The new story of smartphones is in the “Metaverse”.
In addition to mobile phones, Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, and vivo are about to start a war that may last for decades –competing for the throne of entry equipment in the “Metaverse Era” .
If we say that in the era of mobile Internet, Huami OVs made a lot of money with smartphones. In today’s slowdown in smartphone market demand, how can major mobile phone manufacturers maintain their growth curves? In addition to IoT, cloud services, and car building, the computing platform in the “Metaverse” period , that is, VR/AR headsets, will become a new direction for mobile phone manufacturers to compete.
This is actually not difficult to understand. If we say that mobile phone is one of the important information carriers in the era of mobile Internet. Then, VR/AR equipment may be the main information carrier of the next generation Internet.
Think about it, if VR/AR glasses will replace your mobile phone, allowing you to use them to process information and answer calls anytime, anywhere, then the future market size of VR/AR devices may be as large as the current mobile phone market.
In just three months , the four domestic mobile phone giants Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, and vivo have obtained 13 patents related to the “Metaverse”. Among them, the earliest patent application date can be traced back to 2016. Since then, mobile phone manufacturers have been deploying the VR/AR industry.
It seems that even if there will be new hardware that “revolutionizes the life of mobile phones”, these leading players in the domestic mobile phone market hope to control their fate in their own hands.
IDC data report shows that in 2021, the global AR/VR device shipments will reach 11.23 million units, a year-on-year increase of 92.1%. It can be seen that the shipments of VR/AR devices are in a stage of rapid growth, and the market scale of VR/AR devices continues to expand.
As the leading players who once mastered the mobile Internet entrance equipment, how do Huawei , view the next-generation Internet, and how will they seize this opportunity?
We sorted out the recent VR/AR patents and investment information of Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, and vivo. We found that among these mobile phone manufacturers, some mobile phone manufacturers are rushing to the “Metaverse” with 50 billion yuan, while some mobile phone manufacturers have not released new VR/AR equipment for two or three years.
The initial layout of the “Metaverse” by mobile phone manufacturers is a little different. Maybe 10 years later, they will take a completely different path and create their own completely different Metaverse ecology.
01. Xiu Patent opens its brain hole: How does VR launch a barrage? There is also one-key navigation, blood vessel monitoring
After entering 2022, there is very little information about new products of VR/AR equipment manufactured by mobile phone manufacturers, but patent information related to VR/AR equipment hardware is constantly being released.
According to the incomplete statistics of Zhishi, in 2022 alone, four mobile phone manufacturers, Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, and vivo, have announced 13 patents related to VR/AR, involving VR/AR basic technology, appearance design, optical display, etc. field.
From these patents, we can see some fantastic ideas of mobile phone manufacturers in the field of VR/AR. For example, how to send a barrage in the “Metaverse”? On March 29, Huawei proposed a VR barrage playback system that allows you to speak as you wish. For another example, Xiaomi released an AR guide system that allows you to visit the supermarket and never go back.
Among these patents, we have selected three relatively innovative patents to see how mobile phone manufacturers plan their next-generation mobile terminal products.
1. Huawei VR barrage system: Create two screens to divide new areas for barrage
How to send bullet screens in VR devices, and how to have “freedom to complain” in the virtual world?
According to Huawei’s patent document, the new bullet screen system can set up a new transparent bullet screen layer above the VR playback video to realize the spatial distribution of the bullet screen and get rid of the restrictions of the screen of electronic devices. The area presented by the bullet screen can be compared to The video itself is bigger. In this way, the new bullet screen system can reduce the pressure during the peak period of bullet screen and improve the viewing experience of video content.
▲Huawei VR barrage system
2. Xiaomi AR shopping: One-click navigation, road idiots are no longer afraid of finding a place
Xiaomi has played a new trick with its own Mijia ecology. Imagine when you walk into a newly opened shopping store and enter all the products you want on your mobile phone, your AR device will plan the best route for you in time, and provide you with navigation, guide you to find products, and even Tells you exactly which shelf height your item is on. After you’ve picked up your first item, the navigation will automatically tell you what the next item is and where.
