Google unveils 3D sensor smartphone

Google unveils prototype smartphone with "customised hardware and software" that enables it to create 3D maps of a user's surroundings.

Google launched Project Tango, a prototype Android phone that is built around 3D mapping. It uses a 4MP camera, motion tracking camera, and two processors to produce a 3D render of an actual space, in real time as the phone is moved around it.

Though it's only in the early stages of testing, the site proposes some possible applications like capturing the measurements of your home before furniture shopping, giving more specific directions with spacial awareness of building interiors, or augmented reality games.

Various firms, including Google, have been looking at developing niche technology.

For its part, Google has already unveiled its Google Glass - the intelligent specs due to go on sale later this year.

Earlier this year, the firm said it is also working on a "smart contact lens" that can help measure glucose levels in tears.

Also in January, it bought DeepMind, a UK firm that specialises in artificial intelligence, for £400m.

According to DeepMind's website it builds "powerful general-purpose learning algorithms".

Analysts say that firms have been looking at ways to help bring the advances made in technology to practical use in every day life in an attempt to attract more customers.

Last year, Japanese firm Sony filed a patent for a "SmartWig", with healthcare cited as one of its potential uses along with the ability to help blind people navigate roads.

It said the wig could use a combination of sensors to help collect information such as temperature, pulse and blood pressure of the wearer.