In February Lenovo invited me to join them at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to preview a range of their new products for 2018. I went with expectations of getting some hands on time with the latest ThinkPad X1 Carbon, the Yoga range 2-in-1 convertibles and the very impressive Miix 630! Yet it was something else that not only caught my attention, but my imagination. The Mirage Camera.
Is This The Future of Travel Photography?
Before I begin, I should point out I’m not claiming this will replace DSLRs or even our smart phone cameras. I already champion products such as iOgrapher, Rode Mics and Lume Cube; all of which are devices that can hugely improve your smart phone photography/videography for a relatively cheap price! And I know the vast majority of those wanderlust images we all see on Instagram are from, mostly expensive DSLRs and a bit of editing.
With that said, after a walk through and presentation on the Mirage Solo & Camera from Matt Bereda, Marketing Leader for Lenovo; the potential for travellers to tell their story was clear! Devices like the Mirage Solo and Camera could revolutionise travel photography.
Lenovo Mirage Solo Headset
The Mirage Solo is a new era of virtual reality (VR) headsets! Without the need for a powerful PC or your smart phone, the Solo can deliver a VR experience all on its own. It is also built on the Google Daydream VR Platform that was initially designed for Android devices, with Lenovo moving it over to a real stand alone headset! Finally, there is also Google WorldSense technology that enables you to move around in the virtual world you are viewing.
Lenovo Mirage Camera
But the headset is just a means by which you can now deliver and share your travel footage. The device that really can change how we share our travel adventures is the Mirage camera.
Lenovo has developed the Mirage camera to capture a 180° Field of view, which means when viewing an image or video via the headset, or even on YouTube, you can move from side to side and ‘look around’. This does differ to the 360° cameras that can have a full ‘any angle’ view, but you do end up missing whatever is directly behind you at any given moment!
The device is smaller than some standard point & shoot cameras and has some very modern-day specs.
- Dual 13MP lens System for 180° View
- Dimensions – 55 x 105 x 22mm
- Capture 3D Video in 4k
- Weight – 139g
- 16GB Internal Storage
- Expandable Micro SD slot up to 128GB
- Removable/swappable Battery
- WiFi/Bluetooth Connectivity
- Up to 2 Hours use per Full Charge
- Unlimited Google Photo Storage for Images
The biggest omission though is a viewfinder. Thanks to the two 13MP lens 180° view, they capture everything in front, and to the side, of them. I struggled with this at first but after a few test shots you realise there is no need to worry about not capturing what you want!
So How Could it Transform Travel Photography?
I agree, the best camera will always be the one that’s with you. For nearly all of us that is most often our smart phone, for many it will be a cherished, and well maintained, DSLR. But the Mirage Camera brings your images and videos to life!
With or without the headset, anyone can view and look around your photographs or videos. A sample video on YouTube, from early adopter Chris Davies, gives a great demonstration on how it works.
When watching the video on a laptop just click and drag to move the view around. If you are on a smart phone or tablet you can either move the view with a finger drag or just move your device around. It’s that easy! On the headset you would look around normally, as if you were there in the countryside.
A standard photograph shows you what the photographer wants you to see, the VR180° view pulls you into it and lets the viewer decide what they are looking at! The feeling of depth and detail I experienced during the demonstrations were brilliant, and if it can impress that much on a display stand during a conference; what could it deliver in the real world?
If you are heading off on a trip of a lifetime, or maybe a gap year of travel before University, the Lenovo Mirage Camera could help your friends and family join you! Imagine a drive up the Las Vegas Strip at night, or entering an Ice Cave on a glacier in Iceland? Taking a hike through the Canadian wilderness,Skydiving in Dubai and an African Safari. All can be captured and shared via Google Photos and/or YouTube by anyone you wish to share it with.
If an elderly relative, who may have travelled extensively in their early years, and is now housebound, could again see and experience places they once visited with the use of the headset while you are away travelling and able to capturing those very same destinations!
Rather than have people sit through hundreds of photographs from your travels, now you can invite them in to experience them as you did!
Of course the Lenovo Mirage Headset and Camera can do so much more than just capture our travels. I was fortunate enough to meet and discuss the future of VR/AR in general with the likes of Thomas from Voodoo DE and Suzanne at Pivotal Reality during the Lenovo event.
After very successful showings at both #CES2018 and #MWC2018, Lenovo have now confirmed the price and released them for sale in select markets.
The Mirage Camera is $299 and the Solo Headset is $399. Both are currently showing a 4-5 week delivery time on orders.
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