▲ Xiaomi AR shopping patent
This is the future scenario depicted in the patent “Shopping Navigation Method, Device and System Based on Augmented Reality Technology AR” approved by Xiaomi on February 15.
The system mainly goes through three steps:
The terminal initiates a data request to the server and provides the location information of the terminal device. Then, the server will provide the location information of all commodities, arrange them according to distance, and send the final navigation route map back to the terminal.
Finally, the terminal displays a route map based on the latest data to help users find items as soon as possible.
This system solves the problem that it is difficult for us to quickly find the items we need when facing an unfamiliar supermarket environment, which consumes a lot of time.
3. OPPO designs fundus camera: monitor user health at all times
OPPO has chosen some new innovations, for example, designing a fundus camera module.
Many people may not know the role of the fundus camera . A fundus camera is a medical device that mainly examines the retina and other parts of the eye, thereby checking users for retinal tears, tumors, cataracts, and hemorrhages.
▲OPPO fundus camera module patent
In the patent document, OPPO stated that the current fundus camera is expensive and cannot provide users with real-time monitoring. After this fundus camera module is simplified, it may be able to play a role in health monitoring on smart glasses.
From these patents, we can see that mobile phone manufacturers are more inclined to start from the actual landing scene in the direction of creating VR/AR, and provide the most direct and practical functions for users.
02. Xiaomi and OPPO have invested in two companies in a row, while vivo and Huawei are quiet
From the perspective of patents, Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, and vivo all have their own unique thinking on how VR equipment can bring better experience to consumers.
Based on such thinking, Xiaomi and OPPO chose to actively deploy startups in the upper reaches of the industry. Just after the first quarter of 2022, Xiaomi and OPPO shot two companies related to the “Metaverse”. But in contrast, after the start of 2022, both Huawei and vivo are cautious about the investment layout of the “Metaverse” , and there is no latest investment information disclosure.
Xiaomi mainly focuses its investment on the two major directions of optical display and screen. On January 4, 2022, Xiaomi invested in Shenzhen Sitan Technology Co., Ltd. Sitan Technology is mainly responsible for the development, production and sales of Micro LED technology. It was established on October 18, 2018.
As the founder of Sitan Technology, Liu Zhaojun graduated from the Optoelectronic Technology Center of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology as a doctoral student in 2011. He is one of the earliest researchers in the world to engage in gallium nitride Micro LED technology.
He has won the Peter Brody Prize awarded by the International Society for Information Display, the most authoritative organization in the global display field in 2020, in recognition of his contributions to the field of Micro LED. At the same time, Liu Zhaojun is also the second mainland Chinese scholar to win the International Information Display Society Award after Wang Dongsheng, the founder of BOE.
▲ Liu Zhaojun, founder of Sitan Technology
At present, Sitan Technology’s Micro LED chips have entered the pilot line stage, and Sitan Technology plans to achieve mass production of small and medium-sized display screen chips around 2023.
Two months after investing in Sitan Technology, Xiaomi once again launched a company that develops AR optical display modules – Zhige Technology .
Zhige Technology is a high-tech enterprise incubated by the Department of Precision Instruments of Tsinghua University. It has previously received strategic investment from OPPO. It is reported that the diffractive optical waveguide lens used in the previously released OPPO Air Glass is from Zhige Technology.
Zhige Technology, which was both fancy by Xiaomi and OPPO, may successfully enter the supply chain of Xiaomi and OPPO VR/AR equipment with its own diffractive optical waveguide lenses.
▲ Zhige Technology’s AR diffractive optical waveguide
After the release of OPPO Air Glass, OPPO began to speed up its layout in the “Metaverse”.
