Fri, Oct 13, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Oculus unveils standalone VR headset

UNTETHERED:Despite virutal reality headsets showing sluggish sales, CEO Mark Zuckerberg stressed Facebook’s commitment to the future of virtual reality

AFP, SAN JOSE, California

Facebook Inc chief executive Mark Zuckerberg speaks on Wednesday during the Oculus Connect 4 product launch event in San Jose, California.

Photo: Bloomberg

Facebook Inc chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday unveiled a new Oculus virtual-reality headset untethered from computers, as part of a vision to bring the new technology to the masses.

Oculus Go headsets are to be priced at US$199 when they begin shipping early next year, Zuckerberg said during a keynote presentation at an annual developers’ conference in the Silicon Valley city of San Jose.

Zuckerberg touted the Oculus Go as the first product in a “sweet spot” between virtual experiences using smartphones and those handled by powerful desktop computers.

“It’s an all-new, standalone headset that doesn’t require you to snap in a phone or plug in a cable,” Zuckerberg said.

The Oculus Go uses internal cameras, sensors and software to track movements that are translated into corresponding motion in virtual worlds rendered in headsets.

Facebook stressed its commitment to virtual reality, despite a less than stellar adoption of headsets such as the Oculus Rift, which need to be plugged into computers.

“We want to get a billion people in virtual reality,” Zuckerberg said. “The road ahead won’t be easy, but virtual reality will change the way we see the world and will make all of our lives a whole lot better.”

Oculus on Wednesday lopped US$100 off the price of a package bundling Rift headset with touch controllers, citing successful discounts during a summer-long promotion.

The Rift-plus-Touch bundle price was reduced to US$399, said Hugo Barra, who recently left Chinese electronics firm Xiaomi Corp (小米) to lead virtual reality efforts at Facebook.

The new Rift price is priced cheaper than competing HTC headsets and on par with similarly bundled PlayStation VR gear.

“We want to continue getting VR into more people’s hands, so we’re permanently lowering the price of Rift,” Oculus said in a blog post, adding that “more people in VR means more people to play, connect, and share with.”

Oculus also provided a look at progress being made on a “Santa Cruz” stand-alone virtual reality headset prototype revealed at the company’s developers’ conference held in San Jose last year.

The ability to track hand-held controllers was added to the Santa Cruz, letting people reach into virtual worlds and interact in what Oculus described as an “important, industry-first milestone.”

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