As opposed to Tango, ARCore does not need specialized hardware to support a significant part of the Tango functionality (at least when it comes to consumer applications) and promises to work on normal, reasonably powerful Android-based smartphones. Therefore, for AR software developers and for Google it makes sense to focus on ARCore just because it promises to be available to hundreds of millions of users worldwide. So now augmented reality can be experienced by everyone without requiring any special cameras or sensors.

A lot of features of ARcore find their roots in Tango. So, while the project Tango is dead, its elements are going to be used here and there.

The working of Tango required the use of a lot of hardware namely an RGB camera, a motion tracking camera, IR depth sensors, accelerometers, gyroscopes, etc. to capture the 3D space around the device. To process this data and actually understand the positions of objects in a 3D space more sophisticated devices like the Movidius Myriad 1 processor and additional microcontrollers for sensor and timestamp functionality were needed. Given the hardware requirements of Tango and their costs, the initiative was slow to gather traction outside of Google. So the company urges Tango developers to migrate to the more common ARCore framework that does not need specialized hardware and thus can be used with mainstream smartphones.

ARCore utilises a combination of three factors:

  • Motion Tracking: Using the phone’s camera, ARCore supposedly determines both the position and orientation (pose) of the phone as it moves.
  • Environmental understanding: Google claims ARCore can detect horizontal surfaces using the same feature points it uses for motion tracking.
  • Light Estimation: ARCore claims to observe the ambient light in the environment, making it possible for developers to light virtual objects in ways that match their surroundings.

ARCore was initially available on Google’s Pixel smartphones as well as the Samsung Galaxy S8. Google had announced that ARCore will soon be available for most Android 7.0 Nougat phones.

There are more Tango phones coming, and ARCore is never going to be as capable as Tango because the physical hardware is an important part of how that technology works. But it’s also true that no one is using Tango right now, and ARCore opens up a lot of developers to the possibility of pushing the envelope and seeing just how far they can go with Augmented Reality when moving from ARCore to Tango

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