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Xiaomi VR headset for China could help nail Facebook's goal

The Facebook-owned Oculus teased the device, to be made in partnership with China's Xiaomi, at CES 2018.

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Claudia Cruz/CNET

Facebook will try to "get a billion people in virtual reality," by appealing to a company in the world's most populated country: China.

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Oculus' VP of VR, Hugo Barra, at an Oculus event in 2017. 

James Martin/CNET

In the middle of a Qualcomm press conference where tech jargon flew at a rat-a-tat rate, up jumped a familiar face in the tech world to announce the surprise: Facebook VR brand Oculus will partner with up-and-coming devicemaker Xiaomi to build a standalone VR headset for China.

The face in question belongs to Hugo Barra, Oculus' VP of VR, himself a former Xiaomi executive who brought the brand some recognition by leaving his executive position within Google's Android team.

The Xiaomi Mi VR stand-alone headset will be built exclusively for China, using a Qualcomm chip and Oculus' mobile software bundle for developers. 

Xiaomi's Vice President of the Mi ecosystem, Thomas Tang, also known as Mu Tang (pictured above), teased the product.

Xiaomi, a Chinese company that brands everything from inexpensive rice cookers and air purifiers to high-end smartphones like the Mi Mix 2, will leverage its brand recognition in its homeland to help spread Oculus' platform, as well as Qualcomm's Snapdragon 821 processor, a chipset most often found in smartphones.

The Mi VR headset is a rebranded Oculus Go VR headset -- a $200 gadget that doesn't require a phone or PC to use -- for the China market. 

"Mi VR Standalone shares the same core hardware as Oculus Go," Oculus said in a press release.

Mi VR headset details

  • 2K LCD screen
  • Spatial audio tech from Oculus
  • 360-degree videos and games through the Mi VR Store

Xiaomi didn't have anything to show off, but we're promised more details about the Xi VR headset "soon" -- perhaps at the Mobile World Congress show next month?

PC preview: What to expect from laptops, desktops and tablets at CES this year.

CES 2018: CNET's complete coverage of tech's biggest show.