The disappearing Xiaomi VR

Early this morning, information about the new VR headset Quest Pro of the global Metaverse leader Meta came out, and many developers have already obtained this blockbuster new product. With the new thin and light VR headsets launched by many companies such as Skyworth VR and PlayDream, the new VR headsets have entered a stage of concentrated explosion.

In the recent lively VR circle, the influx of new players has made people feel the vitality of the industry, but at the same time, we have also found that some important players have gradually disappeared. Hope" of Xiaomi.

Not long ago, PICO successively recruited two main leaders who had participated in the Xiaomi VR project team: Nan Dier, the former design director of Xiaomi, and Ma Jiesi, the main leader of the Xiaomi project, which further increased its team strength in the VR field.

This also draws attention to the fact that Xiaomi VR, which was once in the domestic VR circle, has not appeared in front of the public for a long time. Even with the recent hot topic "Metaverse", Xiaomi rarely comes out to talk about their layout in the field of the Metaverse, and Xiaomi VR seems to have "disappeared" in the industry.

This makes one wonder, as one of the earliest technology giants in the VR field, what happened to the Xiaomi VR team? Why are domestic mobile phone manufacturers silent in the hustle and bustle of the "metaverse"? Where are they quietly making arrangements? With these questions, we tried to explore the current situation of the Xiaomi VR team.

Xiaomi VR, has "disappeared"?

The former Xiaomi VR team members are now talents recruited by major VR companies. Even PICO, a leading domestic VR company, is attracting members of the Xiaomi VR team by acquiring companies and poaching corners.

On July 22, Nandier, the former design director of Xiaomi, joined ByteDance. He had previously led the design of products with sales of tens of millions in artificial intelligence, intelligent hardware, and virtual reality interactive experience.

In the previous month, ByteDance also acquired Beijing Bo Particle Technology Co., Ltd., recruited Ma Jiesi, the main person in charge of Xiaomi's VR project, and his 50 employees, adding another general to the PICO VR social team.

According to the data, Ma Jiesi has worked in companies such as Greening and HTC, and he has joined the VIVE team under HTC as the application leader of the VR industry.

Those who have followed Xiaomi VR should have the impression that Xiaomi attracted a lot of attention in the domestic VR industry in 2018 with an Oculus Go VR all-in-one machine. At that time, one of the main project leaders of this product was Ma Jiesi.

In 2019, when asked by the media, "Everyone has great expectations for Xiaomi's VR all-in-one machine and hopes that through Xiaomi's strong channel capabilities, we can really bring this product to the C-side and bring the entire market together. Xiaomi's internal What do you think about the expectations of the outside world?"

Ma Jiesi replied, "Work hard."

When he was devoting himself to the VR industry in a full-fledged manner, just when everyone thought that Xiaomi was about to drive the domestic VR industry forward, the Xiaomi VR team suddenly spread rumors of disbanding.

According to foreign media The Ghost Howls at the time, Xiaomi fired the entire Mi VR / Oculus Go development team, including 12 employees who were originally responsible for maintaining and developing the platform. Soon after, Ma Jiesi also left the Xiaomi VR team and founded Beijing Wave Particle Technology Co., Ltd.

At that time, there were various analyses of the dissolution of the Xiaomi VR team in the industry. Among them, some people in the industry told Zhishi that the sales of Xiaomi VR all-in-one machines were one of the important factors. It is reported that the total shipment volume of Xiaomi VR all-in-one machines is about 250,000 units, which is far lower than Xiaomi's "million-level" expectation at the time.

Although Xiaomi once told the media that the dissolution of the Xiaomi VR team was false news, in the next three years or so, the Xiaomi VR team did not launch any new products, and the Oculus Go was also removed from the Xiaomi Mall. Any news about new Xiaomi VR products. In the recent hustle and bustle of "Metaverse" and "Next Generation Internet", Xiaomi has rarely spoken about this, and Xiaomi VR has been silent.

Is it devoted to research and development or did in the middle of Xiaomi VR?

In 2015, a photo of Lei Jun holding a black and white VR headset circulated in the industry. He has expressed his optimism about the VR headset industry on several occasions such as at the World Internet Conference.

In 2016, Lei Jun said in an interview with Xinhuanet: " In some geek groups and vertical application fields, VR technology is already in the ascendant, and it is expected that in the next 2-3 years, it will usher in explosive growth. But Universal adoption of VR technology is still 5-10 years away .”

Subsequently, the official version of the first Xiaomi VR glasses was released at the Qiu Depu Gymnasium in Beijing, which was a sensation.

In the following years, Xiaomi has successively launched hardware such as Xiaomi VR glasses Play2 and Oculus Go Xiaomi VR all-in-one machine. For the Oculus Go Xiaomi VR all-in-one machine, Lei Jun commented that this product is "very tall" and "cool to wear".

At the end of 2018, Xiaomi published the article "Why We Do VR" on its official account. The article mentioned: When Lei Jun knew that Xiaomi Discovery Lab was going to develop VR equipment, he mentioned that "you have to do at least a good job. Prepare for 5 years." Moreover, Xiaomi believes that at the hardware level, VR will experience at least two smartphone-level redefinitions.

The Xiaomi VR team also discussed the problems to be solved in various fields such as content, payment, and social networking and tried to overcome them one by one. From this point of view, the Xiaomi VR team really has the intention to make a career in the VR track.

