Computer tech company Lenovo is dancing its way into the smartphone market — with Google. Lenovo took the lid off plans for its first consumer mobile device at CES 2016 in Las Vegas this week. The company is developing the device with Project Tango in collaboration with Google. The company plans to roll out the smartphone this summer.
â€œTo break new ground in todayâ€™s hypercompetitive smartphone and tablet industries, we must take innovation risks — itâ€™s the only way to truly change the way people use mobile technology,â€ said Chen Xudong, senior vice president and president of the Mobile Business Group at Lenovo, in a statement.
Who Can Argue?
Few would argue with that premise. The question is can Lenovo innovate or is this just a risky move thatâ€™s bound to fail in a smartphone world dominated by Samsung and Apple?
Xudong said the company can find a niche with Google on its side. He said Lenovo and Google are â€œbreaking down silos by working across mobile hardware and softwareâ€ and added that the companiesâ€™ shared vision will â€œcreate a more holistic product.â€
The question is how. Thereâ€™s nothing particularly unique about the innards of the smartphone itself. A Qualcomm Snapdragon processor powers it, but what is unique is how the processor turns the screen into a â€œmagic windowâ€ that displays information and objects onto the real world for 3-D experiences, according to Lenovo. Google, and Lenovo — aided by Qualcomm Technologies — are working hard to pull off the concept.
Blending Virtual and Real Worlds
Ultimately, though, Project Tango is Googleâ€™s brainchild. Itâ€™s a technology platform that taps into three features to create on-screen 3D experiences: motion tracking, depth sensing and advanced computer vision. The end result is that users can explore the environments around them with the new smartphones.
Project Tango relies on the synergy of hardware and software to make it possible for the smartphone to react to a userâ€™s every movement. That means when they step forward or backward or lean side to side, their phones track and react accordingly.
At its base, the smartphone will blend the virtual world and the real world. Johnny Lee, Project Tango lead at Google, put it this way: â€œThe 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.â€
Building an App Ecosystem
Devices featuring Project Tango can also remember and recognize locations users have visited before, whether public settings or places in the their own homes. Project Tango takes geo-location a step further than GPS, working indoors so users can find their way through shopping malls or even locate specific items in stores.
Using built-in sensors, Project Tango devices can capture the dimensions of any room in 3D, offering measurements that can help users shop for furniture or decorations. Pricing on the device has not been disclosed.
Practical applications come through smartphone apps. App developers can get creative, transforming their homes into game levels or creating “magic windows” into virtual and augmented environments. Google is working hard to get developers on board to build out the Project Tango app ecosystem, offering the possibility of winning funding or having their apps featured on the new Lenovo smartphone.