Google has revealed that is working on a tablet computer with 3-D and motion-sensing capabilities, an effort dubbed Project Tango.
"The goal of Project Tango is to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion," team member Johnny Lee said on Thursday at a website devoted to the endeavour.
"Our team has been working with universities, research labs, and industrial partners spanning nine countries around the world to build on the last decade of research in robotics and computer vision, concentrating that technology into a unique mobile device," he said.
The curtain on the project was pulled back as Google put out word it would soon put prototypes, powered by Nvidia chips, in the hands of developers interested in creating applications that take advantage of innovations built into devices.
The development kits can be used to make "apps" that track full 3-D motion and recognise surfaces of things nearby, according to Google.
The California-based technology titan revealed Project Tango a day after online commerce colossus Amazon.com  put out word of a June 18 mystery event at which founder Jeff Bezos will launch something new.
Online speculation immediately centred on the potential for the Seattle-based firm to unveil a Kindle smartphone, perhaps with 3-D graphics and motion-sensing capabilities.
Amazon invited people to request invitations at website amazon.com/launchevent  and even teased the mysterious event in a video posted at YouTube.
The video, titled "Find out what these Amazon customers are talking about", featured people admiring something they were holding out of sight of the camera.
For months, analysts have speculated about Amazon launching a smartphone that would be a companion to its Kindle tablets, which help keep consumers from leaving the Amazon ecosystem.
Amazon is known for selling its tablets at low profit margins to compete with Google and Apple and to be able to sell digital content including e-books and films.