Facebook has announced Oculus Go – a standalone headset scheduled for release in 2018. Mark Zuckerberg believes the device, priced at $199, to be the “most accessible VR experience ever”.
Sales of the enterprise’s VR hardware have not been great 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,” explains John Delaney, an analyst with IDC. The current budget manner to use Facebook’s VR is the Samsung Gear VR at $129, combined with a Samsung smartphone.
At Facebook’s annual VR Developers Conference in San Jose, Zuckerberg acknowledged the slow adoption of the technology, adding that his company’s target was to ultimately reach one billion people in VR. This goal requires a premium, standalone VR device that offers free movement. The enterprise has not yet been able to realize this. But the Oculus Go certainly makes for a budget VR experience.
Project Santa Cruz
During the event, the company’s head of VR, Hugo Barra, also elaborated on Project Santa Cruz, Facebook’s prototype high-end device for movement-tracking without the need for tethering to a computer, or the placing of sensors around a home. Barra explained that developers would be sent devices to work with in the near future to come. Oculus Go is at present Facebook’s best hope in increasing VR use among the general public. The device will provide more enhanced visuals in comparison with the current Gear VR, but will unfortunately not live up to the premium VR experience provided by the Oculus Rift and Touch controllers.
AR or VR?
Zuckerberg furthermore added that VR was not yet mainstream. “A lot of them seem maybe too crazy or complex at the start,” he told delegates. “Some people say that VR is isolating and anti-social. I actually think it’s the opposite. We all have limits to our reality. Opening up more of those experiences to more of us – that’s not isolating, that’s freeing.”
Many are looking more towards augmented reality, rather than virtual. Leader in AR is Microsoft with its HoloLens. Once this technology further improves, some believe it will offer so much more than VR. “I think one of the problems with VR as a mass-market proposition is that you’re unaware of what’s happening around you in reality,” said analyst Delaney. “So you’ll only wear one of these things in situations where you feel secure about that. Largely, for consumers, that means only at home or in the car [as a passenger]. So although VR can be connected to mobile networks, it is not really mobile.”