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AR glasses give enhanced sector clarity

China to encourage software firms to devise more innovative applications

By MA SI | China Daily | Updated: 2024-07-03 10:14
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A man wearing an Apple Vision Pro headset records footage in front of an Apple Store during the launch of the mixed-reality headset in Beijing in June. [Photo/Agencies]

Wang Liming, a software engineer in Beijing, decided to buy Apple's augmented reality glasses after trying them on in an offline experience store.

"Despite the high price tag of 29,999 yuan ($4,128), I did not hesitate. It is no longer just a gaming device. It can really help me work better by providing an infinite 3D virtual canvas for various apps," Wang said.

Wang is not alone. After Apple officially kicked off sales of its Vision Pro in China on June 28, more Chinese consumers are willing to try such new cutting-edge gadgets, and more domestic companies are eager to expand their presence in the market, experts and company executives said.

China's augmented reality industry is expected to usher in a new stage of growth, as Vision Pro's official release in China is expected to encourage more local software developers to come up with more innovative applications for it, said Zhao Siquan, a senior analyst at market research company International Data Corp's China branch.

For instance, Chinese internet companies including Alibaba, Tencent, ByteDance and Sina launched new apps for Vision Pro, such as Douyin VR Live, Taobao and Tencent Video.

Chinese e-commerce giant JD also said it has launched JD.Vision, a native Apple Vision Pro app that offers an immersive shopping experience. JD.Vision delivers an experience that closely mirrors in-store visits and transcends the limitations of traditional shopping, the company said.

Consumers can virtually "place "products in their homes, visualizing real-time dimensions, texture and design compatibility with accuracy and ease. This immersive approach addresses common online shopping challenges by eliminating the need for frequent trips back and forth to brick-and-mortar retailers and overreliance on 2D images and text descriptions. Instead, shoppers can enjoy a reliable and realistic experience where "what you see is what you get", JD added.

Meanwhile, with continuous advancements in AR displays and optical solutions, processors and wireless connectivity technology with other devices such as smartphones and computers — as well as improvements in user interfaces and applications — the Chinese AR smart glasses market is expected to experience further growth, experts said.

Shipments of China's AR smart glasses jumped over 150 percent year-on-year in 2023 to 262,000 units, IDC said.

It is expected that in 2024, more AR smart glasses will be commercialized, bringing richer experiences to outdoor applications and life assistance scenarios, another market research company Counterpoint said.

But Donghai Securities said in a report that the relatively high price tag of Apple's Vision Pro ensures its initial user base will primarily consist of enthusiasts and app developers, rather than the general public.

The strategic intent behind this pricing is to establish a benchmark for AR hardware and software, thereby attracting developers to the Apple ecosystem and nurturing the visionOS software environment. As the ecosystem matures, Apple plans to introduce a more affordable second-generation product to appeal to a broader consumer market, Donghai Securities added.

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