Facebook VR VP Hugo Barra took the stage at the CES 2018 to announce Xiaomi as the social media giant’s hardware partner for the upcoming Oculus Go headset. Speaking at the Qualcomm Press Conference, Barra revealed that the $199 Xiaomi Oculus Go standalone headset is set to be unveiled somewhere later this year.
Xiaomi as a hardware partner was seemingly an obvious choice for Facebook considering Barra himself was the Vice President of the Chinese OEM before joining Zuckerberg’s team. As per IDC, Xiaomi is the fifth largest smartphone manufacturer in the world. It’s also popular for its wide array of smart home accessories starting from LED lamps to air purifiers. Incidentally, Xiaomi was strategic for the Google’s own Daydream VR project.
Collaborating with Xiaomi will help Facebook in spreading its wings into China. Apart from making the Oculus Go for international markets, Xiaomi will be selling the standalone VR headset in its homeland as the Mi VR Standalone. The headset, however, would support Oculus’s mobile software development kit. That apart Barra didn’t reveal details regarding the launch date of the new headset. So far, it is believed to hit stores somewhere in the first half of this year.
Qualcomm too joined the party by announcing that the Oculus Go will be powered by its Snapdragon 821 SoC. It’s the same chip powering the last generation flagship smartphones including the Google Pixel, LG G6 and OnePlus 5.
The Oculus Go aims to increase VR adoption among general consumers. It sits right in between the high-end $499 Rift and the $129 Gear VR. Unlike the Gear VR, the Oculus Go wouldn’t need an additional smartphone to function, all thanks to the Qualcomm internals. The upcoming standalone headset is set to come with new lenses, 2K display and built-in support for spatial audio.