Lenovo and Google announced at CES 2016 that the Chinese device maker will manufacture the world's first consumer-ready smartphone that features the 3D augmented reality technology that is Project Tango.
The companies said that the handset will be less than 6.5 inches in size and will sport a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset under the hood. As for the cameras, it will be packed with a depth camera, a fisheye lens and an RGB camera, which will be set vertically to support portrait mode rather than landscape.
"To break new ground in today's hypercompetitive smartphone and tablet industries, we must take innovation risks – it's the only way to truly change the way people use mobile technology," Chen Xudong, president of the Lenovo China Region and senior VP of Lenovo Group, says.
What Can Project Tango Do?
Using a mix of cameras and sensors, Project Tango-enabled devices gather data from the environment to build on-screen 3D objects, where they can take a "quarter million" of 3D measurements per second in real time, according to the Google Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) team.
Lenovo also notes that it can turn a home into a game level of some sort and "create a magic window into virtual and augmented environments."
Why Should You Care?
Project Tango could change the way people perceive and interact with the environment around them.
It doesn't have the limitations compared with GPS, Wi-Fi mapping and Bluetooth beacons, as it can function well indoors. As an example, Lenovo points out that the technology will let users navigate through a shopping mall, including finding a certain item at a store where that information is available.
"Project Tango combines 3D motion tracking with depth sensing to give your mobile device the ability to know where it is and how it moves through space," Lenovo says. "With Project Tango, developers can create applications that explore physical space around the user, including precise navigation without GPS, windows into virtual 3D worlds, measurements of spaces and games that know where they are in the room and what's around them."
Aside from letting users explore physical environments using their devices, the technology platform also lets devices "recognize" any place they've been to before and record the dimensions of rooms, which the company notes as helpful in shopping for furniture or decorations with exact measurements.
"With Project Tango, the smartphone becomes a magic window into the physical world by enabling it to perceive space and motion that goes beyond the boundaries of a touch screen. By working with Lenovo, we'll be able to make Project Tango more accessible to users and developers all over the world to both enjoy and create new experiences that blend the virtual and real world," Johnny Lee, head of the Google ATAP team, says.
Join The Dance
To get a better idea of what the technology is capable of, check out the best apps for Project Tango, which were the winners of Google's contest back in 2015. The list consists of three virtual reality games and one utility app, including WeR Cubed, Ghostly Mansion, InnAR Wars and Phi.3D for Tango.
On that note, Lenovo and Google are encouraging developers to submit app proposals for Project Tango until Feb. 15, 2016, where participants stand to win funding and have their apps become a standard for the smartphone out of the box. To start working on an entry, interested participants can purchase the development kit at the Google Store.
The Project Tango smartphone is scheduled for release in the summer of 2016 with a price tag of $500.
With big players such as Google, Lenovo and Qualcomm working together on a handset, it's pretty much a safe bet to assume a feature-packed and capable device.
If you haven't before, say hello to Project Tango below.