NASA to Send Google Smartphones to Space

smartphones in space

NASA is sending Google's smartphones to space. The phones are part of Google's Project Tango augmented reality initiative, and have 3D sensing technology that will serve as the eyes and brains of ball-shaped hovering robots on the International Space Station.
NASA decided to use the smartphones in an effort to enhance its Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES, which may end up taking over daily or dangerous tasks for astronauts. NASA originally sent up phones of its own to give SPHERES more sensing and visual capabilities, but wanted to find technology that allowed the robots to move around the station more easily.
Ultimately, NASA found its answer in Google’s smartphones. The Project Tango handsets include a motion-tracking camera and an infrared depth sensor. The sensors will be used to find sharp angles inside the space station and create a 3D map for SPHERES to navigate from one area to another.
The space initiative integrates into Google’s Project Tango. The project aims to create a “human scale understanding of space and motion.” Summed up, this means that Google wants to make 3D maps for people to use on their phone to become more aware of their surroundings. With the maps, you would never again find yourself lost in a new building. Or, you could use it to create an augmented reality in the comfort of your own living room.
The smartphones will be aboard a cargo spacecraft scheduled to launch on July 11, 2014.