XRSpace Manova: An Update

I last wrote about XRSpace in May 2020, but I decided that it was time for an update on the ambitious project to create both a new standalone, wireless VR headset and a new social VR platform called Manova. (Yes, as far as I can tell, they are using the same name for both. The headset used to be called Mova, but is now called Manova, and I have seen the social VR platform referred to as “Manova World”, to differentiate it from the VR headset.)

XRSpace is working with Deutsche Telekom on Manova, and a German vlogger called VoodooDE had an opportunity to try out the new headset and the social VR platform, posting the following review video with in-world footage:

To put it mildly, he’s not a fan, citing problems with the visual display of the headset and calling the internal cooling fan a “disaster”, comparing it to someone turning on a hairdryer nearby. He played a clip of the sound and yes, it’s horrible! I can’t imagine wearing this headset for any length of time for that reason alone.

While the app store includes games such as Angry Birds and Bait!, it’s still rather limited. There’s also a selection of 360-degree videos you can watch. The various locations in social VR look pretty good, including a traditional German Christmas market, a dance club, a beach with an underwater world to explore, and a spa.

VoodooDE saved his harshest criticisms for the clumsy gesture system. In its current incarnation, you can’t just wave at somebody using your hands. Other people do not see you waving at them! You literally have to open the gesture menu, select Wave, and only then does the other avatar see you waving at them! Mindboggling.

In short, Manova seems to be a hot mess. But it’s still very early days, and we can hope that they make some improvements to both the headset and the social VR platform in future. It would be nice if XRSpace Manova could give Facebook some competition in the wireless headset market, but the hardware and software problems are pretty serious, and definitely need to be addressed.

German vlogger MRTV also reviewed the Manova (but unfortunately, he can’t really share his opinions because of an non-disclosure agreement with Deutsche Telekom).

Other than that, there is still frustratingly little information out there about this product. But I’ll continue to monitor the situation and keep you posted!

UPDATE 3:03 p.m.: I did a little more searching and I uncovered an article written by Gerald Lynch in March for the TechRadar website, where he mentions hand tracking problems (something which VoodooDE also mentions in passing in his video):

It’s also one of the only headsets to feature built-in hand tracking (not to mention outside-in tracking, generally), but its execution is a bit patchy. It regularly lost track of where my hands were floating, and the pinch-to-select menu gesture worked – but would often select the wrong item as my VR hands inadvertently veered over an unwanted menu option. This led to a humorously-brief excursion during my demo session with Manova World’s creators where I was whisked away and accidentally became lost in some sort of circus land after arranging a rendezvous at Manova’s beach environment instead. Thankfully, I was not met by any creepy virtual clowns.

Interestingly, I learned from Gerald’s article that XRSpace has plans to make the Manova social VR platform available for other headsets:

But XRSpace is pragmatic about Manova World’s future. It’s aware of its own hardware’s limitations (understandable, given the blueprints were drawn up around four years ago, a time when all-in-one hand tracking VR solutions weren’t commercially available), and sees the long-term future of Manova extending to other hardware and VR platforms. XRSpace is expecting to bring Manova World to other VR platforms later this year, and is aiming to have 50,000 users in the next 12 months as a result.

So, I anticipate future announcements! Stay tuned.

A look at the social VR platform Manova (sometimes called Manova World)