The phone should be released by summer 2016

3D scanning technology coming to smartphones

Lenovo and Google are collaborating on the first smartphone to use Project Tango, a research initiative that allows devices to create a 3D impression of their surroundings.

Project Tango is a technology platform that Google has been developing for three years. It uses sensors that can detect and track depth and motion to create on-screen 3D visualisations, allowing users to explore their physical environments via their device. This can be used for augmented reality by projecting digital on the phone’s display objects over the real-world surroundings.

Specialised hardware and software combine to let the device react to every movement of the user, when they step forward, backward, or lean from side to side.

The sensors of earlier prototype models performed approximately 250,000 measurements per second, continuously updating information about the device’s position and rotation, which is then processed into a 3D model.

The project's leaders say the technology can be used by app developers for a number of purposes such as transforming a user’s surroundings into a game level, navigating through indoor areas such as shopping centres, and for interior design.

Developers can already submit their ideas and proposals to Project Tango’s ‘growing app ecosystem’.

“To break new ground in today’s hypercompetitive smartphone and tablet industries, we must take innovation risks – it’s the only way to truly change the way people use mobile technology,” said Lenovo’s Chen Xudong.

“Together with Google we’re breaking down silos by working across mobile hardware and software. Turning our shared vision into reality will create a more holistic product experience that captures the imagination of today’s consumer.”

Details about the device are relatively scant so far, although the companies say it will become available this summer, and will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

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