Reports have surfaced recently claiming that some newly released PICO 4 virtual reality (VR) devices have defective parts, and that the rapidly expanding ByteDance-owned firm is splitting into factions supporting PICO itself or short video platform Douyin. On November 28, a PICO spokesperson denied these rumors in a statement to Chinese media outlet The Paper.
PICO released a new generation of all-in-one devices dubbed the PICO 4 series for the Chinese market on September 27, starting from 2,499 yuan ($347). Henry Zhou, the president of PICO, previously expressed the hope that through hard work, 1 million units of PICO 4 products could be sold.
According to data from Sandalwood Advisors, a market intelligence company, as of October 14, the online order volume of PICO 4 in China had exceeded 46,000 units, 65% of which came from JD.com and 34% of which came from Tmall and Douyin. The PICO 4 device was revealed to have hidden risks in the design of portable bags after its release, and the company has recalled some products and redesigned them.
Compared with Meta’s Quest series of products, PICO has the advantages of higher parameters and lower prices. However, many tech bloggers in China released evaluations, exposing some problems.
Some mentioned that PICO adopted the Pancake optical module, leading to definition degradation and gesture recognition failures. Most consumers have not questioned the hardware of PICO 4, instead focusing on the adaptation of applications and imperfect application ecology.
Regarding the matter, a PICO spokesperson said that, according to feedback, there was no problem in terms of hardware quality or optics, but some display strategies needed to be debugged, which is a necessary process for VR products to optimize.
In terms of gesture recognition, the spokesperson admitted that it involves optimization of software technology. “Gesture recognition is still a difficult problem for the entire VR industry, and our technology is still in the stage of laboratory testing and pre-release, but we have attached great importance to it.”
According to TF Securities’ report, there is not much of a gap between VR hardware technologies from China and other countries, and great efforts need to be spent on chips, software algorithms and content ecology.
“In recent years, China’s VR industry has accelerated, attracting significant investment. In 2021, the scale of investment in China’s VR field increased by more than 100%. According to incomplete statistics, there are more than 10,000 VR enterprises in the country,” said Wang Jiangping, Vice Minister of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, at the World Conference on VR Industry held on November 12.