Sony has officially licensed its PlayStation VR headset design to Lenovo, which is currently selling a headset that looks a whole lot like the PlayStation VR. The two-year patent licensing agreement, which was announced today, lets Lenovo use Sony’s design for its Mirage Solo headset. The exact terms of the agreement have not been revealed.
Lenovo vice president Yao Li says the two companies are now “[working] together to greatly enhance the design sophistication and appeal of the rapidly expanding VR field,” since “the preeminence of the PSVR design is obvious.” But it seems likely that Sony applied some legal pressure — protecting a design that, as Sony chief legal officer Riley Russell put it, was “the result of years of hard work by PlayStation engineers.”
Sony’s 2016 PlayStation VR headset (left, above) featured a distinctive headrest and a halo-like plastic crown, which made it incredibly comfortable compared to the competing Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. (It echoed the design of an even earlier Sony “personal 3D viewer” headset.) Lots of companies copied parts of that design — you can find PlayStation VR DNA in Samsung’s 2017 Odyssey headset, LG’s never-released SteamVR headset, and Lenovo’s earlier Windows Mixed Reality headset.
But the Lenovo Mirage Solo (right, above), which costs $399 and runs Google’s Daydream VR platform, does look particularly close to the PSVR — primarily because both headsets have a black-and-white design. The headset was announced in January and shipped in May, so a two-year agreement will plausibly cover most of its sales lifespan. We don’t know if Google and Lenovo plan to follow up with another headset. If they do, however, we might see an extension of this agreement — or a markedly different design.