Oculus surprised CES 2018 attendees during Qualcomm's press conference to reveal their partnership with Xiaomi to manufacture the Mi VR headset for Chinese markets.
The announcement was surprisingly made by Hugo Barra, Facebook's VR VP, who also revealed that the Oculus Go headset is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC, the same chipset used by the first-generation Google Pixel and the LG G6.
The China-only virtual reality headset supposedly uses the same hardware as the $199 Go and is most likely going to be released early 2018.
As most technology experts know, China and Facebook are not really in the best of terms. The popular social media platform is actually blocked from use in the most populated country in the world. Due to censorship issues, users are normally unable to access the service via the official app or even through web browsers.
Taking A Different Approach
Thanks to their partnership with Xiaomi, the Facebook-owned Oculus can finally tap the potentially huge VR market in China. Furthermore, Hugo Barra was previously connected with the Chinese hardware and electronics manufacturer for four years prior to his current gig with the American company.
It is interesting to note that Barra was previously delegated to push for the Chinese brand's global expansion. Now, it seems that the tables have turned as he markets the Oculus Mi VR toward the opposite direction.
Same Hardware, Different Branding
The Oculus Go sells itself as an affordable virtual reality headset that generates almost the same experience as the Rift, sans the wires. Meanwhile, even if the China-only Mi VR is practically the same device as the Go, each one will reportedly use a different SDK. Moreover, the built-in interface used by the global model will be entirely different from the Chinese version.
The decision to provide a slightly different configuration for the Mi VR is presumably in order to meet the regulatory requirements for electronics in China. Additionally, this ensures that the device passes the country's strict censorship of Facebook and its patented technology.
Both versions will also come with a controller that looks similar to the one included with the Samsung Gear VR. Integrated spatial audio is built-in with an option to connect a headset via 3.5 mm jack. Furthermore, the headsets will both support the Unity and Unreal game engine.
Design And Build Quality
The Oculus Go was officially announced last year and showcased a new design and color. Unlike its predecessor, the Go apparently uses a breathable fabric for some of its components and its elastic straps. Sources confirm that the Mi VR is exactly the same product albeit with the Xiaomi brand logo up front.