Lenovo announces first Project Tango AR phone for summer 2016

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One of Chinese manufacturer Lenovo’s newest phones is to be the first piece of hardware to contain Project Tango, an Irish-developed augmented reality (AR) software capability, the company revealed at CES 2016.

Becoming the first manufacturer to get its hands on Project Tango is a bit of a coup for Lenovo, with the software expected to be one of the most accessible ways for the average consumer to get their hands on advanced AR capabilities.

Announced in February 2014, Google’s Project Tango was certainly noticed here in Ireland given that one of our own companies, Movidius, was chosen as the manufacturer of the chip packed with 3D sensors that can build a visual map of the environment around it using 3D scanning.

Announcing the news that Lenovo is the first company whose products will contain the chip was the company’s VP Jeff Meredith, who also confirmed that customers can expect to get their hands on the phone sometime in the summer of this year for around the $500 (€460) mark.

Among some of the other details revealed by Lenovo at the announcement was that this phone will have plenty of screen to play with AR tech at 6.5in and will be powered by a Qualcomm processor.

Lenovo Project Tango concept

Lenovo Project Tango phone concept image via Google

Call for Project Tango developers

Google’s developers also released a post on their blog announcing the Lenovo news, however, they also added that the company is now putting out a call for developers to submit gaming and utility apps by 15 February this year to get a chance to be among the ones included on the phone at launch.

“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,” said Google’s lead on the Project Tango project, Johnny Lee. “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.”

It is believed that there are about 5,000 developers worldwide currently developing Project Tango apps, one of which was revealed by Google to be the American store Lowe’s, with an app that would allow someone to point their phone at a point in their kitchen and decide if a fridge would fit there.

Here is a recent video of Project Tango in action as a means of taking measurements in a room using its ability to comprehend distances in 3D environments.

Lenovo sign image via Peter J. Kovacs/Shutterstock

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Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com