At the Oculus Connect event Facebook, the parent company of Oculus, once again showed off their stand-alone VR headset the Santa Cruz.
The headset is completely untethered, requiring neither a PC or a phone. The headset uses the same inside-out camera-based 6 degrees of freedom tracking as Microsoft’s own Windows Mixed Reality devices, and would also have LED-based motion controllers visually tracked by the headset, just like WMR, and while VR content would still have to be less complex with less polygons, Facebook VR chief Hugo Barra said it would offer a “very similar experiences to what they get on Rift.”
While most would still expect phone-quality VR from a stand-alone device, Adi Robertson from the Verge, who tried out the headset twice, reports a much better experience.
Technically, I got two demos with Santa Cruz: a hangout session with Oculus’ dog-like alien “mascot” Bogo, and a shootout in the Rift’s Wild West gunslinging game Dead and Buried. Both felt almost indistinguishable from using a Rift. I suffered a couple of tiny glitches — the ground seemed indescribably “off” for one split second when I was picking up a stick, and my hands would drift if I put them at the very edge of my peripheral vision — but for any natural motion the games required, I was fine.
The headset is still in the prototype phase, with Barra saying Facebook will reveal more about the Santa Cruz in a few months, and that developer versions will become available soon after.
They will clearly not, however, hit the market anytime this year, allowing WMR headsets some breathing space this holiday season, but I suspect when consumers are faced with spending $300-$400 for a WMR headset plus the need for a powerful PC to drive this, the untethered and uncomplicated device from Oculus will win out in the end.
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