A version of this article previously appeared on TechNode.
TikTok owner ByteDance released its Pico 4 VR headset in China on September 27, following its unveiling to the overseas market four days before. Pico will work with Chinese content providers to offer health, exercise, and entertainment content in collaboration with local partners and launch services like virtual concerts and interactive narrative work — including the famous sci-fi novel The Three-Body Problem.
There are three major Pico partnerships in the sports and exercise fields, and the brand plans to release over 50 related apps.
Pico will work with a Shenzhen-based startup, Supermonkey, to bring users customized exercise classes in virtual reality. The brand has also revealed a partnership with famous fitness coach Pamela Reif to develop fat-burning workout plans, which it said will not require extra equipment.
Pico has also launched a new app named Chao Ran Yi Ke (超燃一刻), with over 500 minutes of workout classes in three intensity levels.
On the entertainment side, Pico has reached agreements with the copyright owner of The Three-Body Problem, written by Liu Cixin, to bring an interactive narrative work to its platform based on Liu’s work.
Ling Cage (灵笼Ling Long in Chinese), a popular sci-fi animation series produced by YHKT Entertainment and Bilibili, will also have a VR version available on Pico’s devices. Users will be able to play as the main character from the show, exploring the story in an immersive way.
Moreover, Pico has revealed two virtual concerts coming this year. One is for ByteDance-backed virtual idol group A-Soul in November. Another is for a Mandarin-language singer whose virtual concert will be held by the end of this year, although the firm has yet to reveal the artist’s name. According to Pico, the show will feature a Chinese fantasy style mixed with retro disco elements.
Pico has been working with partners in the content industry for a while to enrich the experience of its devices. The company launched Pico Video in March with an in-depth partnership with more than 30 VR video-creating firms and major Chinese streaming platforms.
So far, Pico has hosted three VR concerts this year with famous artists, including Wang Xi, Zhen Jun, and Wang Feng.
VR and AR devices are increasingly popular in consumer markets, but affordable, high-spec options in China remain scarce. Meta’s Oculus dominates the market globally, but its services and content are inaccessible in China, giving Pico a considerable advantage in building up local content.
ByteDance acquired the firm last year for 9 billion RMB (1.27 billion USD). The company has since expanded aggressively, with employee headcount growing from 300 to over 1,000, and 70-80% of the workforce is engaged in development and research, according to Chinese media outlet 36Kr.
Cover image via Pico‘s official Weibo account
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