In its continued effort to take virtual reality mainstream, Facebook has announced Oculus Go - a standalone headset that will be released in 2018.

Mark Zuckerberg said the device, priced at $199, would be the “most accessible VR experience ever”.

Sales of the company’s VR hardware have been slow since launching the first Oculus Rift headset in March 2016.

"If VR doesn't go mass market at this price point, I think we can conclude that it never will,” said John Delaney, an analyst with IDC.

The existing budget way to get Facebook's VR is the Samsung Gear VR at $129 - but that requires a high-end Samsung smartphone in order to work.

Speaking at Facebook’s yearly virtual reality developers conference in San Jose, Mr Zuckerberg acknowledged the slow adoption of the technology to date. But he said his company’s goal was that one day, it would get one billion people into VR.

To get there, the company needs to create a premium, standalone VR device that offers free movement. It hasn’t managed that yet - the new Oculus Go should still be regarded as a budget VR experience.

But the company’s new head of VR, Hugo Barra, also shared more details about Project Santa Cruz, Facebook’s prototype high-end device that will offer movement-tracking without the need for tethering to a computer, or the placing of sensors around a home.

Many had hoped Project Santa Cruz would get a public release date, having first been announced at this event last year. Facebook’s new head of VR, Hugo Barra, would only divulge that developers would be sent devices to work with within the next 12 months.
Until then, Oculus Go is Facebook’s biggest hope in stepping up the adoption of virtual reality among the general public.

The device will be sent to developers to start building with in November this year. It will offer better visuals than the current Gear VR, but drops well short of the premium VR experience offered by the Oculus Rift and Touch controllers.



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