Why is it that all VR head displays at this stage cannot escape the fate of ashes?

Published on 1 Weeks ago   127 views   0 Comments  

Source:"Weixizhibei" (ID: weixizhibei), Author: Wei Xi

Image source:Boundless Layout AI Toolgenerate

This may be a bit exaggerated, but it is a cruel fact.

The head display players who bet on the next computing platform would not have thought that their huge investment in the future would come so slowly.

Today, whether it is a Silicon Valley giant or a local player, behind the plump meta universe ideal is an extremely skinny reality.


one


This year's launch of Meta, which has made the largest bet in the meta universe, brought an ambitious new product - Oculus Quest Pro.

However, after the press conference, many industry observers were not optimistic.

Yes, it is already the best product Meta can produce - Pancake lens, eye tracking, facial tracking, color perspective, and stronger performance. However, the reality of bone feeling is——

In order to realize the function, Quest Pro is equipped with 16 cameras (10 head displays and 6 handles), which directly shortens the battery life of the previous generation of head displays that can only play for 2 hours;

For the sake of powerful hardware, the weight of this generation of head display is as high as 722 grams, which is nearly 200 grams heavier than the 520 grams of the previous generation.

Although the counterweight has been optimized, no matter what posture you use, no one will think that a pound and a half of something on the head will be a comfortable experience without feeling.

The most important thing is that Oculus Quest Pro sells for as much as $1500, which directly locks it in a very small circle of new users.

Therefore, the conclusion is that Oculus Quest Pro is essentially a powerful "concept car" in the automotive industry.

It has the gimmick that the concept car is not practical, and the price of the concept car is out of reach. At the same time, Meta is extremely confident to mass produce it.

Therefore, the exaggerated price, poor endurance and exaggerated weight determine that Oculus Quest Pro is doomed to be difficult to reach the mass consumers. It is wishful thinking to expect it to bring Meta direct business increment.

It is more of a preview of Meta's future technology, which is used to explore the possible future shape of XR head display and test the reaction of early players and developers.


two


Take a look at Meta's financial situation——

Recently released Q3 financial report, Meta's virtual reality business revenue was 285 million US dollars, but the loss was as high as 3.67 billion US dollars, which is still very exaggerated.

The main part of the money burning comes from two major sources: the first is the high R&D cost, the salaries of VR software and hardware engineers have been rising, and the second is the price of Quest 2 and other hardware that is significantly lower than the cost.

In the past year, Oculus Quest2 sold about 8 million units, while Meta's Reality Labs lost $10.2 billion in the past year.

This means that for every head display sold, a loss of 1275 yuan will be incurred.

Like Sony PlayStation and Xbox, Meta's wishful thinking board sells hardware below cost and relies on software to earn profits.

But it obviously overestimated the enthusiasm of current Quest users for devices. Yes, there are indeed many host players among Quest users.

However, compared with the 3A console games, the games in the Quest Store are far from the mature console games that are frequently spent hundreds of millions of dollars on research and development in terms of completeness and playabilityOne valueThe acclaimed game masterpiece Half Life: Alex can only be played with a PC host.

Quest2 has sold more than 10 million units in total, which is really a good data. Many observers even claimed that "the first generation of iPhone only sold 7 million units".

However, this comparison is meaningless. The problem with Quest is that it has extremely low actual usage duration and frequency.

Meta has never officially announced the duration of the device. We can see how inactive the Quest is from other data:

According to the internal documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal, the monthly active users of Horizon Worlds, a VR social platform owned by Meta, are only 200000, which is a huge difference from the sales volume of more than 10 million.

In fact, social networking is just needed on any computing platform, from QQ in the PC era to WeChat in the mobile era. But on Quest, this VR social platform built with huge investment of resources is more like a "Cyber Ghost City".

Can you imagine that after buying 10 million mobile phones, only 200000 users used WeChat in the last month?

After Zuckerberg posted the photo of his virtual image and the Eiffel Tower on Facebook, he got the comment that "the animation effect I made in the last century is better than this", "it cost tens of billions of dollars, is that it?"

So, how should we evaluate the sales of more than 10 million Quest2?

In fact, I prefer to compare it with the sales of Kinect, a somatosensory device launched by Microsoft that year. The peripherals of the somatosensory game launched by Microsoft sold 8 million units in 2 months, 19 million units in a year and a half.

However, the fact proved that these sales volumes did not represent real demand. Microsoft found that the sales and usage of Kinect's corresponding somatosensory games were not as expected.

Finally, six years after its launch, Microsoft announced with regret that it would stop producing Kinect.

Therefore, it is not as difficult as expected to attract consumers to try new products at the bottom price. What is really difficult is to make consumers willing to wear it continuously.

