Facebook VP of VR Hugo Barra made a surprise announcement during Qualcomm’s press conference at CES. Barra previously led Xiaomi’s international efforts. So it wasn’t that surprising to see him announce a new partnership between Xiaomi, Qualcomm and Facebook.
“Xiaomi is our hardware partner for launching Oculus Go globally,” Barra said. “Oculus and Xiaomi are jointly announcing a new standalone VR product that is designed specifically for the Chinese market.”
There are two different news items in this statement. First, while Facebook already announced the Oculus Go, it isn’t shipping yet. It looks like Xiaomi is going to manufacture the Oculus Go for most of the world.
Second, Xiaomi is launching a standalone VR headset for the Chinese market specifically. This new headset is called the Mi VR Standalone. And it looks and works just like the Oculus Go.
The Oculus Go works without a PC, and you don’t need a smartphone either. It’s $199 standalone headset that has everything you need to run VR games and applications. The Oculus Go and Mi VR Standalone are going to use two different interfaces and SDKs. The Xiaomi headset is going to feature the Mi VR SDK while the Oculus Go is going to run the Oculus Platform SDK.
The Oculus Go and Xiaomi VR Standalone both use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 system-on-a-chip and a WQHD LCD screen. It runs all Gear VR titles. So if you don’t have a Samsung phone that works with the Gear VR case, the Oculus Go is an affordable headset to get started.
Xiaomi’s VP of Mi Ecosystem and Head of Mi Lab Thomas Tang showed the two headsets on the big screen and joked about the fact that they’re basically the same device with two different logos. Facebook is still mostly banned in China, and Xiaomi is a well-known brand. That could be the reason why Facebook and Xiaomi are going to use the Xiaomi brand in China.