As part of Oculus’s Connect 3 conference last week, the company announced a number of innovations, including a new VR standard that will be completely independent and wireless. From now on, you won’t need an ox of a computer in order to enjoy the VR experience. Here are the four most significant announcements from that event.
1. An independent and powerful VR kit
Oculus’s current VR kit, which is aimed mainly at gamers, requires quite a powerful computer. While the new Rift headset displayed by Oculus may be less powerful, they are much less unwieldy and can be used independently. The new standard will work a lot like Microsoft’s HoloLens, using built-in location tracking technology based on computer vision that makes it possible to follow movement without the addition of a camera sensor like you see with the Vive today.
As of now, Oculus’s new VR headset is still only a prototype, and it is unclear when (or if) they will be available. Nevertheless, the very fact that the major companies realize that the current design and requirements for their VR kits are very unrealistic is encouraging. The idea is to eventually make the same advanced Rift version capabilities that currently require connecting to a powerful (and downright expensive) computer available for Gear VR-style standards. From the looks of it, it would appear that Oculus got the message and is really headed in the direction of more wireless VR.
2. Coming soon: Even $500 computers will support the VR kit
Good news for those of you eager to update your Oculus VR kit, but who lack a computer with strong enough hardware. Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe has announced that the VR kit will now also be relevant for less powerful and high-end computers. Oculus’s previous recommendations for its VR headset came with specs that included a NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD 290 screen card (or better), an Intel i5-4590 processor, 8 GB or more RAM, an HDMI 1.3 outlet, and two USB 3.0 outlets (a specification that will on the low end cost about $1,000). The company is now presenting a refreshing change in kit engineering that will make it possible to provide a smooth VR experience even with computers costing $500.
In order to make the VR experience truly engaging, the software should be run at a speed of 90 frames per second, a specification requiring considerable processing power. In order to make it easier on your computer and your wallet, Oculus has developed two systems: Timewarp and Spacewarp. With these two systems, which are built into the Oculus firmware, synthetic frames can be created and used to display the image smoothly even when the hardware behind the scenes can’t really handle the load.
3. Oculus Touch
Oculus’s Touch wireless handheld remote controls, are used to control the VR experience or hand movements during the game. They are designed to solve a problem well-known to VR users: the “loss of hands.” With these remotes, you can move hands in games, pick up a pistol off the floor, load it, and shoot it more intuitively and comfortably. The Touch controller also includes a vibration mechanism that will enable you to feel each shot and interaction with the virtual world.
During the event, Oculus announced that the remote controls, which will also include an additional tracking camera sensor, can be purchased by advance order from next week for $199. In order to enjoy an even more impressive experience, for $79 more you can also add a third sensor. The remotes are slated for delivery this December.
4. Wireless headphones
Oculus wants to offer VR users a new way to listen to audio. They are offering an InEar headphones kit that can be used instead of the OnEar headphones coming with the device’s built-in kit. The headphones can be purchased for $49, and will also be available for delivery this December.