By Harro Ten Wolde
BARCELONA (Reuters) - China's Lenovo Group is ready to break into mature markets this summer with the launch of its new smartphone which sports 'augmented reality' features developed under Google's Tango project, its chief executive said on Tuesday.
The device, which was announced at the 2016 CES consumer electronics show in Las Vegas in January, will launch in July, Chief Executive Yang Yuanqing said in an interview at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Declining to give additional information he said that the phone will include Google's Project Tango technology and more.
Project Tango combines 3D motion tracking with depth sensors to give a mobile device the ability to know where it is and how it moves through an area, creating the potential to use augmented reality features on the phone.
Augmented reality software then overlays text or graphics on the real-life image. It differs from virtual reality, which seeks to simulate real-world views.
The phone should boost Lenovo's presence in mature markets such as North America, where the smartphone market shrunk slightly last year, by 0.4 percent, according to data from research firm Canalys.
"If you want to access the mature markets you need two things: innovative products and a premium brand," Yuanqing said.
"So far we haven't done very well on both things. But with a couple of years of preparation, I think now we are ready to attack that market this year."
Lenovo bought Motorola Mobility from Google for $2.9 billion more than a year ago, positioning it as the world's fourth-largest smartphone maker behind, Huawei [HWT.UL], Apple and Samsung Electronics, according to Gartner.
Western markets make a tiny contribution to Lenovo's sales, excluding Motorola, accounting for just 0.3 percent of its total in 2015, according to research group IDC. In contrast, 35 percent of Motorola phones went to Western Europe and North America.
Yuanqing expects the new device to boost overseas sales and will also have a positive impact on China.
"We want to break into the mature markets this year. You definitely can expect that," Yuanqing said.
(Additional reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Greg Mahlich)