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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

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."

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