Nine months after rumors first started flying that Facebook was working on a virtual reality product that’s cheaper than the Oculus Rift new reports say the company is preparing to unleash the standalone device next year.
Because not everyone wants to fork over $499 or so for the Oculus Rift, Facebook wants to sell a product that has more widespread appeal. Until now, all we knew was that the device wouldn’t require a PC or smartphone to use it.
What’s The Buzz?
Price: According to insiders who got chatty with Bloomberg, Facebook’s new offering would sell for as little as $200. This puts it in a veritable sweet spot between heavy hitters like the Rift (around $499) and the Samsung Gear VR ($130).
Design: The new VR hardware — currently codenamed “Pacific” — would be more compact than the Rift, and lighter than Samsung’s Gear VR headset, one source said. This could all change, of course, but Facebook wants users to be able to access VR content anywhere, just like they would on a table or phone. It can also be controlled by a wireless remote.
Content: Like other Oculus products, the standalone headset will be ideal for immersive gaming, watching video, and using social media, sources told Bloomberg. That content will likely come from outside studios, after Facebook shut down its Oculus Film arm in May.
However, the device won’t include positional tracking technology — which allows gadgets to know where the user is in space. That’s a good thing to have if you’re say, navigating a virtual maze. Basically, it keeps you from bumping into the walls in your house. A future version of the device will have that capability, one of Bloomberg’s insiders says.
Availability: Facebook is hoping to get content makers in the loop by October in order to update the product’s app store with compatible games upon launch. To that end, the new handset will not be ready by the holidays: It’s expected to ship in 2018.
An Oculus spokesman told Bloomberg that it doesn’t have a new product to announce right now, but “can confirm we’re making several significant technology investments in the standalone VR category.”