Facebook wants to bring high-end virtual reality to the masses, and it's going to do this with an affordable new headset which focuses on social gaming.
That is the mission statement of social network boss Mark Zuckerberg, who revealed the new Oculus Quest at the fifth annual Oculus Connect developer conference. Facebook has owned VR firm Oculus since acquiring it in 2014 for $2 billion.
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The Oculus Quest joins the entry-level oculus Go and high-end Oculus Rift, while taking the best features of both (the Go's wireless design and the Rift's power), to make what Zuckerberg described as "the foundation of a new generation of VR".
Despite the lofty claims - and initial feedback from those who have tried Quest is positive - Facebook knows it has an uphill battle ahead to take VR mainstream. Zuckerberg joked at the launch event how he was well behind his target of getting one billion people using VR - a target he had set at the same event a year ago. Zuckerberg admitted Facebook and Oculus has reached less than one percent of that target to date.
Facebook wants to make VR social with gaming-focused Oculus QuestOculus
Previously known as Project Santa Cruz, the Oculus Quest will cost $399 - about the same as the recently-discounted Rift - but is claimed to produce high-quality games without being tethered to a powerful gaming computer, and with no external sensors.
While the Rift produces high-end VR games and other experiences, the user's freedom to walk and move around within the virtual world is restricted by power and data cables attached to the headset.
The Quest solves this by being completely wireless. It ships with a new pair of motion controllers similar to the Oculus Touch currently on sale, and uses four wide-angle cameras to map the wearer's surroundings and let them move in six degrees of freedom and walk through virtual spaces.
Resolution is the same as the Oculus Go, meaning 1600 x 1440 pixels per eye, but the newer model adds lens spacing adjustment to help offer a better fit. The Quest also benefits from improved internal speakers with more immersive sound and deeper bass, Oculus says. The headset is powered by a Snapdragon 835 mobile processor from Qualcomm.
Facebook claims the Oculus Quest can produce "Rift-quality" experiences and is "made for games". To bolster this claim, Oculus published a trailer, below, suggesting how the Quest will provide the next big 'wow' moment in video game history, following on from arcades, home consoles, and online gaming.
Hugo Barra, head of VR at Facebook, said: "We are going to invest significantly in this new platform". As such, the Quest will work with over 50 titles when it goes on sale in the spring of 2019.