Chinese electronics maker Xiaomi – often dubbed "China's Apple" – has unveiled its first virtual reality (VR) headset as it joins the ranks of HTC and Samsung in attempting to gain a foothold in the nascent market.
The Mi VR Play will support a wide range of 4.7- to 5.7-inch smartphones that will be secured in the headset by a two-way zipper. It is wrapped in a lightweight lycra with a number of different colors including leopard print and denim.
Xiaomi said it received 1 million registrations in just eight hours since issuing a call for beta testers on August 1. Users on the beta testing program will be able to get the Mi VR Play for 1 yuan ($0.15).
The company has not released pricing and availability details for the headset once it is formally launched but said it would be an "entry-level product that seeks to bring the VR experience to a much wider audience".
Along with the VR headset, Xiaomi allos announced the Mi VR App, a place that hosts content from partners such as Conde Nast Traveler.
The virtual reality sector is in its infancy and Xiaomi is hoping to get an early foothold, especially in China. A number of competitors have released similar devices, however. Samsung has the GearVR which is under $100, while Google has a Cardboard headset which is around $15. But Xiaomi's Mi VR Play will launch in China where there are not many competitors which could allow it to get a large market share. Chinese network equipment and smartphone maker Huawei recently announced its own VR headset.
Xiaomi is looking to expand beyond smartphones as the overall market slows. It has already branched into internet-connected appliances and segways.