Intel Corporation Quietly Phases Out Its Project Tango Smartphone

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Intel has quietly halted the sale of its RealSense smartphone based on Project Tango. The smartphone hit the market in January for $399 with a software kit that let developers built augmented reality apps using Google’s Project Tango platform and RealSense.

RealSense is very important for Intel

Intel’s RealSense 3D camera technology stole the show at IDF in San Francisco last year. Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich showed off the first prototype smartphone incorporating the technology with drones and robots that used RealSense to “see” the world around them. This placed the chip maker on the leading edge of mobile AR, a technology that is now having its breakout moment because of Pokémon Go.

However, the RealSense smartphone did not last long, and the chip maker has quietly halted the sale of the device, says PC World. This was in line with Intel’s decision to cut development of its Atom processors. Its ambitions to tackle mobile VR and AR will take other forms when RealSense is alive in other devices.

Intel’s developer phone had a 2560×1440 resolution screen, but the best attraction was the RealSense ZR300 system. The system is a bit similar to Microsoft’s Kinect. It can detect hand gestures, map its surroundings in 3D, and recognize objects using its sensors and camera.

RealSense is at the center of Intel’s strategy to make PCs and other devices more interactive. It is still offered in many other products. Next month at its Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, the chip maker is expected to lay out its current VR and AR strategy.

A setback for Google too

Intel’s RealSense smartphone was never anticipated to be sold to the general public. It was just a reference device intended to assist device makers and developers in finding new uses for 3D cameras in handsets. However, it could have aided Intel in playing a stronger role in the emerging market for virtual and augmented reality devices, the report says.

Also this may prove a setback for Google since developers now have one less hardware platform to build on and test Project Tango applications. The search giant offers no smartphone but does offer a tablet development kit for $512.

The Phab 2 Pro by Lenovo, which is due to go on sale later this year, is the first commercial Project Tango smartphone and costs $499. The phablet’s sensors help in measuring short distances and navigate indoors. The phablet, which has a 6.4-inch screen, also plays 3D games in which virtual images are overlaid on the real world.

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