Tencent is tipped to release a virtual reality (VR) headset in the second half of this year, according to industry insiders. The VR market is rapidly expanding, with many companies investing heavily in advancing this emerging technology, and it’s reported that the Chinese tech company wants to lead the industry in its home country. According to the Financial Times, Tencent is already developing mobile VR headsets, as well as PC-based systems, although it’s not yet clear which one of them is set to launch in 2017.
Tencent’s first foray into virtual reality products came two years ago with the Android-running MiniStation system aimed at gamers. Back then, the company indicated that a VR headset that will be produced at a later date would be compatible with the MiniStation, although no further details on the matter emerged since then. Tencent also established a website in 2015 where developers could register their interest to create VR content. However, since late that year, there have been no further updates on the sign-up page.
Another related venture last year involved Tencent and Qualcomm teaming up to work on ideas for augmented reality (AR) games as well as general VR solutions. Further interest in the gaming market was also made apparent by Tencent’s 2016 acquisition of mobile gaming company Supercell and its investments in Epic Games and AltspaceVR. According to a recent report, the popularity of Tencent’s WeChat app would give the company an edge in its upcoming VR race in China.
Virtual reality is a rapidly growing market with many major companies currently making a foothold in the technology involved and focusing on VR headsets. For example, a Lenovo VR headset is due to be released this year while some of the other big name companies investing in the technology are Intel, HTC and Facebook. However, in China, VR headsets have become more popular with consumers than in many other countries so far, with a third of VR headset sales in 2016 being made in the Far Eastern country, according to some estimates. Recent developments also backed the idea that China will be driving future growth in the VR industry, with reports that more than 200 Chinese startups are currently developing VR services and products. More news on Tencent’s VR headset is expected to follow soon.