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Nokia Plans to Debut Virtual Reality Product Next Week

It's the biggest new consumer hardware to emerge from Nokia since it sold its phone business to Microsoft.


Nokia is set to unveil its first major virtual reality project next week at a VIP event in Los Angeles, according to sources familiar with the company’s plans.

The effort, which Re/code reported in April, represents the most significant consumer hardware launch from Nokia since it sold its mobile phone business to Microsoft in 2013. It is one of several areas that the company is hoping could eventually reestablish the Finnish company as a serious player in the consumer electronics world.

Nokia joins an expanding stable of big-name technology companies exploring the virtual reality arena — a list that includes Microsoft, Sony, Samsung, HTC and Facebook. The industry is trying to recover after a failed start in the 1990s, when VR hype and marketing outstripped the then-available computing power.

The product to be shown next week comes from Nokia Technologies, the advanced product group left over when the Finnish company sold its phone business to Microsoft. The same unit is working to get back into the phone business next year via a licensing deal.

So far, that unit has unveiled just a single hardware product, the Nokia N1 tablet, which was sold in China. It also has a couple of software products, including an Android app launcher.

A Nokia Technologies representative declined to comment, saying the company does’t discuss rumors and speculation.

The bulk of Nokia’s business these days is making networking equipment, and the company is in the process of acquiring rival Alcatel-Lucent. The company also has a large mapping unit, known as Here, though the company is reportedly on the verge of selling that business to a consortium of German carmakers.

As for next week’s event, Nokia has said little about its virtual reality plans. At a shareholder meeting, Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri talked about “immersive imaging” as among the areas the company was pursuing.

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