TikTok Company's New VR Headset Competes with Meta on Price and Privacy

TikTok Company’s New VR Headset Competes with Meta on Price and Privacy

A man with a Pico 4 headset looks to the side sitting next to another man with a virtual reality headset

The Pico 4 headset is the cheapest and powerful enough Meta Quest 2 VR headset we’ve seen to date.
Screenshot: Peak/ByteDance

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

Bytedance’s virtual reality subsidiary, Pico, inserted on Peak 4 in a Thursday live stream in English that was both chilling and surprising, mainly because of how much it seems to be chasing Meta. The device will retail for $425 (€429) for the 128GB version and $492 (€499) for the 256GB version.

What’s important here, though, 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, with full pre-orders starting on October 18. the edge noted that the headphones could appear in the US over time, according to FCC Filings.

The Pico 4 runs on a 2.84GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor, according to the product specification page. Considering the Meta already has a contract with Qualcomm for custom chipsets, it will be interesting to see how powerful this device will be compared to future Quests. Otherwise, the Pico 4 boasts a fairly robust 4320 x 2160 resolution (of course, that’s 2160 pixels per eye). The two 2.56-inch LCD screens have a refresh rate of between 72 Hz and 90 Hz.

The headband is just a strap, but Pico encourages the weight of the device to be balanced due to the 5,300mAh battery sitting behind the head. The device drivers are also quite interesting. The loops, used by the headset to track positioning, are angled in front of the palms of the hands rather than around or in front of the hands. The four buttons used in most modern games are shared between both controllers.

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

Last year, ByteDance Sold out Peak for an undisclosed amount. Pico was ranked as one of the biggest VR headset manufacturers. It was a deal that Facebook reflected when it bought oculus back in 2014. Even back then, we speculate that the owner of TikTok may have been preparing for a showdown against its rival in the social media space, and it seems that with its announced specs and price, the company is ready to make a statement. .

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

But what can make a difference here is the software available for the device. Pico makes little mention of what games its system will support, instead advertising proprietary sports shows and video content. Pico showed off some of the upcoming games, including The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners Retribution Y Peaky Blinders: The King’s Ransom along with other virtual reality classics like Gorn, and the company promised that more VR games would come to the Pico store over time.

Pico seems to be going after Meta and her metaverse directly with his “Avatar System”. Leland Hedges, Pico’s general manager, showed off his own rather gaunt and plastic-looking avatar, but apparently this avatar will be used in multiple apps, including “Pico Worlds,” the company’s own answer to Meta’s Horizon Worlds. The company also boasts the ability of its device to track facial muscles to be played on player avatars.

“He really does look like me, doesn’t he?” Hedges said during the live broadcast in a very stiff and awkward manner. Horizon Worlds recently became the butt of many jokes for just how bad it looksto the point where 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 criticizing Meta before the company can announce its next Meta Quest Prothat Zuckerberg recently said was scheduled to be revealed in October during the annual Connect conference. We still don’t know what kind of pricing model for the device, once called Project Cambria, though some leaks have hinted that it could cost upwards of $800, likely putting it among other mid-to-high-end headphones. Supposedly, the Pico will also work on a Pro model that includes eye tracking, though we don’t know much about that at the moment.

But what should also not go unsaid is that ByteDance is not the best company out there when it comes to people’s private data. Has been surrounded by scandal in recent months, after leaked internal audio mentioned that Chinese government officials could see user data. All this proprietary focus on their in-house store makes it somewhat concerning.

At the same time, patents Featured by Meta and revealed by The Financial Times have already shown the US company’s own potential plans to sell facial expressions and more to advertisers. It is a pity that two major companies with long histories of pawn user data they are also trying to be the biggest players for devices that have the ability to track everything else about our lives, including our movements.

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