Oculus Connect Unveils Wireless Headset, Social VR, Web VR

At the third Oculus Connect, the company revealed Santa Cruz, a new prototype headset that doesn’t require external cameras or towers to move through digital space. The cameras detect real motion, which matches the virtual environment. Also shown was a new social VR experience that allows the user to hang out with friends, who appear as icons, in a real-world 360-degree scene. Oculus debuted the ReactVR JavaScript framework for building WebVR experiences that will be able to run on Carmel, Oculus’ upcoming VR Web browser.

The Verge describes Santa Cruz with components “arranged around both the front and back of the headset, connected via a tape-like cable that runs around the side.” Santa Cruz mimicks “actual head and body motion extremely precisely,” with the “in-world view match[ing] the way” the user moves. It’s similar to an HTC Vive using a backpack PC … but without the PC or external setup.

oculus_santa_cruz_prototype

Graphical capabilities will improve, says Oculus, to a level “not too far from the Gear VR’s.” Next up, most likely, will be something like Touch controllers, “although calculating their motion accurately and making sure the cameras can detect them at all times, no matter where you move your head or hands, could present problems.”

“Standalone is a big new product category we’re going to now put a lot of energy behind for the next few years,” sayid chief exec Brendan Iribe.

TechCrunch reports that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated a social VR experience where users can gather as icons in a 360-degree real-world photo and “play games like chess or cards, sword fight with pre-made or DIY-drawn swords, or watch a giant TV screen together” or even take a phone call inside Facebook Messenger or a VR selfie instantly shared to Facebook.

“The experience … shows the potential for human connection in VR powered by Facebook and Oculus.” Facebook’s “social graph and social VR features … could become an important differentiator in a crowded market for headsets.” In 10 to 15 years, Zuckerberg hopes to have VR and AR integrated into regular glasses.

Last, according to TechCrunch, Oculus’ ReactVR JavaScript framework for building WebVR experiences will be able to run on Carmel, the “forthcoming Oculus VR Web browser.” Carmel will run on any Oculus device, allowing users to “browse the Web inside their VR headset and instantly play WebVR experiences.”

WebVR, a “nascent JavaScript API,” will “allow VR experiences to load directly from the Web without the need for an app download.” Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell “believes every company will eventually have a WebVR destination the same way they have websites and mobile apps.”

Related:
‘Blade Runner 2049,’ Disney Characters Coming to Oculus Virtual Reality Headsets, Variety, 10/6/16
Facebook and Oculus Commit $250M+ for VR Content, Diversity, Education, TechCrunch, 10/6/16
Everything Oculus Announced Today: Touch Controller Launch Date, Social VR, the VR Web, and More, VentureBeat, 10/6/16