I recently had the honor of joining Lenovo in Barcelona ahead of the Mobile World Congress 2018 for an action packed agenda full of fun. I was blessed with such an experience after being notified of a competition on social media – I never win competitions!! Seriously! But this one asked the question: what excites you about tech in 2018… Well you know me and VRAR so…
It was legit, the real deal and I was off with another lucky 11 to Barcelona! After landing I joined the masses to pick up my Mobile World Congress pass at the airport. Holding it in my fingers was like I had been given a Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket. I was going to see the latest tech at one of Europe’s biggest conferences. First though, I was off to meet Lenovo. The ones who were making everything possible for me. My hosts and sponsors for the entire trip. On entering Hotel Vinnci Bit I was welcomed, given a Lenovo welcome pack and checked in to my room. What a stunning room! It was a proper premium pad. I had landed on my feet here, I thought. In addition to the welcome pack was a mobile phone to be used to capture pictures and videos during the trip – a Moto Z2 Force. I’ll be honest, I was surprised that Motorola were still going… I thought they had their moment and had either been overtaken or worse, just hadn’t made it through the rough financial climate. Well. I. Was. Wrong! This phone has blown me away. I’ll tell you more in a dedicated review blog post (get your questions in via the comments if you would like to know anything specific and I will be sure to include that for you).
Next, it was time to meet my fellow teammates. We had been flown across from various starting positions from across the globe. Miguel Moreno Sanchez, Ismael Pineda Palencia and Ricardo Gonzalez are locals from Spain. Miguel and Ismael are both studying, interested in technology and have strong social media presences. Ricardo works full time within e-commerce and e-servicing at an energy company. He’s also into technology and I enjoyed my chats with him whilst there. Arnaud from France with is famous hat, creative design and tech stories. Oscar Zambotti from Italy, such a cool dude! An actual lucky charm for the group – he won an additional competition during MWC and those who stroked his arm for luck also won!! I’m not joking and yes, I am slightly annoyed I didn’t enter the competitions too. Having recently been promoted and moved home this guy has good fortunes well and truly shining on him. He deserves it too. Tom was my fellow Brit over there – he’s doing extremely well with Tech For Travel brand. Tom blogs and shares cool and interesting tech gadgets that may be of use to you when travelling. He has all the professional gear and is no tech conference newbie like me having been to CES this year too. I can only imagine what that is like. Tom did try to enlighten me but it was all too overwhelming for me – I must have looked like a wide eyed enthusiastic Disney character looking back at him in awe! Thomas is a VR YouTuber from Germany and really knows his stuff. It was fascinating to see him filming his YouTube content, I hadn’t witnessed that before. Thomas made it looks so easy! Anita is a fellow social media guru with Festy in Style and her photos are spectacular! It’s not surprise that hundreds of thousands follow her brand too. Dino travelled the furthest from South Africa and had many stories to share with the group. He works at a VR startup and is having a blast. I didn’t have much interaction with the other 2 from the group so unfortunately unable to introduce them officially or share their stories.
After introductions and lunch we were whisked off for a hands-on VR AR experience where we would learn more about Lenovo’s products. I attended an exclusive products presentation presented by Lenovo’s Vice President for Global Consumer Marketing, Matt Bereda, who explained each of their Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality headsets in detail. I am a huge fan of all these realities and failed to recognise that Lenovo had a foot in each of these spaces. I find that immensely respectable!
Lenovo Explorer – Microsoft partnership: Windows Mixed Reality enables you to transform your everyday laptop or PC into something more memorable and fun! It has over 20,000 Microsoft apps. I tried it out and even though I am a seasoned user of VR headsets, I was unprepared for the scale of height in this as I was on top of a wind turbine in the countryside. It was breath-taking.
Lenovo & Disney’s Jedi Challenges: This was the thing that I was most looking forward to trying out! This uses Augmented Reality which means you can still see your surroundings but have computer generated imaging overlaying your real scenery – similar to Snapchat’s and Facebook’s selfie filters. Except this was waaaaaay cooler than that! With Jedi Challenges you are a Jedi apprentice working your way through the challenges to become a Jedi Master (yes this is a legit title that you can achieve that only approx 30 people in the world have achieved it to date and there isn’t a single one in the UK… yet…). Lenovo has recently made updates to the game so that you are now able to duel 2 Praetorian Guards and oh my goodness it is so much fun! The device includes haptics so that when you clash lightsabers you feel the vibrations in your hand through the controller. In addition you can play Star Wars chess and other bonus games. This product has a 90% consumer rating which is fantastic given that this is version 1 with plenty more promised on their roadmap! I’ll be able to tell you more about those in a future blog, including when I achieve the status of Jedi Master (lol) as Lenovo gifted a Jedi Challenges to me! I’ll be able to share a more detailed review with you soon.
Lenovo’s Mirage Solo Standalone VR headet – Partnership with Google Daydream: This will be released in the UK in the beginning of Q2 and will retail under £400 (TBC). As a standalone it will rival Oculus’ Go and Vive’s Pro/Port headsets and includes the controller. The Mirage Solo is a virtual reality headset so you are completely immersed in the computer graphics that you can see in front of you. The detail is spectacular and uses the Daydream platform for apps and content. You honestly get a real sense of depth with this product. I tested this product by viewing a 360 degree photo which was very crisp and clear. I also tried the Bladerunner VR experience and again the graphics were spectacular, the depth perception was realistic and it encourages real body movement/interaction to get the most from it. Lenovo are also releasing a Mirage Solo camera that you will be able to livestream 4K 180 degree images and video. It’s another smart move that rivals Samsung’s existing setup with the Gear and Gear360 offerings. I currently use both the Gear VR headset and Gear360 so will be keeping a close eye on these two for my future project work. Expect to hear more from me about this over the next few months 😉
Aside from visiting Mobile World Congress (I will share my experience and views in a future blog post) we were given the chance to soak up the tourist sights of the magnificent city of Barcelona. I was taken in by the architecture and signs of culture as we were challenged to find clues across the city for a Star Wars treasure hunt. We had the opportunity to play with a few toys along the way too! What a place for a Jedi Challenges battle!
I had so much fun learning about the various virtual, augmented and mixed reality products from Lenovo. It is not surprise that they have won 78 awards for them already! Plus I’m certain they will add more to that list once the Mirage Solo products are released too. It was a privilege to become more acquainted with their brand, their products and their staff. I have been blown away by their generosity, their quality and the overall ambition that this organisation shows. It’s so freakin exciting and I’m eagerly awaiting to hear more about what’s next on their list!
In summary my perceptions of Lenovo has strengthened and I believe I made a positive impression there too – here I am with their CEO Yang Yuanqing (aka YY).
If you haven’t tried any of the Lenovo products detailed then I recommend that you give them a go to see what you think for yourself. May the force be with you!
Special thanks go out to Lenovo, Lenovo UK & Ireland, Chloe Jones, Stuart Gill, Borja Velon Lepine, Matt Bereda, Simona Stoica, Samuel Vang, Simona Menghini and YY (Yang Yuanqing).