This article is the first of many articles I plan to write to make this blog more lively. I intended to use this website as a portfolio but I now plan to write more meaningful content.
There are many tech startup here in Shenzhen (and there are also many tech companies in Hong Kong). So I figured it would be a really nice thing to talk about that and the tech environment in China.
So this series starts on Friday, June 22nd was the last day of the 2016 Dowell International Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality ，Holographic Technology Exhibition
A very fancy name for a small exhibition of 30 companies. Was there anything interesting ? YES ! But first I will need to dissipate one common idea.
There are more than 3 devices on the VR market
Before going to this exhibition, I used to think that VR was limited to :
- Occulus Rift, THE device that gave hope to mainstream VR. Unfortunately the price announced was way too expensive and the quality is dissapointing.
- HTC Vive, an expensive VR piece which quality is really good.
- Playstation VR by Sony which is one of the most affordable VR experience but only for Playstation 4.
But in this convention even if the VIVE was the most expensive headset, it was the most present ! Another interesting thing is that the google cardboard concept was adopted broadly in China. Instead of building full VR headsets, they build cases to put your phone. The phone is then used to run the VR content and it totally removes the need for cables.
It is interesting to note that some headset are totally independent (the computer is embedded within the headset) and many of them run on an OS called Nibiru
These “cheap” Chinese devices are not the only one, at least one companies here in Shenzhen has developed a real concurrent to the the 3 major players. The name is 3Glasses and these guys are already doing demonstrations everywhere in Shenzhen. With a relatively good quality and a price if 3000 rmb (Around 410 euros) the device can be a very good and cheap alternative to concurrents. I could only test it with a game controller (without the VR controllers) so for now I can only talk about the visual rendering quality.
I will be very honest by saying that many of the cardboard devices totally ruined my eyes for the day. Sure there are some devices where you can adjust the focal point but it is still very hard to handle.
Chinese companies make good use of the HTC Vive by developing devices and content around it. So I could test moving platforms and see a lot of shooters as well as shooters arenas.
Many of the contents consisted in first persons shooters but I saw one or two funnier concepts like skying games or jet ski games or even a Parachute VR game (yeah you read that correctly), that you won’t have in your living room but is surely an original concept.
This remark leads me to one final point.
Lack of content in VR
Even if some applications were really well polished, I had a felling of “déjà vu” after only 30 minutes on the floor. Many applications were shooting games or home visit. There were also some simulators and other crazy devices but… There was only two or three in the whole building . One of the vendor bluntly told me that “We have the hardware but we don’t have the content”.
The parachute VR experience
This lack of content may be an obstacle to the VR going mainstream because people would only see it for video games purposes. I hope that the Chinese market will see more opportunities to use VR (with so many factories they should find more opportunities for industrial use) !
I can totally imagine parents freaking out seeing this…
Next time I will talk about a place that wants to bring people together using VR !
See you !
P.S. Sorry for the crappy video quality, I took this with wechat moment… Next time I’ll use the real video function of my phone.