Lenovo took the wraps off its augmented reality smartphone, demonstrating its unique capabilities on stage at a conference in San Francisco and promising that it will be available in September.
Jeff Meredith, the Morrisville-based executive who spearheaded Lenovo’s work on the first phone to incorporate Google’s much-anticipated Tango technology, drew applause from the audience at Lenovo Tech World when he announced the price tag for the upcoming Phab2 Pro: $499. The conference was streamed live over the Internet.
With its four cameras and specialized software, consumers can use the Phab2 to help navigate through buildings and download digital models of furniture in order to actually see how it looks, and whether it would fit, in an actual room.
Games gain a new dimension – not just 3-D but, as a Google executive demonstrated Thursday, you can set up virtual cascading dominoes that appear on-screen as if they’re tumbling over your actual furniture.
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Lenovo also provided a preview of its Moto Z and Moto Z Force smartphones, which will be available this summer at Verizon stores and will be available in an “unlocked” version that can be used in conjunction with other carriers in the fall.
These phones can be transformed into a projector or a boom box by attaching “Moto Mods” that snap on with magnets; a snap-on Power Pack provides an extra 22 hours of life.
Lenovo didn’t announce prices for the new Moto products.
CEO Yang Yuanqing hailed the phones as “revolutionary.”
Lenovo needs the phones to be a hit with consumers.
The company ranked No. 4 in worldwide smartphone sales last year but fell out of the top five in the first quarter, according to market research firm IDC. Lenovo also is seeking to turn around the money-losing Motorola business, which it acquired from Google in the fall of 2014 for $2.91 billion.
Lenovo is based in China but has a headquarters in Morrisville; it employs about 3,000 workers in the Triangle.
The Tango room-mapping technology in the Phab2 is probably still too abstract to gain mass appeal right away, Ramon Llamas, an analyst with IDC, told the Associated Press.
“For most folks, this is still a couple steps ahead of what they can wrap their brains around, so I think there’s going to be a long gestation period,” Llamas said.
When Lenovo announced in January that it was working with Google on a Tango phone, technology analyst Rob Enderle of The Enderle Group said that the emergence of a “killer app” was needed to broaden its appeal beyond business users.
“We know the market of augmented reality and virtual reality devices is set to explode,” Meredith said. “But we also know for any new technology to (achieve) broadscale adoption, it must become relevant, meaningful, in our everyday lives. We truly believe Tango can achieve this level of relevancy.”