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Intel’s Smartphone: RealSense/Project Tango Dev Kit Shipping Q1

At IDF a few months ago, we spent some hands-on time with Intel’s Project Tango smartphone prototype, which had an Intel RealSense camera built in. We liked the concept, and the promise it holds, although the delivery was somewhat lacking.

We hadn’t heard anything else about the prototype until this week at CES. Heading up the stairs to the second floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center, I happened to glance over and spot a sign calling out the Intel RealSense Project Tango camera. I did a double-take; the quasi-booth was all but hidden, stuffed into a corner nearly under the stairs where there was no foot traffic. I checked my watch, calculated that I could still make my next meeting if I was lucky, and ran back down the stairs and around the corner to see if I was imagining things.

Intel RealSense Project Tango smartphone prototype (from IDF)

Indeed I was not (imagining things, that is); there was Intel’s Project Tango smartphone and the same Intel rep, Michael Liu, I had met with at IDF. Liu told me that the dev kit is up for preorder for $399, and it’s going to ship Q1.

The final version has some new guts: It now runs on an Intel Atom x7-Z8700 (Cherry Trail) SoC instead of the Atom x5-Z8500 (Cherry Trail).

Now, we also have full specs:

ModelIntel RealSense Smartphone Developer Kit
Form Factor6” smartphone
CPUIntel Atom x7-Z8700
Dimensions83.9 x 164.8 x 8.9 mm
RGB Cameras-2MP front facing-8MP rear facing
DisplayQHD (2560x1440)
Memory2 GB
Storage64 GB
Wireless Data NetworkBluetooth 4.0, GPS, 802.11 WIFI, and 3G
Peripheral ConnectivityAdjustable-tilt docking device with HDMI out & USB 3.0
OSAndroid
SDK SupportIntel RealSense SDKGoogle Project Tango SDK
Intel RealSense Camera ZR300-Includes RealSense R200-Accelerometer and gyroscope combo-Wide FOV Camera(VGA with >160o FOV)  -VGA@60fps depth camera-High precision IMU-Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, GPS, 802.11 WIFI, and 3G-connectivity

Liu also mentioned a key milestone for the smartphone, which is that it has just received carrier certification. That means it’s cleared FCC regulations. Oddly, as far as I have been told, the Intel smartphone will have just a 3G modem, and Liu would not say which carriers would support it.

There are still a couple of key details unanswered, but Intel is now in the smartphone business with the Intel RealSense Smartphone Developer Kit. The phone will ship in Q1. 

Update, 1/9/16, 2:28pm PT: The original version of the article misstated a key spec. The error has been corrected.

Seth Colaner is the News Director for Tom's Hardware. Follow him on Twitter @SethColaner. Follow us on Facebook, Google+, RSS, Twitter and YouTube.

  • alextheblue
    You say that the R200 camera has been "replaced" by the ZR300, but under the full specs list the ZR300 seems to just be a package name for the various components including the RealSense R200. So not replaced, or typo, or what? Very unclear.

    Anyway I bet that Atom drinks lithium battery sauce like a lush at an open bar. I mean that is the same chipset that is in the Surface 3 (non-Pro). Well, it's just a dev kit I guess.
    Reply
  • scolaner
    You say that the R200 camera has been "replaced" by the ZR300, but under the full specs list the ZR300 seems to just be a package name for the various components including the RealSense R200. So not replaced, or typo, or what? Very unclear.

    You are correct--that point was delivered to me in a confusing way. I figured it out, but I forgot to change it in the body of the text.

    Anyway I bet that Atom drinks lithium battery sauce like a lush at an open bar. I mean that is the same chipset that is in the Surface 3 (non-Pro). Well, it's just a dev kit I guess.

    Lol. Smartphone as lush. :P
    Reply
  • bit_user
    17290434 said:
    Anyway I bet that Atom drinks lithium battery sauce like a lush at an open bar. I mean that is the same chipset that is in the Surface 3 (non-Pro). Well, it's just a dev kit I guess.
    The SDP is 2W. They were probably desperate to pack as much horsepower as possible. It's surely a gating factor, in many AR applications. As you say, battery life should be less critical in a dev kit, but I sure hope they put some decent capacity in there.

