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posted by martyb on Friday July 14, @01:49PM   Printer-friendly
from the a-rift-in-the-market dept.

Bloomberg reports that Oculus (Facebook) will unveil a standalone VR headset that does not require a tether or smartphone:

Facebook Inc. is taking another stab at turning its Oculus Rift virtual reality headset into a mass-market phenomenon. Later this year, the company plans to unveil a cheaper, wireless device that the company is betting will popularize VR the way Apple did the smartphone.

Currently VR hardware comes in two flavors: cheap headsets that turn smartphones into virtual reality players (like Samsung's $130 Gear VR) and high-end gaming rigs (like Facebook's $400 Oculus Rift) that hook up to $1,000-plus desktop computers. Facebook's new headset is designed to bridge the gap -- a device that will sell for as little as $200 and need not be tethered to a PC or phone, according to people familiar with its development. It will ship next year and represent an entirely new category.

Like current Oculus products, the new headset will be geared toward immersive gaming, watching video and social networking, said the people who asked not to be named to discuss a private matter. Code-named "Pacific," the device resembles a more compact version of the Rift and will be lighter than Samsung's Gear VR headset, one of the people said. The device's design and features aren't finalized and could still change, but the idea is that someone will be able to pull the headset out of their bag and watch movies on a flight just the way you can now with a phone or tablet.

Even $400 is not low enough.

Also at TechCrunch and The Verge.

Previously: Google Partnering With HTC and Lenovo for Standalone VR Headsets


Original Submission

Related Stories

Google Partnering With HTC and Lenovo for Standalone VR Headsets 7 comments

Google is partnering with HTC and Lenovo to produce standalone (no smartphone or tether) virtual reality headsets. The headsets could cost around $500-$700, comparable to the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. As they will have less computational/graphics power than flagship smartphones or desktops, Google has developed a rendering system that they claim can compensate by decreasing the amount of polygons needed to render a scene (related video):

Meanwhile, a rendering system called Seurat — named after the pointillist painter Georges Seurat — is supposed to offer image quality that rivals what you'd get on a high-end PC. Andrey Doronichev, Google's director of product management, describes Seurat as "computational magic." It takes a rendered three-dimensional scene and samples shots of it from many different angles. As seen [here], Seurat uses these images to assemble a facade that drastically reduces the number of polygons the headset needs to render, without a visible loss of quality.

Google can also use the same Daydream user interface it's been fine-tuning for the past year on phones. A software update codenamed Euphrates will add the features you need for devices that users can't just pop apart and use as a phone, like a full-featured web browser and a dashboard for accessing settings and other non-VR parts of Android.

Google envisions VR and AR converging into mixed reality headsets, building on the augmented reality technologies developed under Project Tango as well as Daydream VR:

To make VR more transporting, and AR more convincing and useful, everything behind these experiences must improve: displays, optics, tracking, input, GPUs, sensors, and more. As one benchmark, to achieve "retina" resolution in VR — that is, to give a person 20/20 vision across their full field of view — we'll need roughly 30 times more pixels than we have in today's displays. To make more refined forms of AR possible, smartphones will need more advanced sensing capabilities. Our devices will need to understand motion, space, and very precise location. We'll need precision not in meters, but in centimeters or even millimeters.

Both the Rift and Vive have 2160×1200 displays. Roughly 30 times more pixels would mean a resolution of around 11880×6600, or 16704×4698 (32:9 aspect ratio).


Original Submission

Oculus Rift: Dead in the Water? 42 comments

Facebook has cut the price of the Oculus Rift for the second time this year. It debuted at $800, was cut to $600 in March, and is now $400. Is there real trouble in the virtual reality market, or is it just a normal price correction now that early adopters have been served?

It means that the Rift now costs less than the package offered by its cheapest rival, Sony, whose PlayStation VR currently totals $460 including headset and controllers.

Even so, it's not clear that it will be enough to lure people into buying a Rift. A year ago, our own Rachel Metz predicted that the Rift would struggle against Sony's offering because the former requires a powerful (and expensive) gaming computer to run, while the latter needs just a $350 PlayStation 4 game console.

Jason Rubin, vice president for content at Oculus, tells Reuters that the reduction isn't a sign of weak product sales, but rather a decision to give the headset more mass market appeal now that more games are available. Don't believe it: this is the latest in a string of bad news for the firm, which has also shut down its nascent film studio, shuttered in-store demo stations of its hardware, and stumped up $250 million as part of a painful intellectual property lawsuit in the last six months.

Here's a February story about the Oculus demo stations at Best Buy stores being shut down.

Previously: Facebook/Oculus Ordered to pay $500 Million to ZeniMax
Google Partnering With HTC and Lenovo for Standalone VR Headsets


Original Submission

Facebook Announces Oculus Go for $200 9 comments

Facebook is attempting to make virtual reality a mainstream product, and hopes to reach one billion VR users "one day":

In its continued effort to take virtual reality mainstream, Facebook has announced Oculus Go - a standalone headset that will be released in 2018. Mark Zuckerberg said the device, priced at $199, would be the "most accessible VR experience ever".

