Google taps GW students, professors for 3-D mapping project

The $275 million Science and Engineering Hall will open in January 2015. Hatchet File Photo.
The $275 million Science and Engineering Hall will open in January 2015. Hatchet File Photo.
This post was written by contributing news editor Jacqueline Thomsen.

Google has enlisted GW students and professors to help build a smartphone that can create 3-D maps of indoor spaces like shopping malls and office buildings.

Students and faculty in the School of Engineering and Applied Science are collaborating with the technology giant on Project Tango, which will enhance smartphone sensors to recreate images like the human brain processes them, the Washington Post reported.

GW engineers are trying to teach the phone’s sensors how to understand the images they see in 3-D. The phone would then be able to map out its surroundings, and could help users navigate spaces, for example, by finding the nearest bathroom in a shopping mall.

Google has worked with several technology companies including Bosch and the Open Source Robotics Foundation on the project. The University of Minnesota is the only other school that has partnered with Google for the research, according to the project’s website. Google has not announced a release date for the phone.

GW’s involvement in Project Tango comes as the engineering school looks to grow its research profile and has hired dozens of professors away from top-tier research universities in the past five years.

Officials expect research to continue to grow after students and faculty move into new lab space in the $275 million Science and Engineering Hall next year. The construction project is GW’s most expensive academic investment to date.

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