In a nutshell: Lenovo has filed a new headset with the FCC. Despite an embarrassing history in VR, Lenovo will be returning to try again in a more mature market. The FCC listing calls the new headset the Lenovo VR 3030S and describes it as standalone, meaning it won’t need to plug into a PC to function. Beyond that, we don’t know anything, but Lenovo’s history in the headset market gives us a few amusing hints.
You might have never seen a Lenovo VR headset, but there have been plenty of them. Two years ago, they released the Mirage Solo (above): the first Google Daydream headset that ended up being the only Google Daydream headset. Google Daydream was an OS and ecosystem, but few apps supported it and Google’s inside-out tracking technology was limited to just one square meter, yikes.
The Mirage Solo was also developed into a smartphone-powered AR platform (below), which you might recognize as the heavily marketed Star Wars lightsaber dueling headset.
Around the same time, Lenovo created the Explorer Windows Mixed Reality headset. Like all the Windows MR headsets, it was good value at $450, while still being technically as capable as a full-blooded Oculus or Vive headset. However, it lacked polish and suffered from poor software support, poor tracking, and poor interface systems.
And then, of course, there’s the Oculus Rift S, one of the better headsets presently available. Lenovo manufactures it on behalf of Oculus and had a hand in the design. But these days, it looks like the Oculus Quest is simply the better choice.
Originally, the Quest was the standalone portable option, while the Rift S was PC-powered. But Oculus Link has come along, which lets you connect the Quest to your PC giving you a similar experience to the Rift S. And soon, the inside-out tracking on the Quest will turn into support for gesture recognition – so you can ditch the controllers.
Lenovo has tried Google’s platform, Microsoft’s platform, and Oculus’ platform. Some attempts have been reasonably successful, but none of them have turned Lenovo into a big name in the VR space. Something tells me that for the 3030S, Lenovo might be looking at Valve's SteamVR.