On February 9, OPPO participated in the Series A financing of Chenjing Technology. Chenjing Technology is a company focusing on space intelligence technology and is committed to building a 3D Metaverse infrastructure. Previously, OPPO participated in the angel round of financing of Chenjing Technology in June 2021, helping it complete tens of millions of dollars in financing.
Another company that OPPO has invested in, Ruisizhixin, its main business is to independently develop machine vision sensor chips, which can be used in AR/VR and other fields.
Unlike Xiaomi and OPPO, Huawei and vivo are particularly cautious in this track, which is also related to the different perceptions of the “Metaverse” by companies.
In an interview with the media on March 22, Jiang Guowen, a blue army consultant of Huawei and an independent enterprise consultant , mentioned that there are two main routes for manufacturers to invest in the “Metaverse”.
“One dimension is the field in which revenue can currently be seen, such as VR/AR hardware, VR vocational education and training and auxiliary experiments, and VR/AR games. Through VR/AR remote operation, remote driving, in these industries can Choose leading companies to invest. Another dimension is the long-term dimension. Many technologies have not yet appeared, and I don’t even know what the business is, but there are many basic technologies that are necessary.” Jiang Guowen said.
▲Jiang Guowen, Blue Army Consultant and Independent Enterprise Consultant Expert of Huawei
He also explained that in the first investment direction, simulation and bionic fields, such as bionic robotic hands and bionic skins, can be considered for investment. The second category is basic technologies like engines, including algorithm engines for content construction, content display, and delivery.
But he also said: “Currently, the development of the Metaverse is in the early stage of hype, and it has not yet crossed the rift. I expect to cross the rift in 5 years, and enter the early stage of business commercial use in 10 years.”
This also explains why Huawei has less investment in Metaverse-related fields. Through multi-channel public information search, we found that Huawei has not invested in companies related to the “Metaverse” since the beginning of 2022.
03. In the face of the next-generation Internet transformation, Huami OVs have different views
Although Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, and vivo have all launched their own hardware products in the VR/AR field before, they have different views on the next-generation Internet. We try to see how manufacturers think from some key and only public statements.
Among them, Huawei believes that the “holographic Internet” will be the development direction of the Internet, and based on this, it has launched a variety of products such as Hetu and Starlight Tower, while vivo believes that the “Metaverse” is still in its infancy, far from being needed as a stage of development.
1. Huawei: Holographic Internet is the next generation Internet
As the big brother of domestic mobile phones, Huawei believes that “holographic Internet” will be the development direction of the next generation of Internet.
At the 2021 World VR Industry Conference, Huawei Vice President and Chief Scientist Luo Wei said: “Based on years of information technology research, Huawei defines the next stage as ‘holographic’, which is also Huawei’s belief that the next-generation Internet will be ‘ The reason for the ‘holographic Internet’.” Luo Wei believes that the next-generation Internet will at least be the presentation of three-dimensional information, including sound, and even smell and touch when the technical conditions are mature.
▲Luo Wei, Vice President and Chief Scientist of Huawei
Therefore, Huawei actually began to lay out the next-generation Internet transformation plan as early as 2018, and established the “Cyber+verse” (digital universe) project, named “Hetu”.
“Because ‘Hetu’ and ‘Luoshu’ are the two symbols of the earliest origin of Chinese civilization, and they are the codes for deconstructing the Rubik’s Cube of the universe.” Luo Wei added.
Huawei also released the AR interactive experience app Starlight Tower based on Hetu. The Starlight Tower provides a variety of AR gameplay, and participants can see various information after entering the interface. At the same time, Huawei has also accumulated a number of advantages such as 5G, cloud services, and Hongmeng ecology in the mobile Internet era, which will lay a solid technical foundation for the next-generation mobile Internet.
2. Xiaomi: Lay a good IoT ecological foundation and do a good job in technical reserves
Xiaomi can be regarded as one of the earliest mobile phone manufacturers to enter VR in China. However, for the transformation of the next-generation Internet, Xiaomi has not shown a clear layout plan to the public for the time being. It can only show that it is laying out related fields from relevant investments and patent applications.
