Lei Ming, vice-president and design director of Focalmax Technology Co Ltd, delivers a keynote speech during the company's product launch event held in Beijing on October 12, 2016. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
The unveiling of 4G-ready "all-in-one" goggles by a domestic start-up, provides another answer to implement the concept advocated by Facebook-owned Oculus VR, which says that virtual reality will not be limited to gaming.
"The reason behind Mark Zuckerberg's ambitions on ‘VR-gets-social' is that the company specializes in building products with social attributes," said Lei Ming, vice-president and design director of Focalmax Technology Co Ltd, a one-year-old Shenzhen-based company that focuses on optical technology and telecommunication.
Lei said future VR products will become a hardware similar to smartphones, which provide several functions, including making phone calls, taking photos and even connecting to the internet.
Focalmax recently launched a series of "all-in-one" mobile VR goggles—Scati ONE, featuring functions that provide both VR and augmented reality (AR) experiences.
The three versions of the Scati ONE family (Scati ONE Lite, Scati ONE Neo and Scati ONE) target different consumers by providing three price ranges: 999 yuan（$149）, 1,699 yuan and 2,499 yuan.
All goggles of the Scati ONE family will be shipped with a SIM slot that supports 4G-connected features.[Photo by Liu Zheng/chinadaily.com.cn]
All of the three versions will be shipped with a SIM slot that supports 4G-connected features, different from other all-in-one VR devices on the market.
Apart from the dual intelligent bionic eye 3D camera that captures simulation images, the dual imaging lens driven by Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 enable the glasses to not only stream interactive game plays and videos in a virtual world, but also offers AR and mixed reality (MR) functions.
An "All-in-one" mobile VR goggle -- Scati ONE Neo, is displayed during Focalmax's product launch event held in Beijing on October 12, 2016. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
"We think an 'all-in-one' product, which provides duo cameras and internet-connected solutions, will not only be a social tool, but also reserves business potentials in the distance education area or even enhances the combat capabilities of soldiers in the battlefield," said Lei Ming.
The company is also in talks with Google to deploy the latter's latest VR software platform – Daydream in its products.
Established in 2015, the company has over $30 million in registered capital and its headquarters occupies an area of over 100,000 square meters. It also has a multimedia exhibition hall, an IMAX center and an optical design lab.
Focalmax has a broad range of products that include projectors, head-up display (HUD), glasses-free 3D smartphones, sports DV, head-mounted VR displays and intelligent housekeeping robots.
According to the company, it has gathered more than 100 experts from the optical, internet and mobile communication industries. Over the past decade, these experts have dedicated themselves to consistently studying and exploring their respective fields and, consequently, have been awarded over 100 patents and seven copyrights.
Press members experience the "all-in-one" mobile VR goggles -- Scati ONE after the devices' launch event held by Focalmax in Beijing, on October 12, 2016. [Liu Zheng/chinadaily.com.cn]
Julian Tan, an analyst at industry consulting company GfK China, told China Daily that it seems that the "social" function has a more promising future for VR devices as socializing, unlike playing digital games, is a "rigid" demand for people.
"But both of them are important applications for VR/AR devices and the R&D is still in a very early stage. Content building and scenario creating are waiting for industrial conglomerates, such as Facebook, to push and develop in the future," Tan added.
Neo Zheng, a research manager of client system research at IDC, said that VR device sales rely on heavy users, and for both gaming and social consumers, the existing intent data transform patterns, including those enabled by both Wi-Fi and 4G network, still need to be improved.
"The 4G-ready function will become one of the new trends as more mobile VR devices hit the market and the system providers, such as Daydream, are deployed in more and more terminals," Zheng said.
According to China Daily, a latest market analysis report jointly issued by e-commerce giant JD.com Inc and research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that as the VR market develops rapidly, the fourth quarter will usher in full-blown competition.
IDC China managing director Kitty Fok said that the VR market would maintain its rapid growth, with the compound annual growth rate up to 75.5 percent from 2015 to 2020.
Luo Xian, founder of 7tin.cn, a domestic information agency of VR/AR industry, said that although the market witnessed a slight downturn this year, the capital invested in this area reached 2.2 billion yuan in the first quarter in China, up 83 percent compared to the overall number that reached last year.
He believes that with the appearance of products that are priced around 1,000 yuan and provide good enough user experience, "the market will be stimulated as more people are educated and become familiar to the industry."