TikTok Company’s new VR headset rivals Meta on price

A man wearing a Pico 4 headset looks to the side sitting next to another man wearing a VR headset

The Pico 4 headset is the closest and sufficiently powerful VR device to the Meta Quest 2 we’ve seen to date.
Screenshot: Pico/ByteDance

Meta is terrified of TikTok overbearing presence in the social media market, and now it looks like the company behind the app, ByteDance, is coming for Meta’s own stake in the Metaverse with the closest priced headset we’ve seen to the Quest 2.

Bytedance’s VR subsidiary, Pico, introduced the Pico 4 in an English livestream on Thursday that was both squeaky and surprising, mostly because of how much it seems to be doing after Meta. The device will retail for $425 (€429) for the 128GB version and $492 (€499) for the 256GB version.

The big thing here, however, is that the device will only launch outside of its home country in Japan, Korea and 13 countries in Europe including the UK, France, Germany , Spain and Italy. The Chinese market will get its own announcement on September 27, and full pre-orders are expected to start on October 18. The edge noted that the helmet could eventually appear in the United States, based on FCC Filings.

The Pico 4 runs on a 2.84GHz eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor, according to the product specifications page. Since Meta has already contracted with Qualcomm for custom chipsets, it will be interesting to see how powerful this device will be against future quests. Otherwise, the Pico 4 offers a pretty beefy 4,320 x 2,160 resolution (of course, that’s 2,160 pixels per eye). The two 2.56-inch LCD screens offer a refresh rate between 72Hz and 90Hz.

The headband is just one strap, but Pico promotes that the weight of the device is balanced thanks to the 5300mAh battery located behind the head. The controllers of the device are also very interesting. The loops, used by the helmet to track positioning, are angled in front of the palms rather than around or in front of the hands. The four buttons used in most modern games are shared between the two controllers.

But Pico also advertises that you won’t have to use controllers for everything, as the device has hand tracking capabilities. Of course, the company hasn’t shown this feature in action. The Quest 2 also has manual tracking.

Last year, ByteDance redeemed Pico for an undisclosed amount. Pico has been ranked among the top VR headset manufacturers. It was a deal that mirrored Facebook when it bought it Oculus back in 2014. Even back then, we speculated that the TikTok owner might have been bracing for a showdown against its rival in the social media space, and it looks like with its advertised specs and price, the company is ready to make a statement.

Meta recently blow up the price of its $100 128GB and 256GB Quest 2 models, so Pico 4 now sits comfortably against the $399 Quest headset.

But what can make the difference here is the software available for the device. Pico makes little mention of the games its system will support, but instead advertises exclusive sports programs and video content. Pico showed off a few upcoming games, including The Walking Dead: Punishment of Saints and Sinners and Peaky Blinders: The King’s Ransom alongside other virtual reality classics like Gorn, and the company promised more VR games would come to the Pico store over time.

Pico seems to be directly attacking Meta and its metaverse with its “Avatar System”. Leland Hedges, Pico’s chief executive, showed off his own rather gaunt, plastic-looking avatar, but apparently that avatar will be used in multiple apps, including “Pico Worlds,” the company’s own answer to Meta’s Horizon Worlds. . The company is also touting its device’s ability to track facial muscles that will be replicated on player avatars.

“He really looks like me, doesn’t he,” Hedges said during the livestream in a very stiff and uncomfortable manner. Horizon Worlds has recently become the butt of many jokes for only how bad does it lookto the point that CEO Mark Zuckerberg had to come out and tell everyone that his own avatar won’t look like a dead doll forever after enough graphic updates.

Pico is also firing on Meta before the company can announce its next Meta Quest Prothat Zuckerberg recently said was to be unveiled in October at the annual Connect conference. We still don’t know what kind of pricing model for the device once dubbed Project Cambria, though some leaks have hinted it could cost upwards of $800, likely positioning it around other mid-to-high tier headsets. . Pico will also be working on a Pro model that includes eye tracking, although we don’t know much about that at this point.

But what should also not be forgotten is that ByteDance is not the best company when it comes to private data. It was surrounded by scandal in recent months, after an internal audio leak, it was mentioned that user data could be seen by Chinese government officials. All this exclusive focus on its internal store makes it somewhat concerning.

At a time, patents filings by Meta and revealed by the Financial Times have already shown the US company’s potential plans to sell facial expressions and more to advertisers. It’s a shame that two big companies with a long history of user data pledge are also trying to be the biggest players for devices that can track everything else in our lives, including our movements.

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