    By comparison, Google's 7" Tango tablet had a both a Tegra K1 SoC and a Movidius processor. The CPU was quad-core A15 @ up to 2.3 GHz. I don't know how the K1's GPU compares to the HD Graphics incarnation in that SoC, but I think Intel might be coming up a bit short.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    17288772 said:
    The final version has some new guts: It now runs on an Intel Atom x7-Z8700 (Cherry Trail) SoC instead of the Atom x5-Z8500 (Cherry Trail).
    Indeed, the x7-Z8700 is their only Phone SoC with 16 shader pipelines. I'm guessing 33% more GPU horsepower than the x5 was the driving factor, more than the 7% CPU clock speed advantage.

    I find the screen resolution a bit odd. If the GPU is already taxed by AR, then why add such a high-res screen? 1920x1080 would have been fine. That's what the 7" tablet had, and I didn't feel it was an issue.
    Reply
  • scolaner
    17298083 said:
    17288772 said:
    The final version has some new guts: It now runs on an Intel Atom x7-Z8700 (Cherry Trail) SoC instead of the Atom x5-Z8500 (Cherry Trail).
    Indeed, the x7-Z8700 is their only Phone SoC with 16 shader pipelines. I'm guessing 33% more GPU horsepower than the x5 was the driving factor, more than the 7% CPU clock speed advantage.

    I find the screen resolution a bit odd. If the GPU is already taxed by AR, then why add such a high-res screen? 1920x1080 would have been fine. That's what the 7" tablet had, and I didn't feel it was an issue.

    Have to agree with you on the screen res. Maybe it's my no-longer-young eyes (and nearsightedness), but I don't get 2560x1440 on a small screen. I mean, it looks great, but...to my eyes, only marginally moreso that FHD. And on a device like this with high demands, it seems a waste of resources. But maybe there's something we don't know or understand yet.
    Reply
  • mebalzer
    I look forward to receiving my developer kit to compare it to the NEODiVR solution for the iPhone 6s Plus/Occipital Structure sensor that allows for eAVR (environmental Awareness Virtual Reality) that I have designed the NEODiVR for to allow you walk, sit, crouch, and even lie down in the VR environment. With my new NEODiVR "Lopue" for 5.5" I have also decided to design a version specifically for the Intel and Lenovo Project Tango phones.

    Battery I am not too concerned with since adding a external battery pack is an easy solution. So my concern would be with overheating like the Samsung phones. Something I don't have to worry about with the iPhone.

    Also, UHD or higher screen resolution allows for it to be used as VR device, which is why it was made to be Project Tango compatible with high performance IMU.

    Reply
  • scolaner
    17301945 said:
    I look forward to receiving my developer kit to compare it to the NEODiVR solution for the iPhone 6s Plus/Occipital Structure sensor that allows for eAVR (environmental Awareness Virtual Reality) that I have designed the NEODiVR for to allow you walk, sit, crouch, and even lie down in the VR environment. With my new NEODiVR "Lopue" for 5.5" I have also decided to design a version specifically for the Intel and Lenovo Project Tango phones.

    Battery I am not too concerned with since adding a external battery pack is an easy solution. So my concern would be with overheating like the Samsung phones. Something I don't have to worry about with the iPhone.

    Also, UHD or higher screen resolution allows for it to be used as VR device, which is why it was made to be Project Tango compatible with high performance IMU.


    Hmm, interesting point...maybe they're future-proofing so the phone can maybe be used with a mobile HMD. But as far as anything I've seen or discussed, Project Tango is fundamentally about AR, not VR.
    Reply
  • RedJaron
    Wait a minute here. They finally made a phone with an x86 CPU, and a decent one at that, but then all they did was put Android on it? Surely you can make a phone application for Windows, Linux, or whatever other OS you could run on this.
    Reply