After a proper teasing of the system at CES in January 2016, Google and Lenovo have launched the first smartphone that enables augmented reality (AR) faming an utilities. The Lenovo Phab 2 Pro come packages with Tango, a new technology from Google that allows you to see objects and information overlaid onto the real world.
In practical terms, you can measure objects with just your phone. Or visualize furniture like a new table or sofa to see how it looks in your home. Or simply play with your virtual pet.
Tango was developed by a team led by computer scientist Johnny Lee, a core contributor to Microsoft’s Kinect. Augmented reality has been prevalent in video game consoles for many years going back to the Sony Playstation 3 Eye camera and Move controller.
Tango is different from video consoles in that it’s designed to run on a standalone mobile phone or tablet and is chiefly concerned with determining the device’s position and orientation within the environment.
The software works by integrating three types of functionality:
- Motion-tracking: using visual features of the environment, in combination with accelerometer and gyroscope data, to closely track the device’s movements in space
- Area learning: storing environment data in a map that can be re-used later, shared with other Tango devices, and enhanced with metadata such as notes, instructions, or points of interest
- Depth perception: detecting distances, sizes, and surfaces in the environment
Several Google Play apps are now available to tap into the power the Tango AR including:
Measure (Google): “Grab a quick measurement using your Tango-enabled phone with the Measure app. Simply point your phone at what you’d like to measure, use the cursor to place the points, and then you will see your measurements displayed in augmented reality.”
Solar Simulator (Angstrom Tech): “Experience the scale of the Solar System and walk among the planets using augmented reality.”
WayfairView (Wayfair, LLC): “WayfairView allows you to check the scale of products, see how items match your current décor, rearrange furniture in your space, and save or share photos.”
Domino World (Schell Games): “Domino World is the evolution of a classic childhood pastime. Create virtual domino courses quickly and easily in the world around you, using an assortment of tiles, props and toys. Watch as the dominoes topple over and restart a new course with a simple click of the button.”