Smartphones this year are poised to become more interactive, more fun and maybe a little bit smarter than you’d like them to be.
On the high end, smartphones will get into virtual reality, PC docking and 4K home entertainment. Low-cost phones will offer more bang for the buck with higher-resolution screens, better graphics and faster wireless communications.
Virtual and augmented reality
Smartphones can already be used to roam virtual worlds, such as with the Google Cardboard holder that enables stereoscopic viewing, or connected to a VR headset like Samsung's Gear VR. But the experience will get better this year with Lenovo and Google's Project Tango handset, which will provide a wealth of data on a user's location and objects in view, with information overlaid on the screen. Sensors will be able to measure distances and, like Microsoft's Kinect, track movement and gestures. By mapping surroundings, a smartphone will also be able to direct an employee to a specific meeting room. The companies see the Tango phone being used in engineering and medical applications. For fun, it will let you play augmented reality games with the physical world as the background. The Project Tango smartphone will ship by the middle of this year, and it'll be priced under $650. For developers, Intel will have a Tango-compatible smartphone with software development kits and a 3D camera for $399.
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