Lenovo unveils smartphone able to sense surrounding world


Lenovo has unveiled a new smartphone filled with sensors that enable it to scan and map the world around it in real time.

The PHAB2 Pro is powered by technology known as Project Tango, developed by Google and that uses the camera and a set of sensors built into the phone to scan the space around it and build a 3D map of the surroundings.

During the announcement, which took place at Lenovo's Tech World conference in San Francisco, the Chinese firm suggested the technology could be as pivotal as GPS and improve indoor mapping as well as power new augmented and virtual reality experiences.  

Jeff Meredith, vice president and general manager of Android and Chrome computing at Lenovo, said: "Put simply, we wanted to take what was an amazing concept and transform it into a commercially viable mobile device.

"From the moment we saw Tango, we knew it could become pervasive, just like GPS. However, to truly make the PHAB2 Pro a game-changer, we developed it at an affordable price for mainstream consumers, delivering not just a bleeding-edge phone, but an all-around fantastic phone that's first to market."

The PHAB2 Pro uses motion tracking, depth perception and area learning to map environments and sense its own location within them. In total there are four cameras built into the device. 

The phone, which will go on sale in the US first in September for 499 US dollars (£344), can then be used to overlay virtual reality experiences on to the screen that are scaled to the room you are in. 

The technology firm has partnered with American home improvement firm Lowe's to create a new app that will enable users to measure rooms and virtually redecorate using the new phone. 

Lenovo, which owns and operates smartphone maker Motorola, also announced two other smartphones during the event, the PHAB2 Plus, which has dual 13 megapixel rear-facing cameras, and the PHAB2 - designed to be an entry-level device that will cost less than 200 US dollars (£138), but comes with a large 6.4-inch screen.

Actor Ashton Kutcher also appeared on stage to reveal the Moto Z and Moto Z Force, two modular smartphones that come with a series of "magic dots" that enable users to attach extra features, including larger speakers and other modifications to change the phone's performance.