CES 2016: Lenovo to launch Project Tango-based smartphone in mid-year

Lenovo has partnered with Google to develop a smartphone that uses the search giant's sensory awareness technology platform, Project Tango.

Lenovo is set to be the first manufacturer to market with a smartphone using Project Tango during the middle of this year.


Details on the as-yet-unnamed handset are incomplete, but Lenovo said at a press event during CES that the phone would be no larger than a 6.5-inch handset, cost under $500, and use a Qualcomm processor.

The sensor and cameras needed for Project Tango to work will be placed vertically in the top third of the back of the phone.

Announced in February 2014 by Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group, Project Tango was designed to track the 3D motion of the device, while at the same time creating a map of the surrounding environment.

Google kept a firm hold of the ATAP group when it sold Motorola to Lenovo for $2.9 billion in 2014.

"With Project Tango, the 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," said Johnny Lee, Project Tango Lead at Google.

"By working with Lenovo, we'll be able to make Project Tango more accessible to users and developers all over the world to both enjoy and create new experiences that blends the virtual and real world."

The search giant had previously sold Project Tango developer tablets that ran on Android and used an Nvidia Tegra K1 processor, 4 GB of memory and 128 GB of storage capacity. Along with standard mobile sensors such as a gyroscope and accelerometer, the device also used a motion tracking camera and infrared sensor.

At the same time as announcing the upcoming device, Google and Lenovo have launched an app incubator program, where developers can submit app ideas that use Tango, and selected apps will be funded, pre-installed, and featured on the device.

Submissions for the app incubator close on February 15.

Earlier on Thursday at CES, Lenovo COO Rick Osterloh revealed that the company would be phasing out the Motorola brand name in favour of a Moto by Lenovo moniker.

Dillon Ye, Lenovo Asia-Pacific Mobile Business vice president told ZDNet the change will allow Lenovo to move its brand name into premium smartphones, where previously it had focused on the lower end of the market and in developing nations.

"That is something we want to change," Ye said. "Moto will be the sub-brand to focus on the mainstream and performance side, and Vibe will be the sub-brand to focus on entry and mainstream."

The upcoming Tango handset will be a Lenovo-branded device.

Disclosure: Chris Duckett travelled to CES as a guest of Lenovo.


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