iQiyi, the Baidu-owned video streaming service known as China’s version of Netflix, has announced that it will release the world’s first 4K VR headset with 8K panoramic video playback capabilities. The headset will apparently be called VR II, and it is scheduled to launch in May.
Having previously partnered with Qualcomm on VR technology, iQiyi says that the new product will be an upgrade to the Qiyu VR II headset it showed at CES in January. The new VR II promises to deliver a “portable 4K movie theater viewing experience,” including the “sense of immersion in a virtual theater,” as well as support for panoramic 8K (7680 x 3840) videos.
As the company says it’s using a 4K LCD quick response screen backed by a 35 percent improvement in computing performance, the 8K video support is likely achieved through downsampling. Even so, VR II will be capable of rendering videos at four times the resolution of common 1080p/2K displays. iQiyi has said that it will include 3 degrees of freedom (DOF) tracking, accessory-upgradeable to 6DOF.
Normally, the announcement of an ultra-high-resolution video display might raise questions such as “who’s actually capable of offering content for that?” and “who would buy that?” But in this case, the headset will be sold by the same company responsible for providing the content — and a popular one, at that. iQiyi was founded nearly eight years ago by China’s top search engine company Baidu, and after rapid growth in recent years, reportedly boasts over 500 million active monthly users.
Like Netflix, iQiyi both produces and licenses video content, including Netflix original videos for distribution in China. The company says that it already has a “vast content library” ready for the new headset, including everything from “VR panoramic videos and pictures, 3D video, 2D video, iQiyi original VR films and television dramas and VR games.” iQiyi has previously promised access to “10,000 movies, 20,000 programs with panoramic content,” and hundreds of VR II-customized 8K/4K videos.
Pricing has not yet been announced for the VR II. Compatible videos will be available through iQiyi’s monthly subscription service.