Lenovo’s first Tech World conference, held in Beijing this week, was talked up “as a celebration of innovation”, by CEO Yang Yuanqing after the company took the wraps off a number of new research projects.
The most notable advances included demos of a new dual screen smartwatch, a smartphone inbuilt with laser projection and gesture control, and the next potential breakthrough in wearables; a pair of trainers dubbed Smart Shoes.
Yuanqing outlined five developing themes for the industry that he believes will change the way people use technology. And the company’s portfolio of upcoming research projects are designed to complement more innovative ways for people to connect with devices and leverage smart connectivity.
During the event, the company also released a slew of new hardware products and IoT devices based on smart home connectivity. And announced strategic collaborations with Baidu on AI research and a software agreement with Intel. In addition, Lenovo is working with Microsoft on the development of a digital assistant for Windows 10 PCs.
Most of the headlines were however reserved for research projects and technology concepts that Lenovo says “demonstrate innovative thinking today and holds the promise changing the face of technology tomorrow”.
Magic View smart watch
First on show was Lenovo’s take on the smartwatch. The company claims its Magic View is the first example of such a device that comes equipped with two screens. The concept will be “the first step in the journey to transform wearables”, according to Yuanqing, who says Lenovo has found a way to overcome the size limitations of a watch and accommodate more than just general updates on the display.
Found on the side of the strap, the smartwatch’s second virtual interactive display uses an optical reflection so users can see an image that is up to 20 times larger than the actual watch. Consumers have the ability to look at images and view messages privately through a viewfinder. The larger screen also allows users to follow maps or even watch videos, providing an immersive experience through the bigger display.
It works by a user lifting up the watch face, and when shifting the watch from side to side like a periscope, it creates a 3D-type image.
“The second screen brings virtual reality to the world of smartphones,” added Yuanqing.
Lenovo confirmed it is working with a range of technical partners to develop the watch, as well as designing a silicon chip to miniaturise components without impacting performance.
Lenovo’s Smart Shoes idea could be the latest innovation in wearable health technology. The concept is based on a pair of trainers that have built in screens, designed to reflect the wearer’s mood while tracking and analysing fitness data.
This could be anything from heartbeats and calorie consumption, but unlike a wristband, the trainers can also provide runners or walkers with maps and directions on where to go.
The company said Smart Shoes is part of its overall IoT strategy, which aims to leverage the cloud with hardware, software and applications in a new way.
Smart Cast smartphone
One of the biggest gripes about using a smartphone has traditionally been around the difficulties people face in typing out text. Lenovo’s Smart Cast concept of the smartphone aims to make it much easier for users to interact with their device.
The phone comes with a built in laser projector, which can be used to show a virtual keyboard or, indeed, anything that is on a smartphone display. This is then projected on to walls or tables, allowing users to tap the interactive screen via an infrared motion detector.
The projector, measured at 34mm by 26mm by 5mm, can also be used to beam images, videos, video games and even films on to surfaces. While the innovation may sound like a traditional projector for a smartphone, it actually works as a double screen, allowing users to view other content on their actual smartphone displays.
The Smart Cast smartphone and the Magic View watch will soon be available for user trials, with a view of bringing them to market in the future. The future for Smart Shoes remains unclear.