Just a year ago you would be hard pressed to find many multi-billion dollar companies involved in the virtual reality space, but today it seems like each week another such company enters the market in one way, space or form. While over the last few weeks companies such as Huawei announced their entrance, and Samsung divulged information pointing to a forthcoming standalone VR headset, this week the Chinese smartphone giant, Xiaomi, confirmed that they too had VR and AR ambitions.
In an interview this week at the Global Mobile Internet Conference in Silicon Valley, Xiaomi Co-founder and vice president, Liu De, sat down and discussed the possible new markets that the company will likely venture into next. Xiaomi, who sold a staggering 70.8 million smartphone handsets last year alone, is looking to now diversify their offerings. While many fans of the company will be disappointed in the fact that Lui De shot down all hopes for a possible smart car announcement, he did reveal that the company is currently working on VR and AR technology that may be available sometime before the year ends.
Whether Xiaomi will produce their own headset or perhaps buy out one of the dozens of Chinese companies who have entered the space over the last year and a half, is not yet known, but we do know that R&D dollars are being poured into the space and Xiaomi understands the potential of the industry moving forward. While it’s possible that we could see a full-fledged high-end headset that falls in the same category as the Oculus Rift of HTC Vive, it’s likely that Xiaomi VR will follow in the path of both the Samsung Gear VR and Huawei VR headsets, relying on a smartphone for the actual processing and display capabilities.
If Liu De’s comments this week were not enough to solidify Xiaomi’s VR ambitions, then maybe the fact that the company has already set up a Weibo account called “Xiaomi VR,” will do the trick. Although there are no posts made on Weibo from this account as of yet, it does appear to actually be Xiaomi controlling it. Regardless of what their exact plans may be within the industry, one thing is for certain; competition is never a bad thing in an up and coming market. Xiaomi has been able to help drive down smartphone prices in China and will likely be seeking to do the same within the VR and AR spaces. The company also said that they will be entering the drone market as well.
What are your thoughts on this latest possible entrance into the VR/AR space. Discuss in the Xiaomi VR forum on VRTalk.com.