Standalone VR headsets are quickly becoming an important part of the industry, and Oculus might have an update on its take on the tech later this week.
Variety reports that Facebook’s VR subsidiary is working on a new prototype for its standalone headset, codenamed Santa Cruz, which debuted at Oculus Connect 3 late last year. That much is obvious, but the report cites a source close to the project in saying that the new prototype, dubbed ‘Monterey’, could be shown off at Facebook’s F8 developer conference this week.
This year’s F8 is being held on April 18th and 19th at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California. Currently there are eight VR-focused sessions listed for the event, more than any other previous F8, but none of the announced talks hint towards any new announcements. Facebook does have two keynote talks planned for 10:00 am on both days, though, so it’s possible that Mark Zuckerberg and co will make some reveals relating to Oculus there.
We got to try Santa Cruz for ourselves last year. While clearly a prototype, the standalone device featured tether-free positional tracking on a VR headset that didn’t require a mobile phone. Everything needed is onboard. There’s no clear idea of when we could see a full product made out of the device, though rivals like Intel are already prepping their own standalone devices for this year.
While VR has only played a relatively small part at previous F8s, Facebook has made some significant reveals like the new social features that use the Oculus Rift. Since last year Oculus has become more tightly integrated with its parent company; its new leader, Hugo Barra, isn’t the CEO of Oculus but instead of the VP of VR at Facebook. We’ve also seen the Facebook 360 app launch on Gear VR and seen Facebook accounts more deeply associated with Oculus accounts.
If VR does have a much bigger presence this year then we wonder what it might mean for Oculus Connect, the team’s own VR developer conference that traditionally runs towards the end of the year. This year’s iteration hasn’t been announced yet — and likely wouldn’t be for another few months — but is it possible for it to co-exist with F8? We’ll have a clearer answer later this week.