Skip to main content

Google, Qualcomm bring Project Tango tech to Snapdragon processors

google qualcomm project tango snapdragon lenovo phab plus pro 17
Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends
Google’s Project Tango, the company’s depth-sensing tech capable of mapping a room in 3D, is getting a serious boost in the form of a partnership with chipmaker Qualcomm. According to Ars Technica, the two companies have collaborated on augmented reality architecture that will make its debut on Lenovo’s upcoming Phab2 Pro.

Prototypical Project Tango devices packed a specialized chip from vision-processing company Movidus that handled most of Tango’s heavy software lifting. Now Qualcomm, with the help of Google, has adapted the underlying tech to much of its existing upcoming Snapdragon 600 and 800 processors.

Using a technique the company calls “Snapdragon Heterogeneous Processing Architecture,” smartphones packing the appropriate silicon commandeer various co-processors — the image signal processor (ISP) responsible for interpreting camera snaps, for example, and the digital signal processor responsible (DSP) usually charged with listening for Google Now commands — for use in Tango applications.

In other words, the smartphone’s primary processor taps into the handset’s (frequently idle) specialized hardware for a temporary processing boost, and the results speak for themselves: According to Qualcomm, Tango’s overhead is “less than 10 percent.”

Better yet, Qualcomm’s heterogeneous processing doesn’t require any proprietary components. It’ll work on any phone with a DSP, ISP, and other co-processors like the sensor hub in Huawei’s Nexus 6P. And that was the plan all along — Ars Technica reports that Qualcomm’s been “working closely” with Google’s Tango team for the better part of a year on bringing backwards-compatible heterogeneous computing to the manufacturer’s silicon lineup. Short of the depth sensor and motion-tracking camera that Tango requires, there is nothing technical preventing, say, an old Moto X from running Google’s AR applications just as efficiently.

“We’ve been talking about heterogeneous computing for a long time, and Project Tango represents one of the best use cases so far,” a Qualcomm representative told Digital Trends. “We expect to see broad adoption of the technology in the future.”

The Phab2 Pro, which packs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 652 processor and retails in September for $499, is the first step toward Google’s larger AR and virtual reality ambitions. In May, Bloomberg reported that the company hoped to recruit grocery chains, museums, and game developers to produce interior building maps and games with Tango tech. And at its I/O developer conference in June, Google announced Daydream, an initiative aimed at bringing high-quality VR experiences to smartphones.

Editors' Recommendations

Kyle Wiggers
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kyle Wiggers is a writer, Web designer, and podcaster with an acute interest in all things tech. When not reviewing gadgets…
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 flagship chip is coming this November
1290537 autosave v1 2 qualcomm snapdragon 845

Qualcomm has announced the dates for the Snapdragon Summit 2022. As rumored, the event will take place earlier than its usual timeline in November. It will run from November 15 to November 17. At the Summit, Qualcomm will showcase its latest and greatest innovations for the year ahead, along with its flagship chipset. Last year, it was the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset that made headlines with the new naming scheme. As such, it's likely that Qualcomm will follow the line to name the next processor as Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.

The tech giant revealed the information on its official website with a brief clip. The video proclaims that its viewers should get ready for the next wave of tech at Qualcomm’s biggest showcase of the year. COVID-19 didn’t allow for in-person events in 2020, but just like last year, the Snapdragon Summit is returning to Hawaii for 2022. While we don’t have the lineup of the products expected at the event, it’s certain that we will see the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2.

Read more
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 chip might actually save Android smartwatches
The Mobvoi TicWatch 3 Pro on someone's wrist.

Qualcomm has a new wearable chip for smartwatches. Actually, there are two of them. They're the Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 Gen 1 and W5+ Gen 1, and Qualcomm thinks they're the next big revolution in smartwatch chipsets.

Stop me if you've heard this one before. The Snapdragon Wear 3100 from 2018 was also supposed to supercharge Wear OS watches and take them to the next level. But beyond some fairly modest battery improvements, performance on the Wear 3100 left a lot to be desired. And 2020's Wear 4100 and Wear 4100+ chips weren't much better. Qualcomm again made some battery improvements and performance gains, but seldom few smartwatches actually adopted the 4100 platform. A handful of watches from Mobvoi and Fossil use a 4100-series chip, and that's about it. Samsung's Galaxy Watch lineup is using Exynos chips, and rumors even suggest Google's Pixel Watch will do the same.

Read more
Here are Qualcomm’s latest processors and new AR glasses
Mockup renders of reference smartphones with Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 and Snapdragon 7 Gen 1

Qualcomm today announced the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, the souped-up version of its flagship system-on-a-chip (SoC), while marking a shift to its newest naming scheme for the 700 series with its launch of the Snapdragon 7 Gen 1. Devices powered by these mobile platforms will arrive in the market starting in the current quarter of 2022. In addition, the chipmaker is betting big on a blend of augmented and virtual realities with the introduction of its new wireless smart glasses running on the Snapdragon XR2 platform.

Qualcomm dominates the mobile ecosystem with its vast array of silicon-based solutions for consumer electronics and telecom products. Its Snapdragon 800 series has been the default solution for smartphone manufacturers to power their high-end products. That remains true to date with leading devices, including the Galaxy S22 series, the OnePlus 10 Pro, Motorola Edge Plus (2022), and many more relying on the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 for breathtaking performance. In comparison, the MediaTek Dimensity 9000, Samsung's Exynos 2200, and Google's Tensor have only a handful of takers.

Read more