Some of the fabulous ideas in virtual reality came together at Facebook’s third Oculus Connect conference, as the social media giant revealed its latest hardware, partnerships and plans for upcoming years.
Standalone VR Headset
Facebook is working on a new virtual reality product — a mysterious mid-range standalone headset that is way more advanced than its rivals Samsung’s Gear VR. Unlike Oculus Rift, it does not need any connection to high powered personal computer.
“We believe that there is a sweet spot” between those products for a new device, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday at the Oculus Connect event in San Jose, California. He cautioned developers not to get excited as the product isn’t ready yet for launch.
Meanwhile, the company said that it has made significant progress with Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia to pair the Oculus Rift with cheaper computers. For example, one Cyberpower computer with AMD graphic chip for use with the Rift starts at $499 (roughly Rs. 51,900).
Oculus Touch hand controllers will start shipping from December, and can be pre-ordered starting October 10 for $199 (around Rs. 20,000), the company announced.
Somewhat different than the social experience Facebook is designing, Oculus is developing customizable avatars to give an identity to every person in VR — based on person’s own look in real life.
The avatars are able to detect hand movements and expressions, aiming to provide a sense of social presence as they interact with other avatars in a virtual world.
“Virtual reality is the perfect platform to put people first, because of presence,” Zuckerberg said. “You feel like you’re really there, in another place, with people.”
Oculus has so far spent $250 million (roughly Rs. 2.52 billion) on developers of VR experiences, and plans to pledge $250 million more, Zuckerberg said. About $10 million will go to education experiences specifically.
The company also announced a browser, Carmel, to allow people to surf the web in VR, as well as new earphones sold separately for $49 that will provide better VR sound.