Can Facebook’s Newly Announced Oculus Go Finally Make VR Mainstream?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been passionate in positioning VR as the world’s next major mainstream technology after Facebook paid more than $2 billion to obtain the VR startup Oculus in 2014. Since then Oculus and Facebook have been hard at work developing their first standalone headset, the Oculus Go, which Zuckerberg officially announced Wednesday. With a release date predicted for “early 2018,” Facebook hopes that the Oculus Go will prove to be a good median between the more expensive $400 Oculus Rift and $100 smartphone VR headsets like Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Daydream.

Unlike Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s DayDream, the Oculus Go does not to require a smartphone, cables or wires to operate. And its $200 dollar price tag will make it more accessible to the masses than the $400 dollar Oculus Rift, which must be connected to a separate computer to work.

Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell said that one of the biggest obstacles preventing VR from becoming more mainstream is its price. “The cheaper we make these devices, the more folks are going to jump in,” he said. “If we could offer a device at $99, or exaggerate it all the way down to free, we think people would be jumping into VR in a heartbeat.”

The Oculus Go is reported to feature am LCD display with a 2560×1440 resolution, which the head of Oculus, Hig Barra, said will help lower the screen door effect that you can get with VR and help reduce lag when you move or when the images change on the display.

The Go’s also set to have built-in speakers that Oculus says will give you a sense of depth when using the headset. However, if you really want to use your own headphones, Oculus says that they’ve incorporated a 3.5mm audio jack into the Go as well. The headset also is designed with a new lightweight fabric that Oculus says should make it more breathable and cause less sweat than other VR headsets.

In regards to the apps available for the Oculus Go, it’s reported that everything available in the Samsung Gear VR library is available to the Go. However, there was no mention if the Go will be able to handle everything the Rift does — we suspect not. It could be a setback in Oculus Go's effor to push VR into mainstream if the selection of content available on the Go doesn't deliver that high quality VR experience that everyone wants. There is no word on specs like graphic performance on the Go or what is powering it.

Zuckerberg has also been teasing a unreleased prototype for Oculus’ second standalone VR headset that’s been codenamed "Santa Cruz." The Santa Cruz VR promise to give the public new positionally tracked controllers that uses up to six-degrees of motion.

Watch Zuckerberg’s speech at Oculus Connect 2017, where he introduced the Oculus Go.

In the video, Zuckerberg says he has a goal of getting one billion people using VR, and Nate Mitchell is optimistic that Facebook and Oculus can make that become a reality; it just may take a little while.

Sean Berry
Sean Berry
Sean Berry is Videomaker's managing editor.

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