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Thisfunktional Magazine

FiresVR Launches Xiaomi-based, GearVR-like Products

3:58 PM

Product line includes Unity-based SDK, mobile phone
VR hardware with built-in IMU, and an operating system

Prices set at RMB199, or about USD$30

Chinese virtual reality platform company FiresVR launched its JiDome-1 this month, VR hardware product for phones that is highly similar to Samsung's GearVR.

In addition to hardware, the company has dubbed itself "The"Xiaomi of China's VR industry," and has also introduced a Unity-based SDK and a complete user interaction system.

This is China's first mobile phone VR hardware product with built-in high-performance IMU and interactive buttons.

Previously the Chinese market had been flooded with similar products based on Google's cardboard and modified versions of its open-source SDK, which were more like toys stead of formal VR products.

It is also the first time that a Chinese company has attempted to provide a high-performance product comparable to GearVR.

JiDome-1 has an optical structure adapted to screen sizes of all mainstream mobile phones, a high-precision 9-axis gyroscope and proximity sensor, redefined weak interaction buttons, and an air-cooling system with balanced cooling efficiency and working noise.

It will be available to developers in the first quarter of 2016, priced at RMB199, or about USD$30. The consumer edition of JiDome-1 will be marketed in the second quarter, but its price remains unknown.

According to FiresVR founder and CEO Frank Lou, JiDome-1 is technically very close to Samsung's GearVR. But unlike GearVR, which only supports Samsung phones, JiDome-1 is compatible with extensive Android phones with designated parameters.

Still lacking support from key mobile phone manufacturers, JiDome-1 is slightly inferior to GearVR in user experience, but the gap may be closed if mobile phone manufacturers are willing to cooperate.

JiDome-1 has adopted an ATW algorithm similar to that of GearVR, but to date not all Android phones support it.

Compatible phones must have GPUs that support API of OPENGL ES3.0 or higher, with overall performance equivalent to or better than Qualcomm Adreno 310 (a GPU built into the Qualcomm 801 platform).

This means that JiDome-1 is only adaptable to 30% of mobile phones currently on market, but the proportion is expected to exceed 50% in 2016, driven by natural iteration on the mobile phone market.

The three co-founders of FiresVR hail from Tencent and Baofeng Technology.

Its technology team used to be the VR software group at Baofeng Technology, which is now well-known on the A-share stock market. Shortly before the company floated its A-shares, the entire VR software group left Baofeng and incorporated FiresVR in October 2014, aspiring to become "The Xiaomi of the VR industry" in China.

Interestingly, the Xiaomi Note Flagship edition was used in FiresVR's hardware demonstration at the product launch event, but the company said that it has not yet finalized a cooperation agreement with any mobile phone manufacturers.

It is hoping to work with non-Samsung manufacturers to launch more mobile VR products.

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