Vietnam is joining the virtual reality scene with a pair of affordable VR glasses made by two students. Vũ Việt Anh and his friend Vũ Đình Hải from the VNU University of Engineering and Technology have developed a virtual reality headset that’s affordable and of good quality.
Vietnam has a young population that loves tech and is highly entrepreneurial. The population of 92 million has 39 million internet users, making the country the 15th largest internet market in the world. Smartphone penetration (20%) is rising and users make full use of them to search for products and services online. The government recognises the potential of startups to stimulate the economy and is supporting the local startup scene with its “Silicon Valley Vietnam” project and a USD 110 million fund.
The two friends decided to develop VR glasses after Anh had a virtual reality experience with Google Cardboard. He noticed that the Google Cardboard is not robust and tried other higher quality products but found them too pricey. Excited about the technology, but realising that it would be too expensive for young tech-loving Vietnamese to afford, the two started working on their own product in late 2014. They aimed for a product that would be of good quality with a reasonable price tag.
The two faced several challenges on their way to launching their product. Being IT students, they knew nothing about the practicalities of manufacturing a physical product. On top of that, few people were keen to work with two young inexperienced students.
Their saving grace was Đặng Đình Long, a 35-year-old lecturer of VNU University of Engineering and Technology. He listened to their ideas, help them to better understand the production process, and invested in the product.
He told Vietnam News: "I was very lucky to live in America for seven years and found that the research activities of students in the academic environment there have developed strongly and have been supported fully by the universities as well as many industrial partners. Therefore, when Anh and Hải asked for help, I was willing to support them in pursuing their passion.”
Sky VR is made of Foamex board, which is lighter than plastic but more durable than cardboard. The glasses have two converging lenses that enable the wearer to see three-dimensional images that give an illusion of depth. The display quality is on a par with other similar products, but at $6 the price is more affordable.
With the launch of their VR glasses the two students have achieved their first aim to make virtual reality technology available for everybody. Other plans like upgrading the product and seeking investors to help develop a virtual reality industry in Vietnam are on hold while the two students prepare for upcoming graduation exams.