If you thought VR headsets were too pricey, think again. Facebook will launch the standalone Oculus Go early next year for just $199.
The company is also permanently cutting the price of the current Oculus Rift; get it and a Touch controller for $399.
"We want to get a billion people in virtual reality," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Wednesday during the company's Oculus Connect 4 developer event in San Jose.
Oculus Go doesn't require a PC or a smartphone. Instead, it "comes with an orientation-tracked controller…supports 3DOF [degrees of freedom] head tracking, has best-in-class optics, a wide field of view, and fantastic ergonomics," according to Oculus, which also tipped "a high-resolution fast-switch LCD screen [that] has a dramatic effect on visual clarity and reduces screen door effect."
That LCD screen has a resolution of 2,560-by-1,440 pixels, which will produce sharper text and clearer images, according to Hugo Barra, Facebook's VP of VR.
"We haven't seen this kind of visual clarity in VR before. It's awesome," Barra said during the event. The lightweight Oculus Go also has built-in speakers so you don't need headphones, but there's a 3.5mm headphone jack for private listening.
The Go is compatible with content available for Samsung's Gear VR. "Whether you build with Unity or Unreal, or code directly to our Oculus Mobile SDK, you can target both Oculus Go and Gear VR with a single application," Oculus said.
For now, Oculus is only accepting sign-ups from developers who "have a project in development" that would benefit from Go; supply is limited, but they can sign up here.
The Oculus Go is still not as powerful an experience as you might get on a PC-tethered device, but Facebook is working on it. Last year, we got a glimpse of the standalone PC VR experience, dubbed Santa Cruz, and an update demoed today showed off 6DOF and hand presence with two positionally tracked controllers.
"This is an important, industry-first milestone that brings the magic and incredible design expertise of Touch into a completely standalone experience," according to Oculus.
"Getting the infrared LEDs on our new Santa Cruz controllers to work with the sensors used for inside-out tracking on the headset was a significant computer vision, design, and engineering problem. This is a milestone we're proud of. By using four ultra-wide sensors, we achieved a large controller tracking volume, allowing for natural and unrestricted movement."
Also for developers, Oculus announced new, customizable avatars, new safety tools, and multi-view.