Oculus is developing a new Rift headset with GearVR's mobility [updated]

VR hardware is currently prohibitive, and Oculus knows.

During the keynote this morning at Oculus Connect 3, Mark Zuckerberg got on stage and talked about how important VR was to the future of computing and social. Zuckerberg then spoke about hardware and indicated that there was a need for a 3rd category of VR hardware.

Currently the primary forms of VR come in two flavors: those that are cheap and use your mobile phone for a basic—essentially low quality—VR experience, and a fully tethered system like the Rift. Zuckerberg said that Oculus and Facebook are developing something that was going to fit in between, delivering the same quality as the Rift, yet be as mobile and easy to use as a Samsung Gear VR.

Although Zuckerberg said he didn't yet have hardware to show off, this was an important announcement. Right now, to experience high quality VR, you need to have a powerful gaming PC and accept dealing with wires and sensors. 

The whole setup and cost of VR keeps it out of the mainstream, and Zuckerberg and co. know that to get wide adoption, Oculus needs to develop a system that is easy to use and affordable.

No word was given on when this new device would come out.

Oculus also announced that the Rift would now be fully supported by PCs that have a GTX 960 level GPU. Brendan Iribe, Oculus' CEO, spoke about a new technology the company calls Spacewarp, which essentially fills in the frames. Spacewarp sounds a bit like the motion smoothing effect seen on TVs, but it's probably a bit more complex than that. On lower-end machines, games will be rendered at a fix 45 fps, and Spacewarp synthesizes every other frame to give you a hard-locked 90 fps. The 90 fps goal is the magic number for maintaining a smooth experience in VR.

Update: Oculus posted a brief video of the new headset, codenamed Santa Cruz. It's completely untethered, which is one of the required pillars of what a good VR experience should be. Iribe mentioned in his keynote that cutting the cord is something the company was working on. Santa Cruz is the first step into this direction.


Tuan is the Editor-in-Chief of Maximum PC, and loves all things tech. He's been building PCs and ruffling feathers in the industry for 20 years, and isn't afraid to call out bad products and services. In fact, it's very common to hear the words "this is shit" escape his lips. If you want to know if something is "Kick-Ass" or not, email or tweet him.
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