Google Tango, AR, Qualcomm Snapdragon

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It has been revealed that Google and Qualcomm have being working together for the past one and a half years to produce a chipset that is compatible with Tango.

Google Tango, AR, Qualcomm Snapdragon
Qualcomm Snapdragon

Tango is now the name of the Google’s Augmented Reality software that came out of Project Tango. Though Project Tango started out as a virtual reality endeavor, it was upgraded to the more modern Augmented Reality (AR) project that is now the rage.

Augmented Reality is more modern and more advanced, that is why the shift to AR became an imperative for Project Tango.

Google Tango, AR, Qualcomm Snapdragon
Google Tango in action

According to the report, two chipset would be made by Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 800 and the 600. Both chipset would make it easier for manufactures to include Tango in their smartphones.

This is all about the integrating of hardware and software. The hardware being the new chipset. While Tango is the software that would run on the compatible chipsets.

The immediate impact of these when it hits the market is the cost of phones. This is another reason to increase the price of mobile handsets around the world. There is no getting round this. Consumers would need to pay more if they want to enjoy the latest AR software on their mobile devices.

Lenovo Phab2 Pro Came too soom

The Lenovo Phab2 Pro was launched some weeks ago to a lot of fanfare as the first Project Tango phone. So why not buy the Phab2 Pro with its Snapdragon 625 chipset and forget about any new and most likely more expensive AR handset?

Google Tango, AR, Qualcomm Snapdragon
Lenovo Phab 2 Pro

Tango, that is the finished software not the project, had an extra computer vision chip to make it an effective AR software. However, the Tango phone, Lenovo phab2 Pro, did not have that extra chip. Something to do with the unavailability of the component on the Snapdragon 625

So in short and simple terms, the Snapdragon 625 is not fully compatible with Tango. Maybe, Lenovo should have waited for a while before releasing the phone.

The Tango-compatible Chipset

Like I stated earlier, Snapdragon would tweak it’s latest 820 chipset to make them compatible with Tango. And future production of the 800 and 600 chipsets would also include this tweak. So everything is all about making sure AR works very well on all Snapdragon-based phones in the future. I think arstecnica explained the specifics behind the new chipsets very well:

Qualcomm calls this the “Snapdragon Heterogeneous Processing Architecture,” which in English means typically non-compute-heavy chips in an SoC—the DSP, sensor hub, and Image Signal Processor (ISP)—all get recruited for compute duties in a Tango phone.

The DSP, or digital signal processor, usually handles the multimedia duties of a phone, but Qualcomm has been expanding the Snapdragon DSP (called the “Hexagon DSP“) for general-purpose computing for some time. 

As a result, Qualcomm claims you’ll be able to run all of Tango’s algorithms and sensors with a “less than 10%” CPU overhead compared to a normal app. Qualcomm also touts all of this as being low-power, but that’s something we’ll have to investigate when we get ahold of final hardware.”

Google Tango, AR, Qualcomm Snapdragon
Tango On Snapdragon

The Bottomline

In the final analysis, what consumers are mostly interested in is how much they have to pay for a new technology. The first but ultimately limited Tango phone from Lenovo would cost about $500 dollars when it is released in September.

That is the price of a not-so-good AR phone. So the reality is, a better Tango phone would cost not less than that. Unless the Chinese come up with something that gives a good simulation of AR at a low price, low income individuals won’t be able to afford it.

However, the Chinese always do come up with something. I have learnt never to underestimate them.


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