Chinese Company FiresVR Announces Rival To Samsung Gear VR

FiresVR, a Chinese company creating its own VR platform, announced this week that it has launched a smartphone-based VR headset similar to Samsung’s Gear VR. Dev kits will ship in Q1 and retail hardware is expected in Q2.

FiresVR said that the JiDome-1 is the first Chinese company to launch a product similar to the Gear VR. Other VR products available in China are modified versions of Google’s Cardboard viewer. FiresVR’s JiDome-1 VR headset shares similar traits with Samsung’s Gear VR HMD such as buttons to interact with VR experiences and built-in axis gyroscope and proximity sensors. FiresVR said the JiDome-1 headset also includes active cooling to keep your phone from overheating.

Unlike the Gear VR, which is limited to the four current Samsung phones, FiresVR said the JiDome-1 accepts various Android phones from different manufacturers. FiresVR said that phones require GPUs that support OPENGL ES3.0 and performance at least as good as Qualcomm’s Adreno 310 (found in the Snapdragon 801) to be compatible. The company said that approximately 30 percent of currently available Android phones will work with the JiDome-1.

The current iteration of the JiDome-1 is not meant to be a consumer product. FiresVR said this first release is meant for developers. It will be available to developers in the first quarter of 2016 for RMB199 (approximately USD$30) and will include a Unity-based SDK for developing applications and games. FiresVR expects to launch the consumer edition of the JiDome-1 in the second quarter of the year but it has not announced retail pricing yet.

FiresVR said it has not yet finalized agreements with any smartphone manufacturers but it hopes to work with manufactures other than Samsung to bring more VR products to market.

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 Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years.