VR market is moving past the competitive phase and into companies working together for the greater good. Or so it seems.
Sony Interactive Entertainment has agreed a two-year license deal with Lenovo that would see the Chinese multinational use Sony PlayStation VR headset unique design. Lenovo will use the license to base their Mirage solo VR design similar to Sony’s 2016 hit.
‘Lenovo is pleased to partner with Sony.’ Yao Li from Lenovo. ‘This agreement will allow us to work together to greatly enhance the design sophistication and appeal of the rapidly expanding VR field’. The statement from the other side went no less enthusiastic: ‘This agreement with Lenovo is a testament to the quality of PS VR’s design, as well as SIE’s commitment to creating real virtual reality experiences and helping the VR industry expand’, Sony’s CLO Riley Russel words his statement.
But is it all rosy as the statements are trying to get across? ‘The industrial design for PS VR has been widely acclaimed’, says Russel, before adding that it ‘was the result of years of hard work by PlayStation engineers’. Indeed, Sony’s headband design was something to behold and unique on the market before Lenovo Mirage solo VR headset featured virtually the same design a year later. Staying clear from the word ‘copied’, they do look alike, and Lenovo must have been aware of it. It is, ‘an outstanding example of how great consumer brands in the VR industry can work together to benefit the consumer VR market’ Lenovo’s Yao Li punctuates.
To brush in on some background: Sony’s PlayStation VR headset has been lauded for its unique, aural design. The feature that tops over the likes of HTC Vive and Oculus Rift is the headset’s extreme comfort making it the choice for longer VR, especially gaming sessions. But last year’s Google I/O and Lenovo steps in with the Lenovo Mirage Solo VR headset. It was a fairly good addition to Google Virtual Reality lineup, introducing WorldSense on the big consumer stage. Affordable, wireless, Mirage Solo had one flaw: it looked an awful lot like PlayStation VR.
‘The preeminence of the PS VR design is obvious’, says Li in the same statement. PS VR design include a headband coupled with cap-like forehead rest that distribute weight evenly and is very comfortable. Lenovo Mirage solo design include a headband coupled with cap-like forehead rest that… you get the gist. But they are hitting different markets which is probably why Sony agreed on the license deal.
The companies are playing nice though. The official story is that they are jointly working on design improvements. Possibly. We can’t know of any behind-the-scenes details yet, but the license agreement likely includes some monetary or other payout. We don’t know. The only detail is the license duration, two years, which sounds enough for Lenovo Mirage solo design to run its course. After that, it will be interesting to see whether the agreement continues. Who knows, we may be reading it all wrong; we may be even seeing a cross-company VR headset in the future. Who knows.