ByteDance’s Pico Interactive is getting ready to launch a new line of standalone VR headsets soon looking to compete with Meta, dubbed Pico 4 and Pico 4 Pro. Now a leak has allegedly revealed Pico 4’s controllers, and they look to be a significant step forward in terms of ergonomics.

The news comes courtesy Antony Vitillo, AR/VR developer and editor over at SkarredGhost, who received the images of the controllers from a community member after having initially covered the FCC filing for Pico 4 that popped up late last month. The images appear to be marketing material, or maybe late stage internal photos of actual devices.

Here you can see the button layout, which looks very similar to Quest’s, including a trigger, joystick and A-B buttons. So much is standard nowadays in VR controllers, although Pico seems be switching up the formula a bit.

Image courtesy SkarredGhost

Provided the images are representative of the actual device, it also seems Pico 4 will optically track its controllers thanks to the inclusion of an infrared tracking ring.

Unlike Quest however, the ring has more of a diagonal design that connects from the top to the base of the device. Here we get a better look at the overall design and additional buttons, including the grip triggers and dual system buttons.

Image courtesy SkarredGhost

As Vitillo mentions in the SkarredGhost exclusive, previous Pico controllers were much more wand-like, and were very much concentrated on function over form.

Shifting the ring from Quest’s horizonal orientation to more of a vertical swoop may provide better balance to the controller, and may also help users better differentiate when grabbed blindly. Its more gentle curves on the controller face also look less sharp in comparison to Quest’s controllers.

Pico Neo 3 (left) & Neo 2 controllers (right) | Image courtesy VR Expert

It’s not clear when Pico plans on launching the device, although the allegedly leaked images and very real FCC filing would suggest it’s fairly close.

Some healthy speculation: both Pico 4 and Pico 4 Pro are said to be identical in specs, however Pico 4 Pro includes eye and face-tracking, which may position the latter to better compete with Meta’s upcoming Project Cambria, or what may be called ‘Quest Pro’. Project Cambria is said to arrive sometime this year, so the clock is ticking.

Pico 4 headset, Image courtesy FCC

And Pico probably has high hopes for Pico 4 too, its first consumer headset to come to Meta’s North American stomping grounds. Now that Meta has bumped the price of Quest 2 up by $100, bringing its base 128GB model to $400 and 256GB to $500, it may be pretty well positioned to finally make inroads there. After all, Meta’s plans for the near future so far include raising Quest prices to help stave off growing hardware costs and selling Project Cambria at a price “significantly higher” than $800, which may leave the lower to mid-range open for Pico.

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Of course, the missing puzzle piece with VR is almost always content. Owned by TikTok parent company ByteDance, Pico has been on a hiring spree to fill positions related to the company’s AR/VR content producer, Pico Studios.

Provided the company can attract more developers to help fill out its library of games, we just may see the first real competitor against Meta, which thus far has owned the consumer standalone space outside of China thanks to its deep pockets and market momentum as an early pioneer of PC VR headsets.

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  • The only sales this POS will have is when Amazon buys an alottment
    and they’ll just sit there on the shelves, rotting away …. BWAHAHAHAHA!!

    • Dude, you’ve been banned from all of the other VR forums. Haven’t you learned your lesson yet?

      • Keopsys

        This guy is such an annoying weirdo indeed.

        • Thud

          Can you be any more annoying than every word of every comment BOLD. “I’m more important than everyone else in the world”.

          • T2814

            And he upvotes his own comments; what’s up with that?

          • GUEST

            She is not a dude but a 60 old New Yorker which explains the boldness! You can find her all over Twitter if you want to put her in her place, haha

          • Thud

            “She” most definitely IS a dude and yes you can find him all over the internet.

          • Thud

            No “she” definitely is a dude. He’s in every forum om the internet (photos included).

  • MosBen

    I’m sure the answer is “not good”, but is there any information about Pico’s privacy protections? For those who are avoiding buying a Meta product out of concern for Meta’s history of collecting and selling user data, is Pico any different?

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      Pico doesn’t have much of a history about privacy protection. Over the years they released several mobile HMDs, from 3DoF Go like devices to what is basically a Quest 2, but never gained huge enough user numbers that would have enabled them to make money from user data. Up until being bought by ByteDance they were financed by several rounds of venture capital.

