A budding Gainesville tech company was unveiled recently as one the collaborators working on Google's Project Tango, which seeks to bring 3D mapping capabilities to mobile phones.
Founded in January 2013, Paracosm is one of several partners -- including universities, researchers and private companies spanning nine countries — recruited by Google for the project.
Paracosm CEO Amir Rubin called the institutions “the best and the brightest” when it comes to 3D technology.
Tango prototypes run on Android phones that users hold up to create a 3D view of whatever space they are in. It could be used to see what furniture works best for a room, finding a specific location beyond just a street address, and helping someone who is visually impaired walk around in a new location.
Paracosm was brought to Google's attention through a researcher that was working with both the Gainesville company and Tango.
Rubin — a 2003 University of Florida electrical and computer engineering graduate who co-founded Paracosm and another Gainesville company, Prioria Robotics — said Paracosm's work with Google began in July 2013 but that the company had to keep it a secret until Google made the project public in late February.
“We had to keep the devices in a safe box in a locked closet in our office,” he said, noting Paracosm's nondisclosure agreement with Google. “And when we had guests in the office, we never talked about it unless they were working on the project.”
Four of Paracosm's 18 full-time employees were tasked to work on Tango and made frequent trips to Google offices in California to work with the company's Advanced Technology and Projects team.
Though Tango is still in development, Paracosm's work is complete.
The technology advanced during that work is now being used in the local company's own research, Rubin said.
There doesn't appear to be a timeline for when Google will make 3D technology available for widespread public use, but the Tango website says 200 prototypes were to be distributed to developers Friday for research in possible applications, games, algorithms and more.
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