With Google’s new Tango project set to launch later this year, phablet fans across the world are rejoicing in the high honor of getting the first glimpse into the future of augmented reality with the release of the 6.4-inch Lenovo Phab 2 Pro.
While AR is nothing new in the grand scheme of things, Google’s work with project Tango is different from other emerging 3D-sensing computer vision products, in that it’s designed to run on a standalone mobile phone or tablet and is focused on determining the device’s position and orientation within its environment.
By using Tango features, the Phab 2 Pro can map out a physical space, track objects, and project virtual effects in a real-world space. These exciting new capabilities are brought to us thanks to three important hardware components:
- Motion Tracking (fisheye) Camera – In addition to gyroscope and accelerometers, Tango uses a fisheye lens to introduce wide-angle visual information of the surrounding environment into motion tracking for more accurate rotation and linear acceleration measurements.
- RGB Camera – The 16MP rear shooter helps the phablet sense what’s around the room.
- IR Emitter – Sends out a depth sensing infrared grid to measure distance via time of flight.
Under the hood, the array of cameras and sensors are powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 chipset, coupled with 4GB of RAM. On its face, the Lenovo Phab 2 sports a 6.4-inch QHD IPS display, with the entire package being fueled by a 4050mAh battery that’s promised to deliver 15-hours of juice in between charges.
In the audio department, the Phab 2 boasts Dolby Atmos speakers for playback and is capable of 3D true-to-life audio recording, thanks to Dolby Audio 5.1 Capture technology. All of the internals are wrapped in a metal unibody that is available in both champagne gold and gunmetal grey.
As the recent Pokémon Go madness has demonstrated, Augmented reality is the next big thing, and it’s expected to transcend well past mobile gaming. Tango demonstrations by Lenovo and Google at CES 2015 have shown how the technology can be used to navigate building interiors and provide contextual information based whatever it is looking at.
With the ability to map the space around it, Tango offers an unlimited AR experience that retailers are hoping will transform the shopping experience. Home Improvement giant Lowe’s, for example, uses Tango’s sensors in their new Lowe’s Vision app to tell a shopper whether an item they hope to buy will actually fits or even looks good in their space.
Google already maps the world and now the internet giant wants to use Tango to digitally map the interiors of buildings in 3D. Soon, navigating a shopping mall or locating your favorite barbecue sauce in a new store could be possible on your phablet.
As it is, the Tango technology is still in infancy and will undoubtedly have its glitches but it’s truly phenomenal how 3D mapping is now available on a consumer ready device. The Lenovo Phab 2 Pro will be available through Best Buy and Lowe’s in the U.S. this month for $499.
Of the three phones in the range, only the Pro model offers Google’s 3D-mapping Project Tango camera. Other devices in the Phab 2 line up include the Plus ($299) and base model ($199).