For more than two years, consumer virtual reality has been in 1.0 mode. The first generation of VR devices needed to be linked to either an external PC or a smartphone from the likes of Facebook-owned Oculus, HTC, Google, Sony, and a few others. But this year, we’ll see the beginnings of VR 2.0: Stand-alone headsets.
Today, Google and Lenovo pulled back the wraps on their entrant into the stand-alone VR world, the Mirage Solo, a device that has all its computing onboard, and which is capable of positional tracking with no external sensors.
Stand-alone VR is one of the innovations that could help virtual reality become a truly mainstream technology given that it does away with all the cables and wires that weigh down the user experience on systems like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. Although analysts predict that VR will be a $38 billion industry by 2026, it has been slow to gain traction with consumers. And while things like lower hardware prices, more and better content, and improved social experiences will help, innovations in the hardware, like the release of stand-alone headsets, is likely to be a major boon for the industry.
Lenovo’s Mirage Solo incorporates Google’s Daydream VR platform, meaning it joins an ecosystem that currently includes 15 Daydream-compatible smartphones. But while Daydream to date has offered a 1.0 VR experience that’s far less capable than higher-end (and more expensive) devices like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, the Mirage Solo vaults Google’s platform into the so-called “six degrees of freedom,” or 6DOF, arena. That means that rather than simply being in the center…