In fact, the sales volume of the Gear VR cooperated by Oculus and Samsung has exceeded 5 million units as early as 2017. However, the good sales volume has not prevented this device from becoming a loser.


three


It must be said that PICO, as the byte has acquired the hardware manufacturer, has become the bridgehead of the byte giant's exploration of virtual reality.

From the newly released PICO4 this year, PICO has obvious ambitions in terms of product, content and price.

However, it is much more difficult than expected to pry the domestic VR market which has been deserted for a long time.

Regarding Pico4, we look at it from two aspects——

To start with, Pico has made significant progress in product level compared with the previous generation - higher hardware parameters, lighter weight, more comfortable design, and more aggressive pricing.

It can be seen that PICO has made great efforts on the product level, which is undoubtedly the first echelon of VR hardware in China.

However, this does not mean Pico4 can effectively stimulate the public's enthusiasm for VR, which is mainly based on——

First of all, the content level of Pico4 still has a big gap with the Quest ecology objectively, no matter the richness or completion of store games and applications, there is a big gap with Quest.

Secondly, although Pico4 emphasized that the front part without headband was 295g, it did not mention the overall weight. According to the Pico Disassembly Report of Tianfeng Securities, the overall weight of Pico4 was 596g.

Therefore, the total weight is still higher than that of Oculus Quest2, which means that the total weight has not been significantly reduced except that the weight distribution is more uniform.

In addition, although ByteDance has mobilized Ren Lifeng, the former head of watermelon video, and others to participate in Pico's content construction, the content construction itself needs a long time, and the gaps and weaknesses in domestic VR ecology cannot be filled in a short time.

At present, Pico's content team has a deep understanding. It focuses on promoting a number of high-quality content in games, movies, fitness, live broadcast and other fields.

But I still firmly believe that Pico content team has spent more effort on VR content like Three Bodies, which is not worth the loss:

First of all, its production cost is very high,Light chasing animationIt has been disclosed that the production cycle of a 95 second VR experience content of Little Door God is as long as 2 months.

More importantly, it does not increase the real user time for users. After all, a short film can only last a few minutes, or at most dozens of minutes, and the stimulation is extremely short.

There are many experiential applications on the Quest, such as Jurassic World and Apollo Moonshot. There are also many VR short films that have won awards in Cannes. Their common feature is that they are novel for the first time, but the content cannot be consumed repeatedly. The final result is that the gimmick is more than the reality, which is essentially a Demo.

Therefore, it may be more meaningful to focus on saturated resources and hit a few benchmarks such as Rhythm Lightsaber, so that consumers who taste new products can repeatedly consume.

Pico needs to find his own Angry Birds.

Pico set the sales target of Pico4 at the level of one million. President Zhou Hongwei said in an interview with the media——

"It's really great that a product can sell more than 1 million units, because it means it has a certain popularity."

Yes, 1 million yuan is quite a lot in China, which is the first place in China. However, the difficulty lies in the fact that the sales volume of foreign Quests has exceeded 10 million yuan, but the positive cycle model of the economic system has not yet run through. 1 million yuan is still too little.

Therefore, the fair evaluation of Pico should be——

There is no doubt that it is the best VR head display in China in terms of comprehensive performance, and none of them is ahead of other domestic competitors in terms of both products and content.

However, for the non VR enthusiasts who do not use it for PC streaming, they will probably put it aside if they buy it and play it for less than a week.


four


I was once in How to Pour a Basin of Cold Water on the Metauniverse Reasonably I wrote about the dilemma of XR hardware and software collaboration in——

Since the XR technology leading to the meta universe is still in its infancy, the hardware needs to be updated in a multi-dimensional, large scale and fast manner (pay attention to these three words) to meet the actual needs.

This is a very difficult challenge for hardware itself, while multi-dimensional, large scale and rapid update is also a disaster for software developers.

Let's think about a question - why can mobile phones release a new version every year?

The reason is that the hardware update of mobile phones is a single dimension, small scale update, and the corresponding application software is simple in the adaptation layer. The user's hardware iPhone 12 to iPhone 13, and WeChat, microblog and other applications may take only a few days to adapt.

However, this is not the case for VR devices. Each update of VR devices is usually updated in multiple dimensions such as computing power, field angle, resolution, refresh rate, control mode, and input/output mode.

Once there is new hardware, the software must be replaced in a sense to adapt to this complex update. In any case, it can not be adapted in a few days.

In the past six years, Oculus alone has released five kinds of hardware: Oculus right, Gear VR, Oculus Go, Oculus Quest, and Oculus Quest Pro.

