Google launches 3D-scanning smartphone initiative; Himax gains

|By:, SA News Editor

Google (GOOG +0.1%) has launched Project Tango, an initiative that (with the help of 3D sensors and a vision processor) aims to create Android phones that can track motion and create visual maps of a user's surroundings. A developer SDK and prototype phone are being released.

Tango's underlying technology bears a strong resemblance to that found in Microsoft's Kinect sensor, or that developed by Apple-acquired PrimeSense. At the same time, startup Movidius, which is supplying Tango's vision processor, claims 3D-sensing solutions leveraging its chip consume a fraction as much power as alternatives.

Google sees potential applications in 3D scanning, immersive gaming, and indoor navigation, among others. TechCrunch: "The idea here isn’t to create Leap Motion-like, gesture-based interfaces. It’s about ... the apps developers can create when they know exactly where a phone is in space."

Himax (HIMX +3.2%) has moved higher thanks to the news, as investors bet Tango will lead to additional sales for the company's LCOS microdisplays (already powering Glass).