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Google debuts standalone VR headset, 180-degree camera

Lenovo's new standalone VR headset and camera, developed with Google
Lenovo's new standalone VR headset and 180-degree camera, developed with Google (Photo: Google)

Google is expanding its Daydream VR effort, adding standalone headsets and 180-degree cameras to the mix, in partnership with Lenovo and other hardware makers.

Why it matters: Despite a lot of hype, virtual reality has yet to break through to the masses. Adding more ways to view content and create content could help break the chicken-and-egg logjam.

  • The Lenovo Mirage Solo headset is similar to Google's Daydream View, but eliminates the need for using your own phone. Standalone mobile VR isn't as capable as PC-based headsets like Oculus Rift or HTC's Vive, but has a few advantages over those that rely on a smartphone, including easier setup and better battery life. It will be available some time in the second quarter.
  • The Lenovo Mirage Camera is one of the first in a series of new 180-degree cameras from Google. The companies hope these cameras help spur the creation of more VR content in a format that is easier to use than 360-degree cameras like Samsung Gear 360 and Ricoh's Theta. Google is also working with others on these types of cameras and pushing a new VR 180 format for the resulting images. It's also coming in Q2.
  • Separately, Lenovo announced a standalone "Smart Display" with the Google Assistant built-in starting at $199 for an 8-inch model and shipping in the second quarter. Think Amazon Echo Show, but with Google's voice assistant rather than Amazon Alexa.