Remember Project Tango, Google’s 3D-sensing smartphones and tablets? It looks like the long awaited consumer version of the handset was just made official.
Lenovo is working with Google to make the first consumer version of a smartphone that uses Project Tango technology, the two companies announced Thursday during CES. The handset will be released during the summer of 2016, Lenovo says.
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Project Tango uses a combination of computer vision and motion sensors to create 3D experiences on smartphones and tablets. In addition to the accelerometer, gyroscope and camera that most smartphones are equipped with, Project Tango devices come with additional sensors that enable them to better track depth and motion.
When these sensors are combined with custom computer vision software, the resulting devices are able to create augmented reality experiences that would not be possible with the typical smartphone or tablet. Games, for instance, can be more immersive while other apps allow you to more accurately visualize digital content overlaid onto your surroundings.
A Project Tango app called Car Visualizer, for example, allows you to use a Project Tango tablet as a “window” to view and interact with a virtual car by moving the device around your surroundings.
Of course, as with any new platform, developers must create apps that are customized to take advantage of Project Tango’s capabilities, even though the devices run Android. There are already more than a dozen Project Tango-ready apps in Google Play, since Google began giving developer kits for Project Tango tablets last year. Google and Lenovo are also launching an app incubator for interested developers to encourage the creation of more apps for the platform ahead of the smartphone’s release.
Details of what the device will look like, how much it will cost or exactly when it will go on sale are not yet clear, though Google showed off some design renderings, pictured above, of what the Android-powered device could look like. Lenovo also revealed the handset will be equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 processor.
Until now, Project Tango, which was first introduced in 2014 by Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, has been limited to research projects, prototypes and developer kits. The summer release of the Lenovo smartphone will mark the first time it will make it into consumer hands.