Facebook will in 2018 be unveiling a new Oculus VR headset that will operate wirelessly and which is expected to be cheaper than current versions. The new Oculus headset is expected to cost $200 which is half the price of Oculus Rift. It will not be necessary to tether the upcoming Oculus headset to a computer or a smartphone as it will be a standalone.
According to sources the upcoming VR headset will be built for social networking, watching of videos and immersive gaming. While it will weigh less than the Gear VR headset developed by Samsung, it will be similar to the Rift. This will make it possible to use while travelling just like is the case with mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones.
During an Oculus developer conference held in 2016, Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive officer of Facebook observed that a headset that took the best features of both Oculus Rift and Gear VR would be a boon for the nascent virtual reality sector. A spokesperson for Oculus seemed to confirm that progress was being made on this front.
“We don’t have a product to unveil at this time, however we can confirm we’re making several significant technology investments in the standalone VR category,” said Alan Cooper, a spokesperson for Oculus.
The worldwide market for virtual reality headsets has remained tiny relative to other devices such as smart phones for quite some time. According to research conducted by IDC, in this year’s first quarter, 2.3 million VR headsets were shipped. In the same period smartphones numbering 347 million were shipped. Some of the reasons that have been cited as preventing mass adoption include insufficient content, pricey headsets and buggy hardware.
But with the rolling out of a second generation of virtual reality devices, things are beginning to change. In 2016 Sony unveiled the PlayStation VR headset which costs $500 and which taps the entertainment and gaming ecosystem of Sony. The headset managed to sell almost a million units.
Other technology firms which are developing their own standalone virtual reality headsets include Lenovo and HTC. The two Chinese firms use the Daydream OS of Google. Samsung, which utilizes the technology of Oculus, is also working on the same.
In terms of market share, Samsung has conquered 22% of the worldwide virtual reality headset market as per IDC. Sony and HTC then follow while Oculus comes in at fourth position with about 5% market share.