Google’s Project Tango is an effort to bring 3D cameras and depth-sensing software to smartphones and cameras. The idea is that you’d be able to map an environment and interact with real-world items on your screen. For example you could scan your living room and see what it would look like with a different paint job or if you moved the couch or TV. Or you could play an augmented reality video game that uses a playground as, well, the ground that you play in.
Google showed off the first prototype nearly 2 years ago, and the company has offered several development devices since then. Today Intel also announced plans to launch its own Project Tango developer phone with an Atom x7 processor and a RealSense camera.
But later this year you may finally be able to buy a Project Tango-capable phone designed for consumers. Lenovo plans to release a Project Tango phone this summer.
The company isn’t showing final designs, revealing final specs, or providing many other details yet. But the phone is said to feature a screen that’s less than 6.5 inches in size and a price that’s under $500.
Still not sure what you’d actually use a device with depth-sensing cameras for? Google and Lenovo are encouraging developers to apply by February 15h to be part of an app incubator program. Google will help with engineering and funding for the selected apps and Lenovo will feature them on the phone.
If all goes according to plan, by the time Lenovo is ready to sell the phone, there should be plenty of apps.
It’ll still probably be a niche device. How often do you need to remodel your home, measure distances, or perform other tricks that the phone is capable of? On the other hand, it could come in handy for professional interior designers or anyone else who answered those questions with “every day.” And if Lenovo can deliver a phone with decent specs and a Project Tango camera system for under $500, it might be the first of many phones that have this sort of camera setup whether you ever use it or not.