In the face of the Metaverse’s view, a relevant Xiaomi spokesperson said, “The Metaverse may be a new highland for digital economic innovation and industrial chain extension in the future.”
But it cannot be ignored that whether the next-generation Internet is the “Metaverse” described by Zuckerberg or the “holographic Internet” proposed by Huawei, it needs to be connected to other things. Therefore, Xiaomi’s IoT ecological layout will be one of its key advantages in the next-generation Internet.
3. OPPO: Take the lead in launching the “Metaverse”, with a dual-pronged approach to content ecology and talent training
OPPO has always maintained a high R&D and high output in the VR/AR field. Not only does it iterate at the speed of one VR/AR hardware device every year, but also keeps trying different forms in order to find the best product form.
▲ OPPO founder and CEO Chen Mingyong
OPPO founder and CEO Chen Mingyong called building a technology moat at the 2021 OPPO Future Technology Conference. The group will invest 50 billion yuan in technology research and development in the next three years, focusing on 5G/6G, artificial intelligence, AR , big data and other fields.
At the same time, in April this year, OPPO officially launched the “OPPOAR Developer Co-creation Program”, with the purpose of discovering excellent domestic AR development teams, expanding the potential of OPPO AR products, and promoting the ecological development of OPPO AR content.
In the IoT ecosystem, OPPO, which is a little slower in the hot air of car building, this time is ahead of many mobile phone manufacturers in VR/AR equipment research and development, talent training and content ecology.
4. vivo: AR is far away from commercial use, and it is looking for talents with an annual salary of millions
Compared with other manufacturers, vivo’s actions are somewhat conservative in terms of technical reserves, product updates and even investment.
This may be related to vivo’s view of the “Metaverse”. On December 17, 2021, Vivo Vice President and Dean of Vivo AI Global Research Institute, Wei Zhou mentioned that the Metaverse is still at a relatively early stage, and it will take several years for some AR devices to be practical and accurate. The commercialization process of AR is not particularly smooth, and the content and services cannot keep up. “But there are a lot of things we can prepare in advance,” he said.
▲Vice President of vivo, Dean of vivo AI Global Research Institute around
Recently, vivo has also begun to look for XR chip design talents with an annual salary of millions. From this point of view, vivo is picking up the VR/AR field again and laying out the “Metaverse”.
On the whole, we see that mobile phone manufacturers hold different views on VR/AR, and these views also fall on the rhythm of their layout of the next-generation Internet. Vivo and Xiaomi are in the rhythm of the layout of the “Metaverse”. It is slower than Huawei and OPPO.
04. Conclusion: Opportunities and challenges coexist, Huami OV is accumulating the “Metaverse”
On the one hand, major mobile phone manufacturers are optimistic about VR/AR equipment, and have applied for a number of patents. They have certain technical reserves in this field and are one of the important players in the VR/AR field. At the same time, Huami OVs are also driving the development of start-ups such as optics and display driver chips by investing in related industry chain companies.
On the other hand, mobile phone manufacturers have a large number of users accumulated from years of hard work on key hardware devices of the mobile Internet, which will help them attract a large number of users to pay attention to their own VR/AR devices through the existing software and hardware ecological advantages, and bring about the growth of the underlying user base. .
But the brand positioning and company style of each mobile phone also affect their views on the “Metaverse”. Some manufacturers regard “Metaverse” as a new outlet and increase investment, while some manufacturers believe that “Metaverse” is still in the conceptual stage and act conservatively.
At the same time, the current mobile phone manufacturers to create VR/AR devices are not fully functional, have high substitutability, and do not have much substantial functional breakthroughs. It remains to be seen whether Huami OV can break the bottleneck of existing VR/AR equipment and rewrite the story of an era.
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