Zuckerberg announces $199 Oculus Go as "sweet spot" standalone headset

Zuckerberg announces $199 Oculus Go as

Facebook has unveiled a stand-alone virtual reality headset created to extend the appeal of the company's Oculus technology to the masses.

Audi is one of the launch partners, which is using Oculus For Business to build VR showrooms where you can configure a vehicle and actually walk around it before you buy.

Oculus took a minute to show off the latest version of its Santa Cruz prototype standalone VR headset.

It's compatible with mobile apps and content produced for Samsung Gear VR, the smartphone that's optimized for Oculus.

Details on how much better an experience the Go would be over a smartphone-powered headset were unclear, but Oculus lead Hugo Barra said onstage that it was "hands-down the easiest way to get into VR". "The high quality experience that doesn't tether anybody to a PC". You can invite friends to visit and check out your Home, of course, and Oculus says it's looking into other ways you can hang with your virtual buddies in the future.

The Go headset is part of Zuckerberg's plans to "get 1 billion people in virtual reality", although the CEO did not give a date when that would happen. The display is a fast-switch LCD screen with a resolution of 2560×1440 pixels, and it comes with integrated headphones. That seems to indicate the Oculus Go is running on some flavor of Android, but that's unconfirmed right now. Widespread release will likely lag behind by a year or more, judging from the gaps between the release of the Oculus Rift DK1 in March 2013, the DK2 in July 2014, and the retail Rift headset in May 2015. "If we're going to get a billion people in VR, we have to work on both affordability and quality", Zuckerberg said. The device features same lenses as on the Rift and is bundled with a small controller that is similar to one available for Gear VR. Zuckerberg announced it would launch "early next year" at a price of $199.

But the Go is really just a stepping stone to what Oculus has hinted at before: Project Santa Cruz. Facebook is still trying to bring virtual reality into the mainstream, and hopes the new headset will help.

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