MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Google wants to make phones and tablets see the way you do — blurring the line between what's real and what's computer-generated.

Its venture into what’s known as augmented reality is set to be one of the major highlights of the company's annual developer conference, Google I/O, which runs here today through Friday.

The featured initiative is Project Tango, which allows mobile devices to understand spatial dimension, depth perception and partake in visual learning to understand the world around them. Such devices could map the interior of a store, for example, and be taught where the merchandise is located. 

The project is one of several initiatives that position Google for a deeper reach into other aspects of life that can be enhanced by data and machine learning.

A Future in Virtual Reality

Not content with the real world, Google wants a big piece of the virtual one. The company is expected to show off an Android VR headset, which would give Google a piece of the booming virtual reality market let by devices like Facebook’s Oculus Rift or the Samsung Galaxy Gear.

Unlike the consumer flop of Google Glass, virtual reality has an actual market and multiple companies vying for attention. Such hardware and native support in Android would enable developers to build their apps to work with this new extension to Google’s operating system.

Pushing Deeper into the Enterprise

There will also be talk about Google Cloud Platform, which is the company’s effort to rival Amazon Web Services, Oracle Cloud, Microsoft Cloud and others in the enterprise space. Google has scored some major wins lately in agreements with Spotify to host the company’s music streaming and from Apple to provide storage for the company’s consumer services.

Even though search is still the major cash cow for Google, desktop searches surrounded by ads won’t be around forever. One area where the company could certainly dominate is with enterprise-grade cloud storage, given that Google conducts nearly all of its work and services in the cloud. Expect to hear about more tools for developers and features for large businesses designed to tempt them with moving their direction.

Android and More

Of course, Google will definitely be talking about Android, which is by far the most dominant mobile operating system worldwide. The Android N developer beta is already available so we probably won’t hear about a ton of new features. Instead, there should be additional details about how developers can better manipulate their apps to take advantage of what’s available in version N and when it may exit beta.

A recent report suggested Google may announce that Android has topped two billion users. The impact is that while in the United States, particularly among higher-end demographics the iPhone remains dominant, those who have a global footprint with their business must consider how their website, mobile app, and other services will perform on Android-powered devices.

Finally, Google just announced a new app called Spaces that seems like it holds a drop of Slack, Google+, and Instagram all in one. It’s rather peculiar, but there have been a few hints about how it can be used for connection to physical web beacons that can interact with one’s smartphone. It’s the kind of futuristic technology that we should see plenty of when exploring the i/O venue at the Shoreline Amphitheatre.

Google will live stream the keynote on May 18 at 10 AM PT for those who want to catch all the announcements.

Title image "Sucker Bouquet" (CC BY-ND 2.0) by RebeccaVC1