from the Go-for-it dept.
Facebook/Oculus has launched the standalone Oculus Go, which is an untethered wireless virtual reality headset similar to smartphone-based VR systems such as Samsung's Gear VR, but with its own built-in Snapdragon 821 SoC instead of using a smartphone:
The Oculus Go, a self-contained headset that offers mobile virtual reality without a smartphone, is going on sale today in 23 countries. The headset's $199 base version has 32GB of storage, and a 64GB version will sell for $249. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called it "the easiest way to get into VR," and in our review, we've found that it's certainly easy to use — but it still has major limitations.
The Oculus Go lacks 6 degrees of freedom (6DoF), unlike the upcoming Lenovo Mirage Solo. It also has just about 1-2 hours of useful battery life before needing to be recharged for a couple of hours, and the company discourages you from wearing it while it is recharging. SuperData predicts that Oculus Go will outsell all other VR headsets this year. The low price of $200 and untethered design could bring VR closer to becoming mainstream.
At its F8 conference, Facebook hinted at some features coming to its future VR headsets, including variable depth-of-field using physically adjusted varifocal lenses, an increase from a 110 to a 140-degree field-of-view without increasing the size of the headset, and built-in hand tracking. (Also at TechCrunch.) Facebook also announced Oculus Venues, an app for displaying live sports events, concerts, comedy shows, etc. in VR. These live events will begin on May 30.
Also at Tom's Hardware, RoadtoVR, USA Today, and Digital Trends. MIT Technology Review has an interview with Rachel Franklin, Facebook's head of social VR, who admits "there's not much to do" in Facebook Spaces, the company's "social VR app".
Facebook used its latest virtual reality conference, the fifth annual Oculus Connect, to finally confirm retail plans for its most ambitious standalone VR product yet: the Oculus Quest. Originally known by its prototype name, Oculus Santa Cruz, the Quest will ship in spring 2019 for $399.
In terms of the sales pitch, this is the Oculus holy grail: a wireless, hand-tracked, "six degrees of freedom" VR system with apparently legitimate 3D power and no required PC or phone.
The headset will include two bundled handheld controllers, and more than 50 games will be available at launch. The headset has a 1600×1440 per eye resolution (3200×1440 total resolution), compared to 1280×1440 per eye for Oculus Go or 1440×1600 per eye for HTC's Vive Pro, and has 64 GB of internal storage.
Signaling the end to any remaining degrees of separation between Facebook and its VR headset division, Oculus, today the social media company announced that it will be further integrating the two services. Coming this fall, the company will begin sunsetting stand-alone Oculus accounts as part of an effort to transition the entire Oculus ecosystem over to Facebook. This will start in October, when all new Oculus accounts and devices will have to sign up for a Facebook account, while support for existing stand-alone accounts will be retired entirely at the start of 2023.
Previously: Facebook to Buy Rift Maker Oculus VR for $2bn
Facebook/Oculus Ordered to pay $500 Million to ZeniMax
Founder of Oculus VR, Palmer Luckey, Departs Facebook
Facebook Announces Oculus Go for $200
Facebook's Zuckerberg Wants to Get One Billion People in VR
Facebook Launches Oculus Go, a $200 Standalone VR Headset
Oculus Co-Founder Says there is No Market for VR Gaming
John Carmack Steps Down at Oculus to Pursue AI Passion Project
Facebook is Developing its Own OS to Reduce Dependence on Android
Oculus VR's new platform for live entertainment experiences is launching today for the new, standalone Oculus Go headset and Samsung's Gear VR. The platform, called Oculus Venues, was first announced at Facebook's F8 developer conference at the beginning of May. It's centered on delivering live events like sporting matches, concerts, and comedy shows in the style of a streaming TV service — but in VR. That means viewers effectively get front-row seats to live shows from the comfort of their home, so long as they're content with wearing a VR headset for an extended period of time.
The first Venues event will be a live Vance Joy concert at Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheater, followed by a Gotham Comedy Live show streamed from New York City in partnership with live events platform NextVR. Oculus has also released an entire summer lineup through August 27th that includes a pretty diverse slate of sports matches, live shows, and movies.
Brendan Iribe, the co-founder and former CEO of Oculus, announced today that he is leaving Facebook, TechCrunch has learned.
Iribe is leaving Facebook following some internal shake-ups in the company's virtual reality arm last week that saw the cancellation of the company's next generation "Rift 2" PC-powered virtual reality headset, which he had been leading development of, a source close to the matter told TechCrunch.
Iribe and the Facebook executive team had "fundamentally different views on the future of Oculus that grew deeper over time," and Iribe wasn't interested in a "race to the bottom" in terms of performance, we are told.
[...] The cancellation of the company's next-gen PC-based "Rift 2" virtual reality product showcases how the interests of Facebook's executive leadership have centered on all-in-one headsets that don't require a connection to an external PC or phone. In May, Oculus released the $199 Oculus Go headset and plans to release the $399 Oculus Quest headset sometime next spring.
The blog post in particular references a report from Digital Trends which talks about VR sales figures from Amazon, and proceeds to point out a number of ways which the data presented could be misleading.
Several points made by HTC Vive are ones that have also been addressed by VRFocus, as seen in an article about the modern VR cycle, and some comments in the weekly VR vs. article. HTC Vive were not pulling punches right from the very start, evening saying in the introduction: "Analyst reports are in and apparently, it's curtains for Virtual Reality (VR). Pardon us if we're not heeding the alarms. News of the so-called death of VR comes once a year and is greatly exaggerated."
From there, the blog post proceeds in a point-by-point fashion, discussing how early consumer VR was largely driven by smartphone-based devices such as the Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard. Not only have these devices been superseded by standalone units like the Oculus Go, which offer a better visual experience, but the promotional offers which were available for phone launches have now long since passed. HTC Vive also point out that PC-based VR companies are yet to release any solid sales figures, and that much of the growth of premium VR has been centered around location-based VR centres, something which the Digital Trends report did not address.
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.
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).
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