It was my first time attending Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year and I was excited to see all things virtual reality related. I didn’t know what to expect when there nor did I anticipate the sheer size of the conference! It was massive! There were 8 halls in total and I didn’t make it around all of them. You would need to go there for several days to really soak it all up so that’s a friendly tip if you are thinking of going there.
The scale of the place never left you as there were groups of people following signs everywhere. I took some snaps from escalators to show you what it is like from the inside to help you get a feel for the place – and experience the energy that was in there too:
Ok, enough with first impressions… Let’s get right into it – what Alternative Realities (VR/AR/MR) tech did I see there!
Mirage Solo Standalone VR Headset and Mirage Solo Camera – brought to us by Lenovo and Google Daydream. This sleek VR headset is the world’s first standalone headset – meaning that you can still enjoy complete immersive experiences without the need for a high-end computer or compatible mobile phone. The Mirage Solo uses the Daydream platform so you can enjoy the choice of 1000s of VR apps and 360° videos when using this device. Lenovo are accepting pre-orders for this headset now and it will be available from the 11th May 2018. I’m so impressed by this headset and will dedicate a blog post purely to the Mirage Solo soon. Not one to be missed! The Mirage Solo camera is sure to rival the Samsung Gear and Gear360 partnership and add more of consumer choice to the market. Great for content creators or for personal use. I would have liked the opportunity to test the 2 out for myself, however, I was able to view a Mirage Solo photo in the Mirage Solo VR headset and the quality was clear with a great sense of depth perception which is exactly what you are looking for from a still photo in VR. I look forward to testing the duo out and publishing the results – or if you get there first, please report back your thoughts.
The Mirage Solo headset will retail just under €400 and as mentioned an available date of 11th May (in stores) – pre-orders expected to be for 5th May release date (source: theverge.com).
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. If you look in the picture above left you will see a picture of the wind turbine and training exercise.
Disney/Lenovo Jedi Challenges – how could I not stop by and pay this some attention! As a massive Star Wars fan and virtual reality lover this product makes me giddy! Ok, ok, yes I know it’s not virtual reality but come on – look at it! That’s Luke Skywalker’s replica lightsaber, see the detail?! That’s just the presentation on the outside wait until you see what’s on the inside… I’ll show you all soon 🙂
Moving on from Lenovo’s impressive exhibition I was on a quest to find HTC Vive in a galaxy far, far away. Hall! A distant hall far, far, FAR away – why couldn’t all the VR/AR/MR tech be bunched together? Anyway, it wasn’t too bad actually as I discovered a lot of weird and wonderful things along the way – let’s check them out together.
Samsung VR – Actual spacesuit (#awesome) and VR experience of being on the moon (Huawei apparently had something along these lines too but I didn’t come across it), Space Wheel, 4D VR Theatre rollercoaster experience, snowboarding and even a flight on a dinosaur experience!
Robotics VR – This seemed to be using a AR/MR headset to control the robot, I’m not 100% sure about the details. I’m not even sure what company this was. If you have further information then let me know. It seemed pretty cool but there seemed to be a lag between robot movement and user – or it took the user a while to adjust to how to operate before the robot moved. One of the two.
Sony 3D images – 3D avatars that can be used on Facebook but I was obviously pondering how quick and easy their process would be for creating a lifelike VR avatar! Very cool!
EDAG – Driverless Car “Soulmate” and VR experiences – not sure what the VR side of this was but the presentation of the exhibit looked pretty sweet with the car, the Pepper robot keeping us entertained and the big screen to view the road.
SimforHealth – Virtual surgery simulator in VR.
Huawei & Telefonica VR demonstrating a television of the future and the photo in the slideshow is the user being in a football stadium whilst watching the match in VR. It has the added realism as they had to catch a ball at one point in VR and you caught an actual ball in real world too.
SAP – Create your own trainers VR – I was turned away from checking this out as it was closing time. There was a booth full of approx 8 people each with VR headsets on presumably selecting trainers and checking them out on their feet as everyone’s head was hung – either that or it made everybody really sad… I wouldn’t know #closing
(Samsung Gear 4D Experience)
At last I had reached Hall 7 (initiate Darth Maul epic battle music in head) – destination HTC Vive and Vive Port! Soooo much to show and tell you!!!
Hot Air Balloon – A hot air balloon basket rigged to a system to make the ride feel like you were realistically blowing in the wind above the Grand Canyon! The burner controls were in sync to help make it seem more authentic especially when holding on to the edge of the VR basket in the real world too. Very cool!
Table Tennis – special HTC Vive paddle controllers used for this experience again the focus being on authenticity when playing.
Arizona Sunshine – A zombie shooting game that allows for multi-players and choice of weapons (shotgun and/or Uzi). This was interesting to observe from a 3rd party perspective in real-time as they had set up a monitor to how you to view the multi-players in the VR world thanks to the green screen setting.
Football (soccer) game – This was unique as it included sensors in the boots and shinguards for (yet again) an accurate authentic experience.
You can see the theme of their thought around user experience, real-time interaction and connectivity throughout this brand’s products. The HTC Vive Pro looks smart on the outside, is lighter and graphically an upgrade to Vive as expected. Recent news articles have stated that the HTC Vive Pro will be available for shipping on 5th April and will cost $799.
Considering Mobile World Congress 2018 was themed around 5G and connectivity there were a lot of VR, AR and Mixed Reality products and experiences to enjoy. I wanted to share what I could with you and hope I have brought some of the conference to life in the process.
Until next time – adios!