The whole world is going crazy for VR products like HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and Gear VR. Experiencing an explosion in its VR sector China fits right in with this global trend. One VR company in particular looks to explode on the scene, just like its name, FiresVR.
Founded in Beijing in 2014, FiresVR is a startup focused on VR content development and distribution. Lou Chi, CEO of FiresVR, told AllChinaTech that the company has its roots in China’s tech scene.
There are three core members at FiresVR: Two former news managers from Chinese tech giant Tencent, CEO Lou Chi and COO Zhang Chuang, plus CTO Wang Mingyang, who formerly led a VR development team at Baofeng Mojing and was responsible for bringing the crew to FiresVR.
Baofeng Mojing is a VR subsidiary of the Chinese video streaming service Baofeng. In January, it secured RMB 230 million (USD 35 million) in Series B financing, bringing its valuation to RMB 1.4 billion.
Last August, FiresVR raised RMB 10 million in Pre-A financing. After the financing the company was valued at RMB 100 million. This round of funding was led by APUS Group, a rising unicorn specializing in Android development and information services, followed by Fenghou Capital who are focused on internet, entertainment and education angel investment.
FiresVR has launched three products including the VR game The Last Honor, VR Player V1.1 and a VR game software development kit. The former two are part of the company’s VR content while the latter is software that can help in game development.
Lou says that FiresVR mainly focuses on content, but hardware and software are necessary for them to build an ecosystem in the VR industry.
“At the end of March, we will launch our JiDome-1 VR glasses with high-performance gyroscope and interactive buttons built in, but at a low price of RMB 199,” Lou says.
FiresVR’s rival Baofeng Mojing has so far launched four generations of VR glasses.
Lou said despite JiDome-1 needing to catch up with Samsung Gear VR, it is a leading product in China.
With the VR sector heating up in China, many Chinese companies are competing for a part of the emerging VR landscape. Some competitive players in the field include Baofeng Mojing, Shanghai-based DeePoon, Shenzhen-based 3Glasses and Beijing-based ANTVR.
The company that will see the most success in the sector ultimately depends on its core competitiveness.
“FiresVR’s focus is on our algorithm, it is central in mobile VR,” Lou said.
The rendering algorithm can help to reduce visual differences between the virtual and real world, thus optimizing user experience.
He added that their technology has advanced because their team has worked on it for a long time and their effects are 80 percent as good as Gear VR’s.
Gear VR is a benchmark product in mobile VR. It utilizes sophisticated algorithm technology to provide customers with an optimal experience.
FiresVR has developed its own VR operating system, JiDome OS. It has built a simple VR ecosystem including hardware, software and content which are all key to expanding in the VR market.
Future for VR
VR may be hot right now, but it lacks a mature customer base. Despite HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Playstation VR and Gear VR rising in the VR scene, it will take a while for the market to bloom.
“Not enough Chinese customers understand the concept of virtual reality and we have a long way to go,” Lou said.
According to a Goldman Sachs report titled Virtual & Augmented Reality in February, customer-experience, technology, content and price are the main obstacles to the development of the VR industry. The report predicts that games and video will dominate VR content.
“In three to five years, VR will become popular after technology improves and other challenges are solved. The price for VR products will be low,” Lou said.
“Even FiresVR is in early stages, we will work step-by-step towards a bright future,” said he.
(Top photo provided by FiresVR.)