In the scope of our first episode of the Daydream District Interview in 2017, I had the chance to speak with Lisa Zhao, founding member of LYRobotix. The company is exhibiting their Nolo VR tracking system at this year’s CES, promising front-facing room-scale VR with 6-DOF motion tracking for mobile VR systems like Daydream, GearVR or Cardboard at an unbeatable price point of under $100 for early adopters of the upcoming Kickstarter campaign.
The system consists of a tennis ball sized base station, a head-marker that has to be attached to the headset and two motion controllers. LYRobotix has developed their own tracking technology that they call PolarTrack, which works based on a fusion of optics, acoustics and video signals. The base station is sending out signals that are being processed in the controllers, so there is no processing on the base station itself, which will theoretically allow for an unlimited number of motion controllers per base station.
The base station and the controllers have to be charged via micro USB connection and a wall charger with three plugs comes in the Nolo box. On a full charge the base station lasts for 4 hours and each of the controllers will be able to operate for full 7 hours. More than enough for mobile VR sessions according to Lisa.
The exciting value proposition of the Nolo VR system is that everyone with a gaming PC could easily set up a front-facing room-scale VR gaming setup comparable to that of the Oculus Rift or PSVR that will allow them to play any SteamVR games in connection with the Riftcat VRidge application and their mobile phone. In this setup, the Nolo VR controllers are recognized by Steam as the HTC Vive controllers and the VR picture is streamed onto the users Android phone that sits within any Cardboard VR headset, the Google Daydream headset or a GearVR headset.
So instead of having to buy the pricey HTC Vive, gamers could instead opt for the Nolo VR system and still have access to all the SteamVR games. For less than $100. The system is also an interesting option for all those people that already use Riftcat VRidge, since Nolo VR will radically improve the system with front-facing room-scale controls that at the moment can only be emulated by a setup that forces the user to repurpose 3 (!) Playstation Move controllers, one of them having to be attached to the user’s head.
LYRobotix has also developed an SDK that VR developers can use to bake in Nolo VR support directly into their VR apps and games, without having to be connected to a powerful gaming PC and Steam. In this scenario the Daydream, GearVR or Cardboard app would directly support front-facing room-scale experiences on mobile VR systems. The company is already in talks with developers and at launch Nolo will ship with 2 native experiences that will show off this feature.
The company is working on a Kickstarter campaign that will launch at the end of January. Prior to launch up to 100 customers may sign-up to receive another $10 discount on the $99 Kickstarter price if they sign up on the NoloVR website. Nolo VR is in talks with Riftcat VRidge to offer an exciting bundle that will consist of the Nolo hardware, a Riftcat VRidge license and an entry level cardboard headset.
The Nolo VR hardware will ship to Kickstarter backers in May 2017 according to the conservative estimations of the team. Since LYRobotix is based in Beijing with best connections to hardware manufacturers in Shenzhen, Lisa was very confident to be able to stick to this timetable and make sure that the Kickstarter backers will receive their hardware as soon as possible. The regular price after the Kickstarter campaign is over will be $149.
Thanks again to Lisa Zhao from LYRobotix to take the time for this Daydream District Interview that can be watched in its entirety in the above video. We can’t wait to get our hands on Nolo VR!