The Development and Prospect of AR Smartphone

In 2015, AR was one of the digital media trends for 2016. In 2016, people are familiar with AR. The technology of AR gradually matures in the various fields. However, in the area of the mobile phone, the AR smartphone is still in the exploratory phase. Based on the Google’s Project Tango, the AR smartphone becomes possible.

Firstly, I will explain what the Project Tango is. Then I will introduce the first Tango-enabled phone, Lenovo’s PHAB2 Pro. However, the time of distribution of Lenovo’s PHAB2 Pro is delayed. I will interview a marketing manager in Lenovo China.

Project Tango

Project Tango is developed by Google. It is a technology platform, which use computer vision to perceive and detect the environment around the smartphones or tablets users. The feature of this technology is that it doesn’t need to base on GPS or signals.

With the GPS or signals, we know where we are in the world. However, it cannot tell us where we are in the room. Project Tango help devices measure the physical space and give you a visible answer about where you are in the chamber.

The application developers can use this platform to design user experiences such as navigation of indoor activities, recognition of environment, space measurement and so on.

This platform makes the Augmented Reality come into utilities. For example, when you shop for a sofa, Tango enables you to see your living room from your devices and makes the various choices of sofa come into visualization.

Lenovo AR smartphone

In January 2016, Google announced it would cooperate with Lenovo to develop an AR smartphone based on Tango platform. At Lenovo Tech World 2016, Lenovo release the world’s first Tango-enabled smartphone, the Phab 2 Pro.

It has a three-camera array, supports AR games and contains AR utilities. Using a depth sensor and motion-tracking, the smartphone can measure and detect the environment around the use, and track where the user is in a room.

The Phab 2 Pro is expected to sale in September this year. The price is $499 USD.

The delay of Lenovo AR smartphone

In the official website, the date of distribution changes from ‘This Summer’ to ‘This Fall.’ The official doesn’t indicate the specific time for its delivery.

Why is it delay? What are the problems it faces? What is the future of AR smartphone? I ask these questions with the manager.

(I post the translating/English version on my blog.)

Interview the marketing manager in Lenovo China.Podcasting: Xiaoli Fan. All rights reserved.

Interview the marketing manager in Lenovo China.The picture: the picture of the Phab 2 Pro. Used with permission.Podcasting: Xiaoli Fan. All rights reserved.

Here is the script.

Q1: What causes the delay of the Phab 2 Pro?

The first reason is that this technology is not mature now. It still needs time to adjust and have a test-run to improve this technology. For example, the demo displayed on the project presentation proved problematic. In the display of a virtual dominos game, the dominos suffered repeated freeze. Also, it will take several attempts to lock on the object to get its dimensions.

As the core component of the Phab 2 Pro, the 3D Image Sensor, developed by Infineon Technologies and pmdtechnologies is a new product. The supply and output of it would be relative low and slow.

These two reasons would be the key factors that contribute to its delay. After solving these problems, it will go on sale. 

Q2: What are the challenges the AR smartphone face?

The key factor for AR smartphone’s success is the utility software. If the third-party applications cannot provide valuable and satisfied user experience, the AR smartphone will end in failure.

Actually, the Phab 2 Pro only has a small number of possibilities such as supporting AR video games, scanning the object and the ability to see and move 3D models of the furniture. In fact, these applications only have small group of consumers. The applications whether attracting the customers will be the key to success.

Q3: what is the prospect for the Phab 2 Pro (the AR smartphone)?

As I have mentioned, the key factor for success is the applications. The development direction is the development of applications. In October, we have held Global Innovation Marathon Development Competition in Shenzhen. Every team should develop an AR or VR application on the Tango Platform.

Anyway, it is an inevitable trend to use the technology of AR in our future life. The exploration of the AR smartphone will continue.

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