Sales of the company's VR hardware have been slow since launching the first Oculus Rift headset in March 2016. "If VR doesn't go mass market at this price point, I think we can conclude that it never will," said John Delaney, an analyst with IDC. Facebook's previous budget VR product, Gear VR, is $129, but requires a high-end Samsung smartphone in order to work. Speaking at Facebook's yearly virtual reality developers conference in San Jose, Mr Zuckerberg acknowledged the slow adoption of the technology to date. But he said his company's goal was that one day, it would get one billion people into VR.

The headset is a standalone device that does not require a smartphone, headphones, or tether to a desktop computer. The high-end Oculus Rift headset has had its price cut to $400 (for good).

Oculus Go is not being sold anytime soon, and the Oculus blog warns that "Oculus Go is not, and may not be, offered for sale or lease, or sold or leased, until [FCC] authorization is obtained". Facebook says that the devices will be sent to developers within the next 12 months. Specs and battery details are also unknown (maybe they need to use one of these for you to feel safe strapping it to your head).

Also at Washington Post and TechCrunch. Oculus Blog.

Previously: Google Partnering With HTC and Lenovo for Standalone VR Headsets
Virtual Reality Audiences Stare Straight Ahead 75% of the Time
Google Bisects VR
Facebook/Oculus Reportedly Working on $200 Standalone VR Headset


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 14, @02:01PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 14, @02:01PM (#539112)

    I hate exercise; it's almost never enjoyable for me—it provides me with very little reason to want to do it, or even to build a habit. I almost feel like exercise is another one of those lies taught by the powers-that-be, that it's actually bad for health (because it makes me feel ill), and that the little people are taught to exercise in order to speed up their deaths.

    Well, then again, maybe the problem is that I find exercise so incredibly boring, especially when its loner activity—and social exercise, such as sports, takes so much effort to organize that it's a challenge to keep going, let alone set up in the first place.

    So, maybe this will be the solution: In the future, people will have dedicated "holodeck" rooms in their houses, which are padded and meant specifically for VR activity. Then, in the comfort of one's own private and pitiful existence, one could easily engage in social exercise—imagine first-person shooters, where you have to do 5 push-ups to reload your weapon, or to respawn, etc.

    This sort of thing could get all those nerdy, sedentary kids working out, and building up an appreciation for the bodies at the same time that they're entertaining their minds.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 14, @03:12PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 14, @03:12PM (#539138)

      Sure, why not. Not that VR is required in your pushups-to-play scenario. Strap any old smartphone bursting with accelerometers to your belt and you're set.

      I passionately hate Failbook and sincerely hope all their ventures go bust.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 14, @03:16PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 14, @03:16PM (#539142)

    so instead you'll spend your life in your parents basement eating cheetos and chugging energy drinks?

    walk
    get out in the sunlight (with sunscreen)
    notice that there is a big world out there, you know, trees and stuff.

    it will suck at first, but you will start to feel better about yourself

    • (Score: 2) by wonkey_monkey on Friday July 14, @03:34PM

      by wonkey_monkey (279) on Friday July 14, @03:34PM (#539154) Homepage

      get out in the sunlight (with sunscreen)

      Is that an app?

      --
      systemd is Roko's Basilisk
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 15, @12:28AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 15, @12:28AM (#539412)

      I went outside just this week. Driving a car no less! You know what I discovered?

      There are a few hundred extra cameras up since the last time I drove around town. All recording everything I do. That is not including all the ones in the businesses, and everywhere else.

      While it may be 'public', I can now have *NO* semblance of privacy or belief that my wanderings around town won't be recorded and potentially logged somewhere for whoever it benefits to have them.

      From that point of view, I understand why many people would choose to eat cheetos and live in their parents basements, before including their social repugnance, or lack of interest in outside society. We've become a sick sick society in the past 30 years, and I expect it will only get worse in the next 30.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 14, @03:52PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 14, @03:52PM (#539169)

    i'd gladly pay 1k usd, for this particular device. Hell, i'd pay two k. But if it ever gets to market, i'm not going to buy it.

    It has a large amount of sensors... it needs drivers. It'll probably feature some sort of bloated configuration utility, that is mandatory. And all the software in it and for it, will not be open source and they will not make the toolchain to compile own firmware available. And naturally, the hardware will require signed firmware and frequent updates to "ensure compliance and compatibility".

    And it will all be specced, financed and designed by FACEBOOK. Who are known for their immense support of anonymity, their ethical integrity and respect for their users.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bob_super on Friday July 14, @04:38PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Friday July 14, @04:38PM (#539188)

      Marketing reference guide: Black Mirror Season 1 Episode 2 - Fifteen Million Merits

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 14, @05:32PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 14, @05:32PM (#539216)

    so, virtual headsets for slavebookers to have virtual sex with each other then? if a scanner scanned the bodies of the people you'd have a serious social networking application on your hands all right. what about group "VR"? so many affairs...

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