Even though the first ever Oculus Rift launched earlier this year, Facebook’s already hard at work on its sequel. Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed off the second version of the Rift virtual reality headset during a presentation in California.
The headset looks a lot like the version you already know — it’s a black set of goggles with headphones built in. There is, however, one crucial difference: no wires!
Zuckerberg called this new headset, which is still in the prototype/demo stage and not ready for primetime, a middle ground between the super high-end Oculus Rift headset and smartphone-powered Gear VR that Oculus created in partnership with Samsung.
More than just ditching the (lengthy, intrusive) cables, this new standalone Oculus Rift can handle tracking in an entirely new way.
It sounds boring, but in VR, tracking is crucial — the headset needs to know where in the actual world you are so that it represents the virtual world accurately to you. This is usually handled by using some form of external tracking device — a camera, in the case of Oculus Rift. But with this new standalone device, Zuckerberg said Oculus has figured out how to track your head without any separate device.
In the short demo shown, one user explored a standard Oculus Rift demo — a floating city that’s going through an emergency scenario — and he was able to move his head in any direction, all while being tracked from within the standalone headset.
Doing this without a PC attached, which is required for using the Oculus Rift, is a major step forward. And doing this without having to buy a Samsung phone is another big change. There were no details given on a release date or price for the new version of the Rift.
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