We’ll admit, the tech scene had been a little bit of a bore before VR started making things interesting this year. We’ve been seeing a lot of slow and steady improvements across most device categories, and while we expect that from mature markets, it’s a lot less fun to write and read about. Fortunately, Lenovo had some fresh ideas at their Lenovo Tech World event last week in San Francisco, giving us a more refined take on the present and some tantalizing looks at the future.
Moto Z and Moto Z Force
When their least groundbreaking moment is still something that manages to make waves in the smartphone market, you know Lenovo had a good day. At Tech World, they unveiled a brand new line of Moto phones called the Moto Z. The briefly hyped spiritual successor to the classic RAZR turned out to be an ultra-thin phone with some powerful modular accessories. With sleek, form-fitting back shells that can add a more powerful speaker system, extra battery power, or even a projector, Lenovo did the modular accessory thing better than LG while crafting a flagship phone that can stand up to any other on the market, accessories or no. And, let’s not forget the cherry on top for the Moto Z Force — that ShatterShield display that can survive more than a meetings with pavement.
PHAB2 Pro with Tango
Speaking of hyped up devices, we’d been hearing about a smartphone Google and Lenovo had been working on together since CES, when the two companies talked up Project Tango. Tango is Google’s augmented reality initiative, a combination of sensors and software that make smartphones far more capable. The PHAB2 Pro can use Tango technology to take the measurements of a table simply by you pointing the phone’s camera at it. Want to know what a wall would look like with a new paint job? There’s a special Lowe’s app that will help you do that by showing you the results on the PHAB2 Pro’s display. We’re still not sure if it’ll be a hit with consumers, but we wouldn’t be surprised at all if the PHAB2 Pro was found in a lot of contractors’ tool belts soon.
CPlus Concept Smartphone
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Lenovo teased us with some technology we’ve been hearing about for a long time, but have rarely seen in reality. The CPlus concept is an example of the fabled folding phone — one you can put around your wrist like a snap bracelet, while still being able to use it. Lenovo only gave everyone a brief glimpse of the phone, which isn’t ready for release yet, but we can speculate. We’re guessing the CPlus uses a bendable OLED display, and we know that the exterior has multiple hinges that let the phone bend almost into a circle. Less clear is how Lenovo has managed to place components like the processor, memory, and especially the battery. Those challenges might be why the phone isn’t ready yet.
Folio Concept Tablet
I guess Lenovo figured they’d see how far they could take this bending thing. On top of their CPlus concept, they showed off a concept tablet with a single hinge in the middle. Fold it at the hinge, and you get a phablet that you can use as a phone. One side of the tablet has a front facing camera that can be used when it’s folded into phablet mode. It looks like the half of the display folded away from you turns off automatically, with the screen converting from a tablet interface to a smartphone interface automatically. Probably a good thing — it’ll save battery, and I really don’t think anyone needs a dual-display phone. Like the CPlus, it’s anyone’s guess as to when or if the Folio will ever be ready for a consumer release.
$1,000,000 Moto Mods Development Prize
Lenovo is very proud of their Moto Mods accessories for the Moto Z, and they’d like to see third party developers create some awesome accessories using the Moto Mods platform, too. But, Moto Mods are brand new, and it can be hard to ask developers to put in a lot of work into a new platform with uncertain rewards. So, Lenovo’s sweetening the pot with a $1,000,000 prize promised to the creators of the best Moto Mod submitted by March of next year. We’ve seen a lot of ambitious platforms fizzle out for lack of developer support over the years, so here’s hoping this competition gets Moto Mods off to a fast start.
— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) June 9, 2016
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