Over the past two years, VR technology has been adapted by over a couple million plus users. But the hardware i.e the VR headset has always been seen as a complimentary technology that required either a powerful gaming PC or a mobile phone to experience immersive content. But Facebook-owned Oculus is now working towards making the process simpler, so you wouldn’t have to go through these hassles to take a detour from reality.
Today, at the Oculus Connect 3 developer conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage to show us a prototype to the future of VR. Yes, the company is now working on a VR headset that not only maintains it standards in terms of processing power and image quality, but also allows you to move through digital space.
This prototype is called ‘Santa Cruz’ and it sits somewhere between the oh-so powerful Oculus Rift and the mobile Samsung Gear VR. But even after being wireless and standalone, it intros one of the key features essential for an immersive experience — positional tracking. This technology is what converts your digital world experience into real immersive VR one, as it allows you to traverse and walk about to see the space from any angle or viewpoint.
You might be thinking, why is this guy talking about position tracking on a standalone headset like it’s a miracle? Well, it kind-of is an incredibly big deal. Till date, position tracking has only been available on very high-end and expensive VR headsets, including the like of Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or the recently launched Playstation VR. Other tech behemoths like Intel and Qualcomm have also debuted their standalone VR headset prototype guidelines, but they haven’t gotten to building one yet. So, yeah, big deal.
In the brief video that was shown on stage, the VR headset appears to be a modified Rift with a new set of electronics and sensors embedded on the back side of the strap. This also includes four new wide-angle cameras, that’ll detect your real motion, embedded around the edges of the front of the headset. It will track all your actions in the real world and mimick them in the virtual experience.
While introducing the key technological aspects of the high-end VR headset in a mobile one, the company is laying immense focus on battery life. They don’t want you to have just a 15 minute warm-up session and then put the headset back to charge. No one would like that. The company is gunning for other competitors in the market, ahem! Google Daydream VR, and this new piece of hardware could essentially help it take the lead.
Zuck said that the development of this prototype was in very early stages, but it’s on the product roadmap shown off at the F8 roadmap earlier this year. It is the same roadmap which has emphasised the importance of AR/VR, machine learning and other technological innovations over the next ten years.