The 3Glasses D2, launched last June, is a VR helmet considered a Chinese dark horse that trumped the Oculus Rift.
It weighs 246 grams and features a 2,560 x 1,440 pixel screen, while just so you know, the Oculus DK 2 tips the scales at 440 grams with a 1,920 x 1,080 pixel screen.
The 3Glasses D2 is the second product from the company, while is claimed to be the first VR helmet which has a 2k screen to be mass produced for a global market. As of January, this company has shipped tens of thousands of 3Glasses D1 and D2, the company’s only two products.
“3Glasses did not come out of nowhere. I have been in this industry since 2005,” Wang Jie, the founder and CEO of 3Glasses, told AllChinaTech in an interview.
“I majored in finance. It was sheer luck for me to enter the VR industry,” Wang said. “I am the kind of girl that loves new things. Around 2002, I met this bunch of techie friends doing virtual reality. And God knows how fascinated I was when I found virtual reality for the first time.”
Thus, this novelty-driven, and in her own words, stubborn girl started her daring journey in VR in her mid-twenties. Wang founded her first company, Jingweidu Technology, in 2005. This company provides three-dimensional simulation solutions for enterprise clients in fields like city planning and real estate by applying virtual reality and augmented reality technologies.
“After years of making solutions for corporate clients, the idea constantly entered my mind that it’s such a waste for such magical technology to be locked up in labs!” Wang said. So she initiated a project in 2012, aiming to make the VR experience available for ordinary consumers. It was spilt off in 2014 as an independent company that became 3Glasses.
Speaking of the name 3Glasses, Wang said it simply means a third eye, which in Chinese legends endows a person with divine power to see things that ordinary people can’t see. “That’s what I want my goggles to achieve for people.”
For a persistent person, this vision is not just the lip service of a businessman. It is a reflection of how she defines VR helmets, and it has directly become a guideline for this company in making products and rolling out its business plan.
In her eyes, VR devices are a new way of enjoying entertainment, which would definitely steal one’s time away from TV, computers or mobile phones. Wang pictured VR helmets as a necessity for some households, or provided in batches at movie theatres and cybercafés. “This requires the product to be comfortable and affordable,” she said.
As introduced in the beginning, 3Glasses products are extremely light. The next generation of product is named Blubur, which stands for Blue Amber, the lightest among all ambers. It made its first appearance at CES in January.
“In terms of price, the 3Glasses D2 sells for RMB 2,199 (USD 339), much cheaper than the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care about quality. Instead, high quality is the baseline for our products,” said Wang.
In her mind, the first group of consumers are always the most important, and have to be taken care of meticulously. “At first, they would take anything we give, and they might later abandon anything we give, if what we offered were shabby products. It’s devastating for the whole industry.”
The Blubur series, which will launch in March, will reportedly have a tailor-made Quad HD display, feature a 110° field of view and sub-10ms latency. One product in this series will be an all-in-one device, which will reportedly have an Intel Quad-core processor.
“This is also the reason why we don’t make VR helmet with phones slotted in. Without optimizing phone systems, it’s hard to achieve a good immersive effect,” Wang said. “This kind of helmet is finally going to be an accessory for smartphones, and we’d like to support phone makers with VR technology.”
With a clear position of what kind of products they want to deliver to users, the question then becomes how they plan to deliver the products to the hands of consumers.
“In the past ten years, I’ve repeatedly tried to explain VR, this way-too-new concept to my clients and my family,” said Wang. “My mom didn’t really understand what I was doing until she tried our first helmet in 2014.”
It struck Wang that they should first make it possible for people to experience VR through a helmet, which lead to their experience center expansion plan. Wang said that 3Glasses provides hardware and technical support to experience centers, and charges one yuan for every order made. Starting from mid-2015 until the end of 2015, it has cooperated with more than 1,500 experience centers.
Following this plan, 3Glasses will distribute 70% of its income to content providers and game developers, which 3Glasses works closely with, to constantly update the content available. This demonstrates full awareness of the importance of content in the eco-chain of the VR industry.
Beyond that, 3Glasses offers game developers many other favorable terms. It is the first domestic player to cooperate with international engine giants Unity and Unreal Engine to launch its own VR SDK. It has also launched a supporting project for developers, distributing 3000 developing kits to developers around the world. Until now, there has been more than 150 teams joining hands with 3Glasses to supply its platform with content, with about half of these being overseas teams.
2016 is a year for both hardware and software to mature, as well as for educating consumers, according to Wang. “3Glasses would like to play the role of the bridge, to unite all forces including hardware manufacturers and game developers, to create a circle together for this industry chain.”
At the end of 2016, she predicts, three to five leading brands will dominate China and occupy 70% of the market.
With its years of technical accumulation, 3Glasses, which has branched out to HK and Taiwan, has apparently already made a mark in the Chinese market. It is also ready to make inroads into the international market, mainly in developing countries in Asia.
And this doesn’t even include all the big moves they are planning this year, because they want to save some as surprises for their upcoming release conference at the end of March. Let’s find out then whether the Blubur S1, which is next in line, will really throw a hand gesture-tracking camera into the mix, as previous leaks have indicated.
Read our VR story series here.