But changes in the industry are always unpredictable. What is in front of people is the rumor that Xiaomi VR has not launched new products since Oculus Go, and the Xiaomi VR team is suspected of disbanding. Did Xiaomi VR die before the outbreak of the industry, or is it concentrating on brewing big moves in the five-year plan? We don't know yet.

On July 3, 2020, why did Xiaomi suddenly remove its VR all-in-one machine? This may be related to the market environment at that time.

After the VR boom, many hardware products have no suitable scenarios to apply. Therefore, the development space of VR headsets was very limited at that time, which limited the shipments of the entire market.

In addition, the binocular resolution of the Oculus Go at that time was only 2560×1440, which was slightly worse than the current Oculus Quest 2’s resolution of 3664*1920 in terms of display effect, which affected the user’s experience. Moreover, for some users wearing glasses, it is difficult to use it normally.

At the same time, the VR devices at that time had relatively simple gameplay in terms of content, and it was difficult to have large-scale scene applications, and it was difficult to meet the needs of users.

On the other hand, when Xiaomi chose to cut into the smartwatch and smart speaker track, Xiaomi was more able to make product advantages when the supply chain was more mature. Therefore, when the market size is small and the product form is still immature, it is also the practice of most mobile phone manufacturers to choose to temporarily withdraw from the track.

If you observe carefully, you can find that among the four major domestic mobile phone leaders "Huami OV", except for Xiaomi, Huawei, OPPO, and vivo, have not launched a new generation of VR headsets in the past three years. At the beginning, mobile phone manufacturers shouted about future-oriented equipment, which has become a topic they kept silent.

Interestingly, only Huawei chose to upgrade its 3DOF VR glasses to a 6DOF version, while OPPO and Xiaomi have vigorously promoted their layout on the AR track. OPPO has launched a new generation of AR glasses at its Future Technology Conference for three consecutive years since 2019. Xiaomi also released the Discovery Edition of its Xiaomi smart glasses based on optical waveguide technology at the end of last year, announcing that it will build a next-generation computing platform.

Between the two tracks of VR and AR, it seems that more and more mobile phone manufacturers have a deeper layout and greater investment in the AR field.

How long will it take for the next Xiaomi VR headset to come out?

On August 2, the Mijia glasses camera was officially released, and it completed more than 10 million yuan in crowdfunding within half a month. This product ranks first in crowdfunding of Xiaomi ecological chain products in 2022.

Although Xiaomi has not launched new devices in the VR/AR field, judging from recent news, Xiaomi is paying close attention to the VR/AR field.

In November 2021, the relevant person in charge of Xiaomi said in response to the company's layout of the Metaverse that Xiaomi is concerned about the opportunities surrounding the Metaverse, and has made a lot of relevant technical reserves, making relevant investments in mobile phones, videos, displays, etc. Preparations have been made.

From the perspective of investment, Xiaomi has continued to invest in VR content and the supply chain. In October 2021, Danghong Qitian Group announced the completion of hundreds of millions of Series B financing, led by Xiaomi Zhan Investment and CCB International, followed by Wild Grass Venture Capital and old shareholder Lenovo Venture Capital.

Subsequently, Xiaomi also invested in Zhige Technology, a manufacturer of optical hardware, whose main business is the research and development, production, and sales of optical display modules and diffraction gratings.

Previously, Xiaomi had also indirectly participated in the investment of Dapeng VR. In 2015, Dapeng VR announced that it had received 180 million yuan in financing. At that time, Xunlei became the largest institutional investor in Dapeng VR after this investment, while Xiaomi was the major shareholder of Xunlei.

But will Xiaomi VR return soon? not necessarily.

Tianyancha data shows that since 2015, Xiaomi Technology Co., Ltd. has not had any relevant patent applications in the field of VR.

Moreover, judging from the recent actions of Xiaomi, Xiaomi is more optimistic about the development of AR glasses and is exploring this direction in advance, and the exploration version of Xiaomi smart glasses is also under development. Therefore, before the product form of VR equipment is stable, Xiaomi may tilt its resources to the AR field.

Now, Xiaomi VR, which has disappeared for nearly three years, is whether it is temporarily withdrawing from the VR market and tilting its research and development resources to the field of automobiles and humanoid robots, or after multiple analyses of the market and cost, it strategically chooses to abandon the VR market and leans Are you working hard on the AR track, or are you concentrating on research and development, trying to overwhelm the audience when the "five-year plan" is completed? We expect Xiaomi to give its own answer.

Xiaomi VR, waiting for a good opportunity?

From 2016 to 2017, Xiaomi VR led many people to experience the wonders of the virtual world. Many VR enthusiasts started with the Oculus Go Xiaomi VR all-in-one machine for the first time. From time to time, you may still see old users of Xiaomi VR discussing on the Internet, "My Xiaomi VR headset can still be used for a few years", "Can Xiaomi VR headset play Steam games?" and other discussions.

But Xiaomi's choice to withdraw from the VR track is also expected. When the market and supply chain are still immature, hardware manufacturers can only wait slowly. Xiaomi is like this, and so are other domestic mobile phone manufacturers. They have been waiting for various technical bottlenecks to break through.

Today, the domestic VR industry is in a stage of a small upsurge, and the sales of VR equipment are gradually increasing. Would Xiaomi think now is a good time to get back on the VR track? Or will it continue to wait for the arrival of the eve of the VR product outbreak?

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