Mantis Vision is best known as one of the companies behind the tech in Google's 3D-mapping Project Tango tablet. Today, it's pushing out an Android tablet of its own, called Aquila.
From the surface, the 1920 x1200 8-inch Aquila tablet, made in partnership with Flextronics, looks a lot like a the Project Tango hardware we saw earlier this year. It's got a 13 megapixel colour camera and a IR camera and IR flash. The data from these cameras, when combined with very detailed motion-sensing data can be used to create extraordinarily detail 3D maps of the world around you in real-time.
But according to Mantis, they're different in important ways. Google's super-powerful tablet was loaded with hardware designed for the very specific of 3D mapping for some very specific use-cases, like capturing a detailed 3D picture of the dimensions of a building in more or less real-time. To do it, Google used some fancy tech like Nvidia's Tegra K processor. By contrast, the the Aquila tablet uses the same Snapdragon 801 processor found in most flagship phones. Rather than close off possibilities to developers, Mantis hopes to leave more options open. Everything from the processor to the cameras are hardware you can buy off the shelf.
To that end Mantis is giving developers very low-level access to the 3D mapping powers with its M4VD camera control SDK, and its M4VD processing engine. The goal is to try to become the open-standard platform developers use to build technology for 3D mapping. Looking forward, the OEM-ready development tablet will be ready by the end of the year. Mantis says there will be consumer ready mobile hardware which uses its technology by the end of the year. By the middle of 2015, Mantis says there will be consumer hardware available that uses its 3D tech.
What exactly is all of this good for? Well, this is where the Mantis developers get heady and start talking about a future where user-generated goes from basic 2D snapshots and videos to immersive 3D worlds. And to be fair, much of what virtual reality concepts like Oculus Rift are missing is really good content, and Mantis' Aquila tablet could realistically help make some—especially if Mantis can build an enthusiastic community of consumers who want to use it.