Despite ongoing controversy over US data collection concerns, ByteDance continues its immersive journey through its virtual reality (VR) hardware division, Pico Interactive, and its augmented reality (AR) content distribution platform TikTok.
Bytedance hired roughly 40 people to assist in its US expansion following significant efforts to grow its extended reality (XR) division in June.
The news comes after ByteDance bought Pico last year, where the Chinese firm partnered with technology vendors like Qualcomm to expand its XR ecosystem.
New Hardware Leaks
Last Friday, ByteDance filled a technology patent with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a standalone “all-in-one” VR headset.
In its FCC request, the Pico Parent firm filed two versions of its VR headset codename “Phoenix,” including a Pro model.
According to reports, the filings reveal the upcoming headset does not require tethering to an external computing device and contains a fresh controller design, Android Q operating system (OS), and Qualcomm processors. Additionally, the Pheonix Pro model has eye and hand tracking support.
ByteDance is not commenting on the Pheonix prototype’s status and is not confirming a release window.
FCC Roadblocks & Controversy
Despite its most recent FCC filing, ByteDance faces major drawbacks from FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr. In June, the commissioner posted an open letter to his Twitter account, accusing the Chinese firm of gathering data for the Communist Party of China via TikTok.
Written for the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, and the CEO of Alphabet Inc. and Google, Sundar Pichai, Carr’s letter describes TikTok as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” due to the firm alleged data farming operations.
The report mentions India banning TikTok, allegations the service avoided Android privacy safeguards to track user data, and its iOS application tracking sensitive information like cryptocurrency wallets.
Accusations also accuse TikTok of tracking physical and digital locations of US users to Chinese servers, including US government bodies such as the Department of Defense ban the social media service.
This Monday, Carr released another letter from Representatives Josh Gottheimer and Brian Fitzpatrick expressing concern over the impact of TikTok’s data on US users.
In response, ByteDance stated that it would minimize the transfer of US user data to overseas servers, although the commissioner expressed further concerns over ByteDance’s follow-up, citing worries over the “non-minimized data flows that TikTok has sent to China.”
The FFC member continues his mission to halt the social media giant, urging federal government bodies to take action. Despite this, it is unclear yet if Carr’s actions will affect Pico’s most recent FCC filing.