For all of its promise and potential Virtual reality is still struggling to find its groove with consumers. A new headset from Google and Lenovo could be the turning point.
Early headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are time-consuming to set up and must be attached to a powerful (and pricey) computer in order to work.
However, Lenovo’s new Mirage Solo VR headset operates entirely on its own without a computer or smartphone. Instead, all of the necessary technology is built into the headset itself, making it far more independent than rival devices.
Lenovo unveiled the new standalone VR headset yesterday at CES 2018.
According to Lenovo, the device doesn’t have a final price but says it will cost less than $400 and will ship in the second quarter of this year.
The Mirage Solo will pack:
- A Qualcomm 835 chipset, 4GB of RAM
- 64 gigs of onboard memory
- Dual Mics
- Headphone jack
- 2560 x 1440 LCD screen
- 7 hours battery life
The standalone VR headset will also have a “casting” option so users can stream what they are seeing to a TV. The graphics are expected to be significantly sharper on the Mirage Solo because the device is not using a smartphone screen.
The Mirage Solo will run on Daydream, Google’s virtual reality platform. This means the device will have access to more than 250 apps available on the platform, and more on the way including the just-announced Blade Runner.
But perhaps its biggest feature is the utilization of Google’s inside-out positional tracking technology WorldSense.
The Mirage Solo is now the lone WorldSense headset in existence.
HTC had initially signed on to launch a headset based on the Google platform, but pulled out and chose instead to partner with Qualcomm to release their $600 Vive Focus headset exclusively in China.
The incorporation of Google’s WorldSense technology, which tracks movement without the need for extra external sensors, sets the Mirage Solo apart from the Facebooks Oculus Go headset, which also doesn’t require a computer or smartphone to work.
The screen and computing power is packed into the goggles itself and uses advanced tracking features that detect where users are and provide six degrees of freedom. Therefore, users can move around somewhat freely in their virtual environment and can interact with digital elements therein without getting tangled.
The Oculus Go and smartphone-based VR systems like the Gear VR don’t track body movement in physical space so they aren’t able to provide this level of freedom.
The objects in Mirage Solo’s virtual world will stay fixed in their proper places thanks to its built-in sensors while other VR headsets require external sensors to be placed around a room in order to accomplish this.
The standalone VR headset is said to be comfortable to wear, easy to adjust and is lightweight enough to wear while standing or sitting.
It will have meaningful competition from Facebook’s Oculus Go, which, at $199, comes at a more affordable price but lacks the Mirage Solo’s positional tracking and powerful internals. The Mirage Solo provides a middle ground between the Oculus Go and premium VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
Standalone headsets are a relatively new category of VR hardware and the Mirage Solo is poised take the early lead.