New Google Headset, Camera Aim to Spread VR Beyond Gaming


One additional dynamic that Google did not expect when it announced stand-alone headset technology at I/O a year ago was that its only manufacturing partner on WorldSense-compatible systems would be Lenovo.

For the longest time, the two main arguments for virtual reality (VR) headsets was either that it was smartphone-powered, or tethered to a powerful computing device for better graphics.

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You can upload footage directly to YouTube VR using the camera's built-in Wi-Fi and even pair it to your smartphone and turn your phone screen into a viewfinder. However, the Rift now sells for $399, and the Vive for $599, so it's not clear if the Mirage Solo will be able to match either of those prices. While phone-based headsets have more freedom of movement, they are limited to what the phone's motion and gyro sensors are able to detect. Until we get a real VR app or game that grabs the attention of mainstream consumers, VR won't move the needle much for Lenovo or Google. The display is a 5.5-inch 75Hz 1440p LCD with a 110-degree field of view, and the device contains a 4,000mAh battery. Either way, such headsets are beholden to another device running the show, which also prevents users from accessing said devices normally.

Lenovo plans to ship both the Mirage Solo with Daydream and the Mirage Camera with Daydream in Q2 2018. That also touches on the problem with tracking.

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The headset is quite comfortable, although it's bulky; comfort comes from the big brace that goes over your head. They're also much more of a pain to orchestrate, as you need to figure out where to put yourself in the frame. The camera can capture still photos, which you can store and share on the Google Photos cloud service. Lenovo meanwhile promised to introduce "an impressivesuite of apps that showcase the expanded Daydream ecosystem closer to the headset's availability". The latter example is no coincidence: Google and Lenovo tapped Alcon Media Group to release the a VR game called Blade Runner: Revelations.

Virtual reality devices are still mostly purchased by a niche market: gamers. Users will search for evidence with the help of their flying spinner, deadly blaster, and esper image reconstruction to try to solve the mystery in an immersive VR environment. The Mirage Solo will include its own 3DOF Daydream controller, and has Dual 6DOF tracking cameras, and a QuadHD display - which should give you wonderful VR imagery.

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