Lenovo’s ThinkReality VRX Enterprise XR Headset Could be a Gamechanger
Lenovo has had a number of VR offerings over the past few years. In 2018, it was the first hardware manufacturer to launch a standalone virtual reality headset with the Mirage Solo alongside the ThinkReality XR platform that targets enterprise users. The XR platform, particularly, has stood the test of time and continues to grow.
There is also the Lenovo ThinkReality A3 AR headset that is also running on the ThinkReality XR platform. Launched last year, it has had some good momentum in the market. Qualcomm even chose it as its default hardware for the Snapdragon Spaces platform and devkit.
Lenovo has had some good traction on the AR front in the past year. However, it has been quite some time since the company refreshed its virtual reality offerings. It is only last week that it finally did so with the Lenovo ThinkReality VRX headset which comes with a number of updates for Lenovo’s enterprise virtual reality features such as the new mixed reality capabilities.
Lenovo’s ThinkReality VRX headset has been built from the ground up for enterprise applications. It has a balanced battery fitted at the back (as a counterweight to its front heaviness) which makes it suited for extended use.
The VRX also has a thinner front end than previous generations of Lenovo headsets. This is made possible by the pancake optics which minimize the headset’s size and weight.
It is fitted with high-resolution passthrough cameras that support mixed reality functions. Many new AR applications will use the mixed reality functions of headsets such as the Lenovo VRX, Meta Quest Pro, or Pico 4 as a starting point before we see a good and affordable AR headset that might see mainstream uptake.
The Lenovo ThinkReality VRX headset also provides support for 6DoF tracking with four world-facing cameras. It can map the area around it to enable users to move freely inside their respective spaces.
The Lenovo ThinkReality VRX also supports 3DoF experiences. This comes in handy in applications with dominant 3DoF experiences such as in 360 videos.
Vishal Shah, the GM of XR and Metaverse at Lenovo describes the device as built to be an “onramp to the Enterprise Metaverse” due to its security features, flexibility, and business-grade quality.
The enterprise VR solution is a powerful productivity tool that can be put to diverse purposes including immersive training and learning to solve skills gaps and labor shortages. It can also be applied in virtual meetings and collaborations in 3D for a hybrid workforce, among other applications.
The ThinkReality VRX headset is based on Qualcomm’s XR platform and should, therefore, be competitive. Performance-wise, it should compare favorably with some of the top standalone VR headsets in the market.
Additionally, the ThinkReality VRX headset also supports PC streaming solutions thereby improving the graphical experience and increasing the headset’s utility. Remote streaming capability is an important feature in standalone virtual reality headsets as there are, obviously, applications capable of running only on PC or which will require a higher performance discrete CPU.
Lenovo has also been collaborating with NVIDIA to integrate CloudXR for cloud-based rendering, enabling application developers to render higher fidelity experiences without having to always rely on PCs.
The last few years have seen Lenovo iterating on its virtual reality and augmented reality headsets and also developing a software and services suite for its target enterprise customers.
Lenovo now considers itself as the only company that can deliver a whole package of XR hardware, support as well as software and services for growing XR solutions at an enterprise scale. Lenovo says its VR solutions also provide the built-in ThinkReality software platform that enables IT and operations to deploy, configure and manage their XR devices at scale. This would also allow enterprises to support their staff with analytics and updates for optimizing performance.
Enterprises fundamentally require manageable hardware and applications that would run in the XR hardware just as they would in a PC or smartphone. This would entail engaging different kinds of MDM solutions and bringing on board the right ISV partners as well as consulting partners to help develop solutions that are tailored to the needs of customers. To this end, Lenovo has shown a lot of flexibility with the platforms that it is supporting. It has also allowed various ecosystem partners to develop using its ThinkReality platform and devices.
Lenovo wants to provide customers with one familiar place for all their XR devices thereby simplifying their XR experiences. The company already has a history of accommodating hardware from other companies on its ThinkReality platform. The company has also entered a partnership with ENGAGE geared at developing a persistent Lenovo presence in the metaverse that will enable users to virtually explore its products and solutions and to also meet and collaborate with customers and partners within the same space.
Lenovo hasn’t provided details such as the headset’s pricing and availability. However, it has opened an early access program that will allow select partners to access the headset by the end of 2022.
The ThinkReality VRX headset’s general availability is scheduled for early 2023. The pricing information will likely be divulged around that time. Given the target market and the ROI that such a headset can yield, pricing is unlikely to be a major concern for the target market as long as it is within reasonable bounds.
It is also likely that the headset will be offered as a service by many of Lenovo’s partners, thereby driving up its uptake.