Lenovo's clever hack to bring VR to every game
The biggest hurdle facing VR right now is a lack of content, and Lenovo has a smart way to fix that.
Lenovo's new Entertainment Hub brings your all television, movies, and games into one easy-to-use app, combining local and streaming media in one place. But that's far from the coolest thing that it does — it mixes for VR for video and games in a quite clever way.
When it comes to watching video, the Lenovo Entertainment Hub puts you into a virtual movie theater. That's not anything different than what both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift have done — you get a perfect seat in the middle of the theater, but with less resolution than you'd get in real life. But it's another way to watch a movie in VR, I guess?
Far more interesting is how Lenovo is adapting VR into non-VR games. Essentially it lets the headset's motion tracking serve as look controls for any first-person game. I donned an HTC Vive and played non-VR game Deus Ex: Human Revolution — Director's Cut (circa 2013) in VR, turning my head to change where I was looking and aiming in the game, and it worked really well.
It's a cleverly basic implementation from Lenovo: the headset just duplicates the up-down left-right axis controls of a controller. Those mapped head movements are sent as commands to the game, and it was perfectly fluid in my brief time in the game (I died rather quickly because I'm bad at these things). Complimenting the headset look controls was Xbox Wireless Controller support from the new Lenovo Legion Y920, enabling in-game controls for everything else from movement to firing to opening doors.
While the demo I tried was with the HTC Vive, Lenovo says this should work with other VR headsets, including Oculus Rift and even Lenovo's own upcoming VR headset. There's still plenty of work to be done to bring Lenovo's vision of full VR support for non-VR games to reality — including working out proper field mapping for warping the image for each individual game, but it's a promising first step in adapting existing game catalogs into VR.
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Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.
There's nothing clever or special about this. Vorpx and Vireo do the same thing only it's already working and available. It's good to know Lenovo is entering VR though.
As you say, this capability already exists, and I'll add that you have not converted a game to VR if you're still using a game pad. In VR conversions, Doom 3 for example, the motion controllers become your weapons. Gamepad "VR" games are just 3D games that you can look around.
This has been around since DK1 days and is fairly problemmatic. VorpX is probably the most advanced, works well on only a handful of games and requires a lot of manual dev effort for each supported game. If Lenovo has a new trick up their sleeve that makes it work better then you haven't indicated that in your article.
Derek, I'm impressed you managed to die within the time for the video to end, that' funny! Not that I'm better though.