Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) team today took the wraps off Project Tango, a smartphone prototype that packs a remarkable new chip that brings 3D motion tracking to a mobile device.

The firm plans to send an initial batch of units to software developers in March to get them started on creating new experiences with the hardware. Suggested project topics include “indoor navigation/mapping, single/multiplayer games that use physical space, and new algorithms for processing sensor data.” Interested developers can head here to request a prototype kit.

The device utilizes the Myriad 1 vision processor chip from Movidius. TechCrunch has a behind-the-scenes look at the new chip, which combines unprecedented power efficiency with computer vision processing. With the help of Myriad 1, the Project Tango hardware is capable of making a quarter million 3D measurements per second, allowing it to create a map of its surroundings.

While Project Tango isn’t currently part of the Android platform, ATAP acknowledged that today’s launch is an initial step toward bringing the technology “out of research labs into the hands of millions of people.

Google spun the ATAP team out as a moonshot research lab prior to selling Motorola to Lenovo. You might also recognize ATAP from its work on Motorola’s Project Ara modular smartphone.

Project Tango

Image credit: Google