ASUS announced ZenFone AR, the first smartphone that features advanced mobile virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies in a slim and light design.
The ZenFone AR is Tango-enabled and Daydream-ready, thanks to Google’s close cooperation in its development. Tango is a set of sensors and software by Google that enables augmented reality. It combines motion tracking, depth perception and area learning to map its surroundings and create unique AR user experiences in gaming, utilities and indoor navigation.
Daydream is Google’s platform for high-quality, mobile virtual reality and supports Daydream VE apps. Paired with a headset and controller, the ZenFone AR can place users in virtual worlds or the centre of action in their games.
At a media launch, Dr Eric Leong, principal of The One Academy Penang was invited to demonstrate the phone’s AR features. Interior designers can use the phone to map rooms and place virtual objects in and around the room to show clients how their designs would look. “It also lets us get rid of measuring tapes and avoid getting nasty cuts, once a ‘trademark’ of our profession!” he said.
Award-winning actor-director Pekin Ibrahim shared how the phone’s features enable him to plan storyboards and scout locations quickly and cheaply, using something as simple as Google Maps and StreetView.
At the event, ASUS also showcased the BMW I Visualiser, a car customisation app that lets users preview BMW cars such as the BMW i3 and i8 in augmented reality. Ingress Auto was present to give guests a first-hand feel of its iPerformance cars.
ZenFone AR features a three-camera ASUS Tricam system, which comprises a 23MP PixelMaster 3.0 main camera (it uses Sony’s IMX318 high-resolution sensor), a motion-tracking camera and a depth-sensing camera. This lets the phone track its location through three-dimensional space and determine its distance from objects. The camera array is clustered to reduce their footprint, making the device thinner and lighter.
The phone runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor optimised for Tango and claims to be the first with 8GB of RAM. It has a 5.7-inch WQHD (1440 x 2560) Super AMOLED display and provides high-quality audio with ASUS SonicMaster 3.0 technology – a five-magnet speaker driven by an NXP smart amplifier produces clear expansive sound – while it outputs High-Resolution Audio to compatible devices at 24-bit/192kHz, four times CD-quality. It runs on Android 7.0 Nougat.
All these premium features do not come cheap. Despite the presence of gorgeous cars, brand models and phone, the most jaw-dropping item that caught the media’s breath was the price tag: the suggested retail price is RM3799.