The Lenovo phone will capture Google's dream of a handset that will give users 3D views and data about their surroundings.
Lenovo is engineering and building Google's first Project Tango smartphone—which is slated to give users a wide range of 3D views and data about indoor physical locations, and is expected to be released later this year. The Project Tango smartphone initiative was announced by Johnny Lee, technical project lead for program, in a Jan. 7 post from the CES 2016 event in Las Vegas on the Google Developers Blog. "By adding a few extra sensors and some computer vision software, Project Tango transforms your smartphone into a magic lens that lets you place digital information on your physical world," wrote Lee. No technical details or specifications of the coming smartphones (concept image pictured) were unveiled, but Lee wrote that application developers are being invited to submit their ideas for gaming and utility apps that could be made available for users in the future.
"We'll pick the best ideas and provide funding and engineering support to help bring them to life, as part of the app incubator," Lee wrote. "Even better, the finished apps will be featured on Lenovo's upcoming device." The submission period will remain open through Feb. 15, he wrote. "All you need to do is tell us about your idea and explain how Project Tango technologies will enable new experiences." App developers will be asked to lay out a project schedule for their proposals, including milestones for development; visual mockups such as concept art, smartphone app screenshots and videos; an appropriate narrative; a breakdown of the project team and members; and a one-page biography describing past app portfolio experience and a company profile. Home improvement store chain Lowe's is already working on its own Project Tango app that would let a user point his or her Project Tango-enabled smartphone in their kitchen to see where a new refrigerator or dishwasher might fit virtually, wrote Lee. Another developer, Schell Games, is working on an app that lets users play virtual Jenga on any surface with a group of friends, he wrote. "There are also some amazing featured apps for Project Tango on Google Play," wrote Lee. "You can pick up your own Project Tango Tablet Development Kit here to brainstorm new fun and immersive experiences that use the space around you." The Lenovo smartphone that is being developed for the project will retail for less than $500 and will be available this summer, according to a Jan. 7 article in The Wall Street Journal. Qualcomm will supply the processor chips for the handsets, the article said. Google's Project tango was introduced in February 2014 as an initiative to compress current understandings about robotics and computer vision into a mobile phone, according to a past eWEEK article. The idea of the project is to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion that will allow the devices to provide more data to users than is seen on a touch-screen. Project Tango is designed to capture and track large amounts of data using 3D measurements to help make it possible using extra intelligence.