SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is off to a slow start in his mission to bring virtual reality to the masses, so perhaps it’s appropriate his company’s next VR headset will be called Quest.
The headset from Facebook’s Oculus division will be a stand-alone device that won’t require a smartphone or a connection to a personal computer to create artificial worlds.
The Quest won’t be available until next spring, although Zuckerberg unveiled the new headset at an Oculus conference held Wednesday in San Jose, California.
Priced at $399, the Quest will cost twice as much as the less powerful, stand-alone Oculus Go released earlier this year. But it’s the same price as the Oculus Rift that tethers users to a PC.
Here’s what Oculus had to say Wednesday:
We’re excited to usher in the next era of VR gaming with the introduction of Oculus Quest, our first all-in-one VR gaming system.
Oculus Quest will launch in Spring 2019 for $399 USD. Offering six degrees of freedom and Touch controllers, Oculus Quest makes it easy to jump right into the action—all with no PC, no wires, and no external sensors. We have over 50 titles in the works, including some of your favorite Rift games like Robo Recall, The Climb, and Moss. With the introduction of Oculus Quest, we’ve completed our first generation of best-in-class VR headsets. Oculus Go remains the easiest and most affordable way to get into VR, while Oculus Rift leverages the power of your PC to push the limits of what’s possible. Thanks to Oculus Quest, we’re now able to combine the best of both worlds and welcome even more people into the VR community.
Visit oculus.com to learn more. This year’s Oculus Connect is all about celebrating how far the VR industry has come in the past five years—and looking ahead to an even brighter future—so it’s no surprise that we’d be revisiting Project Santa Cruz. Originally unveiled at OC3 in 2016, Santa Cruz was the very first prototype of VR’s standalone form factor.
No HDMI cables connecting you to a PC, no external sensors, no need to drop in a phone—just put on a completely untethered headset and be instantly transported to any number of virtual worlds. Fast forward to 2017, when we introduced two positionally-tracked controllers at OC4 for a glimpse of the magic of hand presence delivered by Touch delivered in a standalone form factor. Although we started off building an entirely new input device for Santa Cruz, we got some great feedback from the developer community, encouraging us to use the same input as Rift.
It’s important that we make it easy for devs to build for both platforms to ensure the long-term health of the VR industry, and we’ll do more to unify our content ecosystems in the months and years ahead.
Zuckerberg eventually hopes to have 1 billion people using virtually reality, but he acknowledged Wednesday that Facebook may not have even reached 1 percent of that goal more than four years after paying $2 billion to buy Oculus.
That implies fewer than 10 million people are using Oculus products, and recent data from the research firm International Data Corp. shows the still-nascent VR market has been losing momentum.
Shipments of VR headsets dropped 34 percent from last year during the April-June period, according to IDC. But the Oculus Go and a copycat, budget-priced headset from China’s Xiaomi fared reasonably well, IDC said, with 212,000 devices shipped. That was even though they weren’t available for the entire second quarter.
For all of 2018, IDC predicts shipments of VR headsets and devices built for a similar technology known as augmented reality will increase 31 percent from last year to 4.2 million.
That’s still a relatively small number for a form of technology that has been drawing major investments from Facebook and other industry heavyweights such as Google, Microsoft, Sony, Samsung and Apple.
As he was last year when he announced the Oculus Go, Zuckerberg is counting on the Quest to widen VR’s appeal. VR so far has attracted people interested in playing video games on them, but Zuckerberg believes it’s only a matter of time before outside developers introduce other applications that will help lure people into buy one of Oculus’ three different headsets to enter artificial realms.
“This is the basic roadmap,” Zuckerberg said after showing off the Quest. “This is what we need to do for VR to succeed and get to the future we want.”