Google Tango augmented reality is making its way to a museum near you

google tango ar museums museum header
Augmented reality (AR) has taken some serious steps over the last couple of years, moving from simple mobile apps like Google Goggles to full systems with much more powerful applications. Much of that has to do with Microsoft’s HoloLens technology, which moved AR to parity with emerging virtual reality (VR) systems, but Microsoft isn’t alone.

Another important player in AR is Google, with its Tango initiative that lets smartphones provide on on-screen AR experience using built-in sensors that provide the required motion-tracking, area learning, and depth perception functionality. Tango is making its way into the real world, and one of the first functional applications is in museums starting with the Detroit Institute of Arts, according to the Google blog.

The idea is simple but powerful: Walk into the facility, and you can request one of the first Tango-enabled smartphones, the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro. Then, when you walk around the museum and marvel at the exhibits, you can use the Lumin app developed in partnership with GuidiGo to overlay an AR experience that great expands on what you can see with the naked eye.

For example, without AR, you’d be limited to simply looking at the exterior of the an ancient Egyptian mummy. With Tango, you actually look into the sarcophagus and the mummy’s bandages and peer at the mummy’s actual skeleton.

Another example is the ability to extrapolate from the museum’s three-foot by four-foot mosaic piece to the complete Ishtar Gate. Tango’s motion tracking technology makes it possible to visualize the gate’s entire six-story structure and imagine the structure’s actual massive scale.

Mesopotamian limestone reliefs also come to live with Tango. While today’s relics are faded and drab, the original reliefs were vibrantly colored — and AR lets you see them in all of their original glory as if thousands of years hadn’t actually passed.

Finally, Tango lets you unlock Mesopotamian cylinder seals. Inside, clay impressions that were used to keep track of things like jewelry and signatures can be visualized without breaking the seals.

AR holds tremendous promise in terms of allowing us to see things in realistic 3D that are either hidden or have long faded away. Google’s Tango is one of the first affordable real-world systems that can bring AR applications to life, and museums certainly seem like great places to start.

Mobile

From the road to your wrist, see how Android has evolved over the past 10 years

Android started out as just a mobile operating system, but 10 years in it's pretty much everywhere. Check out our round-up of all the different Android variations that have cropped up so far, and what might be coming in the future.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fortnite.
Smart Home

How to talk to Santa on Alexa and Google Assistant

Nothing say "holiday" like talking to Santa. Here's how to talk to Santa on Alexa and Google Assistant, whether he's helping you create a playlist or checking to see if you've been naughty or nice this week.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best gear and gadgetry you can snag for $100 or less

A $100 bill can get you further than you might think -- so long as you know where to look. Check out our picks for the best tech under $100, whether you're in the market for headphones or a virtual-reality headset.
Computing

Oculus VR could upgrade the Rift with a new display in 2019

Oculus could be set to release a new version of its Rift headset in 2019, but it will be more of a modest upgrade than a true sequel. The Rift S, as its purportedly called, will have a new display, and inside-out tracking.
Mobile

Google awarded patent for using eye tracking to detect expressions in VR

Google was awarded a patent that involves using eye tracking to infer facial expressions using machine learning in virtual reality. The tech could help make virtual reality a whole lot more immersive than it already is.
Gaming

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Virtual Reality

Prototype Valve VR headset leaked: HTC Vive challenger confirmed?

Leaked images revealed that a Valve VR headset is in development, even amid Valve's partnership with HTC for the HTC Vive. Sources confirmed the device, which may be bundled with a Half-Life VR game.
Virtual Reality

Is the Vive Pro better than the original Vive? Our answer might surprise you

HTC Vive vs. Vive Pro, which comes out on top? That's the subject of our latest comparison, which looks at everything from tracking solutions, to controllers, and the brand new headset that could set a new standard for VR.
Gaming

The best HTC Vive games available today

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Computing

A Google patent shows a way to make VR even more immersive

Virtual reality can be a really immersive experience, but it does sometimes it does have boundaries. Google has addressed this problem by patenting shoes with a flexible region on the bottom.
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.