tango to provide guests with information on a variety of ancient history displays. One example includes using an AR overlay to render X-ray-like view of an Ancient Egyptian mummy and sarcophagus, allowing visitors to take a peek at the skeleton and various bandages. Another example is the six-story Ishtar Gate from Ancient Babylonia, where using a composited AR overlay will enable visitors to see the museum’s 3 by 4-foot museum piece fitted into a digital rendering of the Walls of Babylon, one of the original seven wonders of the world.

google tango augmented reality detroit institute of arts

Source: Google Blog

Using Tango, the museum also hopes to show several limestone reliefs from Mesopotamia to create an augmented rendition of the original sculpted artwork prior to aging. The AR platform should also allow visitors to roll up several small cylinder seals that were once used to make clay impressions for jewelry and administrative signatures or stamps.

Google augmented reality platform is a bit different than other computer vision products on the market as it is chiefly designed to run on mobile devices to gather information about surrounding objects and the environment. The system determines a device’s position and orientation through three methods – motion tracking (using the accelerometer and gyroscope), area learning with metadata, and depth perception for detecting object distances and properties. These three data points generate the “six degrees of freedom” the company then uses to produce detailed 3D information about the environment.

While the platform has mostly been used for commercial auto sales and by NASA for developing autonomous robots, it has recently been released into the consumer sphere starting with the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro in August 2016. The next device to receive integration for Tango AR (and Daydream VR) will be the ASUS Zenfone AR, which was announced at CES 2017. The device will use a three-sensor system consisting of a 23-megapixel camera lens, a secondary motion tracking lens, and a tertiary lens for distance tracking of surrounding objects.

At the Detroit Institute of Arts, users will be able to borrow a Lenovo Phab 2 Pro from the front desk to harness the full capabilities of what was once known as Project Tango. Google hopes to launch similar initiatives with other museums in the near future but has yet to announce any specific plans. 

Last modified on 12 January 2017
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