Qin Zheng, the founder and CEO of ANTVR, walked on stage with a casual white shirt and jeans to speak passionately at the 12th Global Mobile Game Congress held in Beijing on Wednesday.
“The VR ecosystem can be built in 2016,” Qin told AllChinaTech. “Because the production of VR devices can exceed one million in China this year and ten million by 2018.”
Qin, 29 years old, is now leading one of the largest VR makers in China. A dropout PhD student at the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), he believes that he can deliver a killer VR product. Now he is close to realizing his dream.
Three weeks ago, ANTVR announced its union with Hartmut Esslinger, the founder of Frog Design and the former designer of Apple. Qin said that most VR devices have bulky designs that are heavy and unfriendly to users. ANTVR will take the chance to launch a VR device with a thinner and lighter design.
Founded in 2013, ANTVR is a Beijing-based VR startup mainly focusing on virtual reality, augmented reality, and holographic display technologies. The company has launched a series of VR devices such as VR headsets, VR cameras, and VR glasses since its establishment.
“We have delivered more than 200,000 VR devices in the first quarter of 2016,” said Qin. “We will launch the second generation of our VR headset in mid-2016.”
ANTVR received RMB 300 million (USD 46 million) in Series B financing in December 2015. The financing was led by Gosuncn Technology Group Co.,Ltd., which is based in Guangzhou in southern China.
“This round of financing will be mainly used on the construction of our VR ecosystem, including the layout of VR content such as games and video,” Qin said. “Although we are not presently engaged in game development or video production, we can get this content by cooperating with game developers or video makers.”
He added that compared with rivals, their biggest advantage lies in their stress on collaboration. For example, they cooperated with Lenovo to launch a set of VR glasses last year.
“Just like iOS and Android, there are two paths in any industry: a closed path and an open path. At this stage, the foreign VR makers are mainly focusing on a closed path, which results in a fierce competition where everyone wants to take the lead. On the contrary, ANTVR has taken the open path since its establishment. This helps us avoid head-on competition with rivals abroad,” said Qin.
Currently, many VR makers have delivered their own VR operating systems. In Qin’s eyes, the present VR operating systems are all based on the customization of Android systems and everyone is on the same starting line. He thinks Chinese VR makers have the chance to make a difference on VR operating systems.
The key to success depends on who can launch the most competitive creative interactive mode. The keyboard and mouse are components of the interactive mode in the PC era, the ultimate mode of interaction in the mobile phone era is the touch screen, and the interactive mode in the VR era is gesture recognition. Compared with foreign VR makers, Qin said that Chinese domestic developers are more conservative, but they’ll have to change right away if they want to take the lead in the VR field.
When talking about which will dominate the VR market – mobile VR devices or PC VR devices, Qin said both types both have their own advantages. In the short term, they will keep pace with each other. And when there is a large surplus of computing power, mobile VR devices will gradually dominate the market.
2016 will be the year for VR, Qin said. The VR industry is developing rapidly with the flood of tech giants into the field. Qin predicts that the size of the global VR market can exceed USD 100 billion by 2020. Then, VR will enter a phase of universal popularity.
Nowadays, the VR industry is mushrooming in the Chinese domestic market. Rivals of ANTVR include BaofengMojing, launched by China’s video streaming platform Baofeng.com, Shanghai-based Deepon and Shenzhen-based 3Glasses.
Read our VR story series here.
(Top photo provided by ANTVR)