If you’re waiting on positionally-tracked controllers for Google’s latest entry into the Daydream platform, the standalone 6DOF VR headset Lenovo Mirage Solo, you probably won’t ever see it, at least not from Google.
Google’s annual I/O dev conference was strangely bereft of any big news surrounding Lenovo Mirage Solo, the 6DOF standalone Daydream headset which launched only a few days prior. 6DOF stands for six degrees of freedom, meaning you can physically walk around and play room-scale VR games.
Shipping with a single 3DOF controller (rotation only), we were hoping to hear something about the company’s promising low-cost, inside-out controller tracking at Google I/O, which essentially gives positional tracking to 3DOF controllers using computer vision. Speaking to CNET, Google’s Head of VR & AR Clay Bavor says he isn’t expecting any of the 6DOF controller tech to make it to Mirage Solo.
In an interview with Bavor, CNET asked why there aren’t new controllers yet, or whether they would ever arrive. Here’s Bavor’s response:
“First of all, our focus on the Mirage Solo is really on the visual experience side of it, more focused on consumers and in places, education as well, really emphasizing a great consumption experience as opposed to creation.”
Continuing: “It’s very clear that what’s ahead in VR is richer and richer forms of input, positionally tracked controllers, but we also have our hands, our eyes, using our bodies, all of that is in time going to be part of I think the overall VR experience. Again, VR, [AR], immersive computing all being about vastly richer input and output.”
In a roundabout way, Bavor is saying that Mirage Solo simply isn’t in a position to take advantage of 6DOF controllers, unlike the upcoming Oculus Santa Cruz headset, which features both 6DOF head and controller tracking.
“I wouldn’t expect anything on the Mirage Solo, but directionally, I think that’s where the technology, the industry is going,” he added.
This largely makes sense from a few perspectives—one of the most important being game design. Many of the titles on the Daydream platform were designed for 3DOF input, and wouldn’t really benefit from the inclusion of 6DOF tracking. While the usefulness of 6DOF headset tracking can be still discussed for inherently 3DOF games, it at very least provides a measure of comfort to the overall user, as we make subtle head readjustments even when sitting still. Whether that’s worth the headset’s $400 price, well, that remains to be seen; there are still relatively few games that make good use of the headset’s 6DOF capabilities.
The company’s computer vision-based controller tracking may one day find its way onto future VR headsets, but at least for the meantime, Mirage Solo owners shouldn’t hold their breath.