At Lenovo's Tech World event today, the company announced the world's first production phone with Google's Tango (née Project Tango) environment-mapping technology on board: the Phab 2 Pro. This enormous phablet has four cameras, but the three on the rear are the most interesting. To power Tango, the Phab 2 Pro has a 16MP RGB camera, a depth-sensing camera, and a motion-tracking camera.
If you're not already familiar with Tango, it's a suite of technologies from Google that can perform motion-tracking, depth perception, and area learning. Using those tools, a Tango device can figure out things about its environment like measuring real sizes of objects and mapping spaces in 3D. Tango can also project objects into the view on its screen like "life-size dinosaurs," to give just one example.
A member of Google's Tango team demonstrated the tech by buillding a map of the stage and overlaying a fantasy environment on that map.
He also measured certain objects on stage in two ways: simple 2D characteristics like the length of a desk, and the 3D volume needed to place another table on stage.
Another demo showed how a Tango phone can generate augmented-reality views of the environment by putting life-size dinosaurs on stage. Yet another AR demo let the presenter place virtual dominoes on the stage, knock them over, and add other triggered events in the domino path.
Lenovo also brought some folks from home-improvement store Lowe's on stage to demonstrate the store's AR shopping app. The Lowe's app can measure a space and overlay elements like flooring on the existing space to let potential remodelers see what their choices will look like. Since Tango knows how large a space is, it can also insert virtual instances of objects like furniture into the space, so homeowners can see just how a particular piece of furniture will fit into a room.
The Phab 2 Pro itself sounds like a pretty nice high-end phone. It's got a 6.4" 2560x1440 IPS display in an aluminum unibody. That huge chassis let Lenovo put a 4,050mAh battery inside, so users can play with the Tango hardware without worrying about running down their devices. The Phab has Dolby Atmos sound output, as well as full Dolby 5.1 audio capture. It has a fingerprint sensor and a "one-handed mode" to make life with that huge screen easier. The Phab 2 Pro will be globally available in September for $499 unlocked.
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