Business / Review

Videographic: China's virtual reality market at a glance

By Liu Zheng ( Updated: 2015-08-25 08:03

According to Wang, the difference in the customer market between the two types of VR headsets will imply that the mobile VR headset will gather a wider range of users. However, the ideal product for a VR headset is a real all-in-one device, without support from external accessories such as smartphones or computers and one that operatesits display and data processing. The devices will finally become user-friendly consumer goods.

Differences between domestic and overseas market

Although there are no obvious technical gaps between western technology multinationals and domestic start-ups, as three of the key aspects in the VR development process, interior R&D input, exterior market investment environment and consumption demands have spaced out the differences.

According to Weng, there are two types of enterprises in the VR industry, although they produce VR headsets, companies like Baofeng are paying more attention to VR applications development and resource integration. They have a wider vision and produce mid- and low- end universality products. That's why we've seen its mobile VR head being launched.

By comparison, DëePoon is more focused on the hardware, and it is an Oculus-like company that aims to produce better VR hardware.

The technology development gaps between western countries and China is minor due to the technology requirements for the mobile VR headset, which combine smartphones with helmets, is limited. Although we still have further space for improvements, I think both sides are standing on the same starting line.

"From the global perspective of the market, both China and the world are still in the early development stage of the VR industry. A star product that attracts a large number of consumers hasn't appeared in any of the markets," said Wang. "The investment environment is more flexible overseas and more funding has been invested in this area. The $2 billion acquisition by Facebook to purchase Oculus is an example that exactly supports this."

Investment fever has spread in China. While the industry is still new for some entrepreneurs, a certain number of them are holding a wait-and-see attitude.

In terms of the buyer behavior, the market penetration of game consoles such as the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One are much higher in western countries than they are on the Chinese mainland, and similar to that, consumption demand and consumption power for high technology in high price products in China is lower than in Western countries.

Zhao Qinping, director of the State Key Laboratory of Virtual Reality Technology and System at Beijing-based Beihang University, proposed a concept of "VR Plus".

He explained that VR technology has a wide range of applications, including military and medical training, and airplane evaluation. In ordinary life, it can also apply to education and entertainment.

Several key elements affect users' experience, such as content building, the device's weight, display resolution, visual angle, screen refresh rate, interactive mode and spinning sensation. These will finally become the development bottleneck of VR gears.

According to Weng, the development bottlenecks of the VR industry have never changed during these years, and they include several aspects. One is rendering technology or, how to render an object based on virtual reality technology. This technology is close to computer graphics and it is the best aspect developed so far.

Another is display technology. Display technology is restricted to the performance of the helmet in previous years, while it seems be improved recently to fit the taste of the public, but it is still too early to say that the problems have all been solved.

Apart from rending and display, there are a lot of devices built for human-computer interaction, but due to the limitation of the existing devices, such interaction is far from perfect.

Moreover, there is another limitation that comes from feedback, that which comes from devices to let people "touch" the virtual subjects, such as feeling the touch of a virtual tree or shaking hands with virtual human beings. Currently the feedback receives the lowest marks within the VR industrial development process.

Consumer demand for virtual-reality games and equipment is booming, according to industry experts gathered for China's largest gaming and digital entertainment exhibition held recently in Shanghai.

More than 20 domestic companies developing VR-related products took part in the ChinaJoy2015 expo, where they introduced some of the creations that are taking the market by storm.

Sony London Studios' Director Dave Ranyard, whose team is working heavily with the PS VR headset Project Morpheus, believes that VR HMDs could become the "technological icon of the age", similar to Sony's Walkman in the 1980's and smartphones today.

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