Oculus seeks to bridge the gap between PC and mobile VR with a mid-level headset.
Oculus is all up in the news lately. The Facebook-owned VR manufacturer shut down its Oculus Stories department and revealed a ridiculous $399 Rift & Touch bundle sale running throughout the entire summer.
Now the company is teasing brand new hardware in the form of a mid-level VR headset that, while not as powerful as the Rift, still manages to ditch the smartphone. Code-named “Pacific” by an undisclosed source via Bloomberg Technology, this upcoming model looks to fill the gap between expensive, PC-driven VR headsets and cheaper mobile-powered versions. The idea is to focus on a standalone system that sacrifices power and cables in favor of a convenience and wireless functionality.
Much like Oculus’ Samsung Gear VR, according to the report, this mysterious new version will include a wireless remote and a wide selection of games and experiences accessible via a VR interface. Unfortunately like the Gear VR this new headset will also lack positional tracking, meaning there’ll be no support for any room-scale functionality.
However the similarities begin to end when you crack open the hood. According to insiders, the headset will feature hardware superior to the Gear VR, including a Snapdragon mobile chip from Qualcomm. All the meat and potatoes are housed inside the device itself, ditching the smartphone in favor of a lighter and more convenient concept. This indicates that the secret headset will feature its own pair of display screens as well.
Reports indicate that developers will begin being briefed on the new platform in October, just enough time to pump out an acceptable amount of VR-compatible titles by its release. The “Pacific” will officially launch sometime in 2018, all for the price of just $200 according to the people familiar with the project.
An Oculus Spokesman provided the following statement to TechCrunch in regards to the matter: “We don’t have a product to unveil at this time, however we can confirm that we’re making several significant technology investments in the standalone VR category. This is in addition to our commitment to high-end VR products like Oculus Rift and mobile phone products like Gear VR.”
This news comes on the heels of the Rift & Touch $200 price-cut, further indicating Oculus’ dedication towards putting virtual reality in the hands of anyone and everyone. Lets not forget about the company’s “Santa Cruz” project as well. Revealed back in 2016 during the third-annual Oculus keynote, the still-hidden prototype headset teased a standalone wireless experience matching the power of the Rift.
These changes towards cheaper VR could also point towards the companies struggle to get their headsets off the shelves. Last October we saw that the HTC Vive had a considerable market share advantage compared to the Oculus Rift, although this data was compiled via the Steam Hardware Survey so you may want to take everything with a grain of salt. Regardless, there’s no doubt that Oculus hasn’t been in the best position as of late and these new ventures into alternative virtual reality options could be there attempt at regaining some of their ground.
Whatever the reasoning, I think we can all agree that more VR options at cheaper prices is good for just about everyone. The best way to ensure VR & AR’s success is to get into the hands of as many individuals as possible. After all, it only takes one taste of the magic to get hooked.