Lenovo Announces Project Tango-Powered Smartphone

Today at CES 2016, Lenovo teased an upcoming smartphone that will be made in conjunction with Google’s motion-sensing wunderkind; Project Tango. This will be the first Tango-enabled mobile device for consumers and it promises to provide a “magic window” of digital information and objects in the real world. But will it ever make it to Australia?

The as-yet unnamed smartphone will reportedly be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and will be a flagship product for the Project Tango platform. For those who are scratching their heads, Project Tango is a technology platform developed by Google which uses advanced computer vision, depth sensing and motion tracking cameras to create 3D experiences; be it augmented-reality apps or traditional VR gaming. All of the data is pulled in and processed in real-time by two computer vision processors.

The technology is kind of similar to Microsoft’s HoloLens, but much more sophisticated. It essentially works like human eyes: Tango-equipped hardware can detect its position relative to the world around it without using GPS or other external signals. You can read up on what makes the project so special here.

According to Lenovo, its new phone will be able to react to every movement of the user, from stepping forward to leaning from side to side. This will enable app developers to create new gaming experiences, where your home gets transformed into the game world. The platform can also recognise locations it has been in previously without referring to GPS coordinates.

A big advantage here is that it will continue to work anywhere it can see, even if there’s no GPS signal. Lenovo gave the example of being guided through a shopping center straight to the specific item that you’re after.

Lenovo is asking developers to help build the Project Tango app ecosystem in the lead up to the phone’s launch. Interested parties can download the Project Tango Tablet Development Kit and then send their project proposals to Google before February 15, 2016.

Successful applicants will receive undisclosed funding and may see their app appear on Lenovo’s smartphone at launch. (You can bone up on the eligibility requirements and judging criteria here.)

This is all well and good, but what are the chances of the device turning up in Australia? With the exception of a few Motorola handsets, Lenovo currently has no smartphone presence here. We asked Lenovo about Australian availability and have yet to receive a response; rarely a good sign. We’ll be sure to update you as soon as we hear anything official.

Update: Lenovo has since announced that the phone will be available globally from the US summer. It will also be priced below $US500. Hurrah!

Chris Jager traveled to CES 2016 as a guest of Lenovo.

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