Jun 13, 2016 | By Benedict

Tech giant Lenovo has unveiled its Phab 2 Pro smartphone, the first consumer smartphone to feature Google’s Project Tango 3D scanning technology. The phone uses special software and a set of sensors to map its surroundings in 3D, enabling next-generation augmented reality experiences.

Last week, attendees of Tech World 2016 in San Francisco were given a special treat as Lenovo unveiled its game-changing new smartphone, the Phab 2 Pro. Announced earlier this year at CES 2016, the Phab 2 Pro is promising a new era of augmented reality, thanks to its incorporation of Google’s Project Tango platform. According to its creators, the 6.4” device is far more than just a new smartphone: “Tango enables our devices to sense physical motion and space and, as a result, has the power to change how we interact with our surroundings,” said Johnny Lee, Engineering Director at Google.

The secret to this new era of AR technology is the use of motion detection, depth sensors, and area learning technology, which the Phab 2 Pro uses to sense its surroundings, including doors, windows, objects, and even people. Motion tracking lets the PHAB 2 Pro’s “eye” see its own location in 3D, area learning lets the phone know its location, and depth perception allows it analyze the shape of the world by detecting surfaces and obstacles. This combined functionality enables a whole range of new and unusual AR applications.

Teachers, for example, can use Project Tango’s 3D scanning capabilities to place true-to-size virtual dinosaurs in their classrooms, giving students a sense of perspective and wonder. Special AR games also merge the real and the virtual, enabling players to host a game of dominos on their kitchen table, or raise a virtual pet in their bedroom. Professional applications include futuristic AR museum tours, providing snippets of textual and visual information over real 3D objects using the GuidiGO app.

“Put simply, we wanted to take what was an amazing concept and transform it into a commercially viable mobile device,” said Jeff Meredith, vice president and general manager of Android and Chrome Computing at Lenovo. “From the moment we saw Tango, we knew it could become pervasive, just like GPS. However, to truly make the Phab 2 Pro a game-changer, we developed it at an affordable price for mainstream consumers, delivering not just a bleeding-edge phone, but an all-around fantastic phone that’s first to market.”

Over 100 Tango-ready apps are already available to download from the Google Play store. One of those apps was developed by Lowe’s, the home improvement company, whose Lowe’s Vision app enables users to virtually kit out their home with furniture, appliances, and décor. The app proposes an end to mismatched furniture and endless paint samples, giving homeowners a tool for previewing their potential new lounge before going to the store: “Tango technology will allow customers to see how their home improvement visions translate into reality like never before,” said Richard Maltsbarger, Lowe’s Chief Development Officer.

Besides its new 3D scanning and mapping technology, the Phab 2 Pro also packs some impressive hardware and other useful features. The phone is powered by a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 652 processor, optimized for Tango applications, and features Dolby AudioTM Capture 5.1 with Dolby Atmos® playback capabilities. The Phab 2 boasts two 13MP rear cameras, and allows users to incorporate AR features into its photography app so that users can keep those virtual dinosaurs in their newest Facebook profile picture.

The PHAB 2 PRO will be globally available from September, and will retail for $499. The smartphone will be sold at select US Lowe’s stores by the end of the year. The slimmed-down Phab 2 Plus will cost $299, and the budget Phab 2 just $199.

 

 

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