Facebook is looking forward to working on a new virtual reality product which is assumedly more progressive than the Samsung Gear VR, but will not require any wired connections to a laptop or a desktop, exactly the way the Oculus Rift works.
The Chief Executive Officer of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg announced at the Oculus Connect Conference that was held in San Jose, California, that the company feels there might be a sweet spot in between these two products to create a new device. However, he cautioned the developers to not be very excited about the announcement as the product still is not ready for launch.
Facebook has always maintained that its mission is to make the world a more connected place. By focusing on this aspect and by working on different platforms, Facebook is trying to enable more useful and entertaining personal experiences. And this is where Oculus comes into play, whose mission is to make the users experience the impossible.
Oculus builds technology for Virtual Reality like the Oculus Rift headset, which when worn by the user will create an entirely immersive environment like that of a game or a far away place or a movie scene, which will be generated by a computer.
There was a video played at the conference which showed a man wearing the prototype of the proposed device and was shown to be walking freely without having the device attached to any cord. Be that as it may, details about how the product will work were not elaborated. The company mentioned that it will concentrate on immersive gaming, will accelerate the huge plans of Oculus. The Oculus Rift is a highly foreseen feature in the gaming community and has garnered a lot of interest of the developers to build this platform. Oculus will achieve these goals by working independently from within Facebook and will focus on building their VR products by making partnerships to support more games in the community.
Facebook has said that though the new device is still in its developmental stages, the company is definitely making progress with Nvidia and with Advanced Micro Devices so that the cheaper computers can be paired with the Oculus Rift. For example, a computer which is cyber powered with an AMD graphic chip to be used with the Rift will have its prices starting from $499 (approx. Rs. 33,000). The company also announced that the Oculus Touch hand controllers will start to be shipped from December and it can also be pre-ordered starting from 10th October 2016 for a price of $199 (approx. Rs. 13,300).
Facebook also showed that the avatars can be customized to present an image of a person’s own look as in real life so that the users can have their own identity in VR. The avatars are capable of reading the expressions and the hand movements with an aim to bestow a sense of social existence as they interact in the virtual world with the other avatars.
Socializing the Virtual Way
The CEO of the Facebook said that social software is the next step towards Virtual Reality. Oculus from Facebook will now allow the users to have ‘rooms’ so that they can hang out with their other avatar friends and can just talk, watch movies, and play games. He also mentioned that Virtual Reality is the perfect platform where the people can be put first because of the aspect of presence. It makes the users feel like they are actually present in the other place with other people and also create environments like studying in a classroom or consulting a doctor or playing a game by just putting the goggles and sitting at home.
So far, Oculus has spent almost $250 million (approx. Rs. 1,670 crores) on the developers of the VR experiences and is planning to pledge another $250 million also. Almost $10 million will be spent specifically on the educational experiences.
Facebook also announced Carmel, a browser which will allow the users to surf the web in the VR mode. Also, new earphones were announced by the company which will provide better VR sound quality and will be sold separately at a cost of $49.