They are all VR helmets, but they are completely different from head to toe, inside and outside, and even the app store is separate, so software developers have suffered a lot.

Poor software developers, they were told that "we have new hardware again, let's develop it quickly, or we won't keep up with our speed!"

This is the real situation of Oculus platform, the leader of VR, in the past six years.

Therefore, at this stage, a contradiction that is difficult to reconcile for VR hardware is the contradiction between the hardware in urgent need of upgrading and the software that is difficult to quickly iterate.


five


Note: I do not want to deny the efforts of these head show giants. On the contrary, as a fan, I admire and thank them for their exploration in this industry, which is really driving the industry forward.

What I want to say is that according to the current comprehensive technical progress, today's head display still needs to go further in terms of weight, performance, endurance, price and content to conquer more consumers.

This will take longer than we thought.

It should be truly accepted by more consumers, such as 100 million consumers. (This is not high for the mass market. After all, the global shipment of smartphones last year reached 1.35 billion units.)

The industry needs to create a "dessert" head display model, which generally meets the following conditions - weight less than 200g, single eye 4K, 120HZ, field angle of view 120 degrees, 4 hours of endurance, and price less than 2500.

When can such an integrated head display be made in the industry?

Last week, I specifically consulted a senior hardware engineer of a leading domestic OEM company, and his answer was "at least 4 years, and more than 10 years!"

He further explained why——

"It is not as difficult as expected to achieve 2 and 3 of these, even some engineering machines have been realized now, but the difficulty is that all the above conditions are met, which is both necessary and necessary, and the difficulty is exponential."

In fact, we only need to review the history to find that his words are not exaggerated——

When was HoloLens released? The answer is seven years ago.

When was PS VR released? The answer is six years ago.

How much progress do you think their new products have made in recent years? You should know that Microsoft and Sony have already become the industry's major manufacturers with considerable investment in resources and technology.

So the simple conclusion is——

The VR industry will be in the exploration period for quite a long time in the future. Those who expect it to be able to shoulder the responsibility of the next computing platform in three to five years will be disappointed. The industry needs more patience.


six


Some people say that the industry will become popular when Apple's head display is released.

This is also wishful thinking.

Yes, as the undisputed king in the field of consumer electronics, Apple's technical strength and product definition ability are unmatched.

Apple's entry will undoubtedly inject a shot in the arm into the XR industry. Apple has two obvious advantages——

First, it has a high degree of software and hardware integration, excellent chip design and excellent operating system development experience.

Second, it has a strong user oriented product definition ability. It is Apple's teaching industry competitors how to make an excellent mobile phone, an excellent tablet computer, an excellent watch, and an excellent wireless headset.

Today, the industry expects Apple to teach you how to make an excellent XR head display.

However, according to the information from the industry chain, the price of the first head display of Apple will be set at about 3000 dollars. Such a high price is bound to not reach the public in a short period of time. You know, the iPhone was only priced at 499 dollars when it was released.

Note that this pricing is not Apple's high premium, but as one of the most cutting-edge consumer electronics, its chips, sensors, control units and other accessories need the highest specification components in the industry, so it is difficult to reduce the cost in a short time.

For many smart phones today, there is indeed excess performance, but for VR head displays, today's problem is insufficient performance.

The industry needs to continue to work hard on the head display chip with powerful performance, low power consumption and low price.

Apple's selling price of about 3000 dollars also determines that it is only a product for a few people to taste at the beginning of its release. To truly realize the popularity of products, it still needs the overall technological progress of the industry.


seven


From text to picture, from picture to video, from low definition video to high-definition video, from high-definition video to panoramic video, from panoramic video to virtual reality symbiosis, the general trend of digitalization of human life is bound to evolve in a more immersive direction.

This evolution puts forward new requirements for the development of technology. At the current pace, we still have a long way to go from immersive technology that is really available to everyone.

That's right. Today we bought the Hongmi mobile phone of Yibu 699. Its functions are not fundamentally different from those of the 9999 iPhone.

The core logic here is that even the 699 phone is far above the "usable" standard.

However, today's "Red Rice Mobile Phone" in the XR hardware industry has not yet been born. Even the leading Oculus, HoloLens and Pico in the industry, their products today are still exploratory "transitional" products in a sense.

Fortunately, the giants have begun to make big bets in this field——

From Meta to Microsoft, from Apple to Qualcomm, from byte to Tencent, although the limited output at present cannot satisfy ordinary consumers, they are promoting the progress of the industry from the underlying technology, software architecture to application ecology in their own way.

Therefore, although the reality is very skinny, every participant who has made arduous exploration for this industry deserves to be respected. As consumers, we, Be patient!


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