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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.

Go deeper

Police officers' immunity from lawsuits is getting a fresh look

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nearly a year after the death of George Floyd, advocates of changes in police practices are launching new moves to limit or eliminate legal liability protections for officers accused of excessive force.

Why it matters: Revising or eliminating qualified immunity — the shield police officers have now — could force officers accused of excessive force to personally face civil penalties in addition to their departments. But such a change could intensify a nationwide police officer shortage, critics say. 

The U.S. coronavirus vaccines aren't all the same

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The U.S. now has three COVID-19 vaccines, and public health officials are quick — and careful — to say there’s no bad option. But their effectiveness, manufacturing and distribution vary.

Why it matters: Any of the authorized vaccines are much better than no vaccine, especially for people at high risk of severe coronavirus infections. But their differences may fuel perceptions of inequity, and raise legitimate questions about the best way to use each one.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The future of workplace benefits

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The pandemic exposed how workplaces across America are inhospitable to parents. But it could also spur companies to make changes.

The big picture: Well over a million parents have left their jobs due to child care responsibilities during the pandemic. Now, companies — large and small — are attempting to reimagine workplace benefits and add flexibility to help those parents come back.

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