Lenovo shows smartphone that lets users interact with projected content

Both products are concept devices

Lenovo's concept for a new smartphone with a projector on top.

Lenovo's concept for a new smartphone with a projector on top.

Smartphones and smartwatches won't just display content, but will also be able to beam it on to tabletops, walls and even to the eye, according to Lenovo.

More remarkably, users will be able to interact with the projected images.

On Thursday, Lenovo unveiled a concept smartphone called "Smart Cast" that's fitted with a laser projector module on top of the device. The feature lets the handset display the phone's content on a hard surface, like a table or wall.

However, the phone isn't just a mobile digital projector. It can also read the gestures of users interacting with the projected images. In a demo, the Chinese company showed off the concept device, by using it to project a virtual piano keyboard on a table. The user could then play a song on the keyboard.

In another demo, the smartphone could also project a sheet of music. With a swipe of the finger on the music sheet, the phone loaded the next page.

This concept can break the constraints of a phone's screen size, said Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing at a company event. To read gestures, the phone uses an infrared camera that can read "clicking, sliding and multi-touch," Lenovo said.

The Chinese vendor isn't just stopping with smartphones. It also showed a smartwatch, called the "Magic View," which has a smaller "virtual interactive display" attached to the main circular screen. The company claimed it to be the world's first dual-screen smartwatch.

"Smartwatches now have a huge flaw. The screens are too small," said Lenovo Chief Technology Officer Peter Hortensius. "Watches are not built for big visuals or immersive experiences."

Rather than display content on tables, or large surfaces, the smartwatch was fitted with the additional display as a way to project content directly to the user for private viewing. However, the experience was really more like peeking into a small keyhole to view an image. When brought close to the face, the smartwatch will display content to the eye.

The virtual image will be twenty times larger than what's shown on the watch face, Hortensius said.

Lenovo gave no indication of when the concept devices might arrive as products.

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