      So the more relevant question is about TikTok’s privacy protection, which boils down to “horrible, worse than Meta, but improving”. ByteDance pretty much separates their activities inside and outside of China, with either all of the non Chinese user data or only the US data now fully handled by Oracle. Oracle is very close to the US government, and this deal was brokered especially to counter any accusations of leaking data to China. Recently there were complaints that TikTok engineers could access US user data AT ALL, but I think that this was quite overblown. It seemingly wasn’t data being siphoned, this was remote software developers having access to live user data.

      Other companies like Meta or Microsoft often host non-US data in other countries, esp. the EU, as US law forces any US company to provide data on non-US citizens on demand without telling those people, and independent of the laws of the countries the users are from. There is still a lot of controversy about US-EU data exchange, because parts of the US government interpret their laws as US companies being obliged to provide them with data, even if it is stored outside the US and the laws there explicitly prohibit giving out citizen data to the US.

      Regarding government access TikTok already went way beyond the privacy protection level that US companies are even capable of legally offering to non-US citizens. And that is ignoring user data monetization plans of these companies, which pose a different privacy problem. Similar monetization plans for esp. Chinese users’ data is what got TikTok the “horrible” label for privacy protection. Basically, unless you are already in China, your data is probably very safe, but that won’t necessarily stop TikTok from feeding you to their algorithms within your country in a similar way to Meta.

      • MosBen

        Thank you for a very interesting and informative reply. Very much appreciated. Truthfully, it seems like things are at least enough up in the air that I might go ahead and buy a Pico Neo 4 when they come out, and if privacy issues become a bigger deal I’ll just stop using the platform.

        • Guest

          Both companies are crazy over getting eye-tracking data are going to inflate another VR Bubble doing it, but I must say Pico’s tech support for developers is excellent and I hope they survive.

        • ViRGiN

          and how do you plan to move on with your life once privacy issues become a bigger deal, you stop using the platform, and in turn loose access to the game you ‘purchased’?

          • MosBen

            I mean, until there’s some kind of law mandating interoperability between platforms, any time that we purchase digital content we have to accept that we may lose access to it at some point. Certainly not ideal, but it is what it is. I bought several games on the Oculus store that I no longer have access to. Again, it’s low key annoying, but I also feel like I got my money’s worth out of them.

          • ViRGiN

            and that’s the attitude! yet i always see fearmongering about buying anywhere else but steam. steam also takes a hit here.

      • Newlot

        You are very knowledgeable on VR and the tech industry in general. Where and how did you gain that expertise?

        • Christian Schildwaechter

          Where is on the internet, plus some practical experimentation. I don’t have access to any special information sources or industry contacts. How isn’t special either, I just dig a little deeper than most. Basically I try to double check whatever I claim, I keep an easily searchable record of everything I post or find out, and I spend a lot of time in spreadsheets with building calculation models from published numbers.

          So sort of a light version of what one would do for publishing a scientific paper, but that for a few decades and a lot of subjects. Plus I’m very stubborn when looking for answers or solutions and willing to read lots of research papers or Google translated Chinese press releases, regularly ignoring cost/benefit. Or how annoying sticking to one subject is to others.

          I also actually enjoy doing the math, while most hate it. RoadToVR publishes a monthly list of the most popular apps, which I consider to be quite fascinating, because you can compare the data over several years and deduce a lot about the Quest market from there, but looking at the number of comments these articles get, pretty much everybody else obviously doesn’t care.

          • Newlot

            Thanks for the reply!

      • Thud

        Can you elaborate? /s Good info.

    • The official statement of Pico is that now they will follow the Bytedance privacy policy, which is basically the same privacy policy of TikTok for now

  • Sofian

    Seems convenient for a strap.

  • Not as forward thinking at the ones of Cambria, but an improvement over their previous controllers, so welcome.

    • Sofian

      There still is a possibility that the controllers of the Pico 4 Pro (the one with eye tracking) use the same tech than the Cambria controllers.

      • Thud

        *That* would be interesting to say the least.

  • Sir, thanks for reporting the news and for the attribution! It’s always an honor to be mentioned in your articles ;)

  • Very interesting tracking ring placement, will be interesting to try out

  • pablito

    The Chinese Communist Party is so weak and fake, they actually make Meta look Great!!!!