Lyrobotix recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for an affordable VR motion controller system called NOLO. Initially, Lyrobotix advertised NOLO as a solution for mobile VR HMDs, but following feedback from backers, the company is looking towards the underserved desktop VR market.
Lyrobotix designed the NOLO motion controllers for mobile VR devices such as Google Cardboard, Google Daydream View, Samsung Gear VR (and others), but mobile VR HMDs aren’t the only headsets that would benefit from a third-party motion controller system. There are several desktop VR HMDs on the market that don’t have a motion controller option yet.
Lyrobotix isn’t having trouble pre-selling the NOLO controllers on Kickstarter, but that hasn’t deterred it from exploring other options. The NOLO Kickstarter campaign reached its $50,000 goal within hours of its launch (it was funded before we heard about the controllers), and it has since amassed four times its funding goal. Some of the campaign's backers and would-be backers expressed interest in using the controllers with desktop VR systems.
Lyrobotix’s research team took on the challenge, and the company is making progress to that end. The NOLO VR controllers now support the PiMAX VR 4K headset, which launched in China last year. The PiMAX VR 4K headset offers a high-resolution display and supports Valve’s Open VR platform. Pimax doesn’t offer a controller option, though, which prevents you from using the headset for standing VR games. NOLO controllers would open up a wide range of content for PiMAX 4K owners.
Currently, PiMAX 4K is the only desktop VR headset that works with NOLO controllers, but Lyrobotix said the NOLO controllers would soon support OSVR HMDs, which is excellent news for the open source VR platform. Last September, Razer revealed that The Brookhaven Experiment from Phosphor Games would be one of the first 15 games to receive funding from the OSVR Developer Fund and join the OSVR ecosystem, but despite wins like those, the lack of a motion controller was a liability for the platform.
Lyrobotix is even working on support for Oculus Rift. The Oculus Touch controllers are an optional upgrade for Rift owners, but they are expensive. The NOLO controllers are less than half the price of a pair of Touch controllers, which could be a compelling choice for VR gamers with budget constraints.
Lyrobotix expanded on the idea of supporting desktop VR by looking towards untethered VR systems. Lyrobotix didn’t discuss which headsets it's considering, but the company said it's “exploring the compatibility of some all-in-one standalone headsets.” (Qualcomm wouldn't be a bad partner in that regard.) And now that the NOLO Kickstarter campaign reached the $200,000 stretch goal, Lyrobotix will pursue wireless Steam VR gaming on smartphone devices.
The NOLO Kickstarter campaign has 15 more days left to go, so there’s plenty of time for you to pick up one of the $109 NOLO controller sets, and for Lyrobotix to add even more features to them.
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Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years.