Report: Oculus Could Show Updated Standalone VR Headset At F8

by Jamie Feltham • April 17th, 2017

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.

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What's your reaction?
  • Cool. Can’t wait for VR to go properly wireless, and also completely PC free too.

    • Xilence

      Resolution, Foveated Rendering, Latency, and better inside-out tracking are also as important. Wireless is going to be in the 2nd gen by default though I’d think.

  • Doctor Bambi

    My excitement for this device has steadily grown since they first revealed it at OC3. I can’t wait to see the progress they’ve made over the last year. I don’t know if it’s too impractical, but I hope, hope, hope they’ve figured some kind of positional hand tracking solution for this device whether that be computer vision al la Magic Leap style, or an Oculus Touch-esque device that perhaps uses something like magnetic based tracking.

  • wheeler

    I really wonder if there’s actually going to be a market for the smartphone quality experiences these standalone headsets will be able to push. I can understand VR add-ons to smartphones like GearVR (even though I’ve only used it a few times just for the novelty of it) because the cost of the hardware is largely covered and it integrates directly with a ubiquitous software environment most users are familiar with (making it accessible to a very large market). They’re obviously not targeting high end users (unless there’s an optional wireless add-on that allows one to use their PC as a display input, but I still have doubts about the quality of inside-out tracking and how motion controllers could be integrated). They’re also not targeting casual gamers as they’re just going to buy the VR add-on for their respective console.

    Or maybe they’re targeting a completely different market? Facebook users that want a stupid simple way to enter the “facebook metaverse” and play Farmville VR or whatever? Still seems like a smartphone add-on would be more appropriate for this scenario. In any case I don’t really like the fact that you have companies like Facebook and Samsung going off and rolling their own isolated environments (encompassing both hardware and software). It’s cool technology, but it sounds like a lot of fragmentation that will ultimately result in dead end platforms and wasted resources.

    • David Dewis

      I think they’ll be great as an educational tool in schools. Every kid grabs a headset, and is taken through a scenario. I also think it will be great at parties where you can quickly and easily show it off without worrying about wires or having to take a PC with you.

    • Malkmus

      This isn’t “smartphone quality” VR though. This is 6DOF tracking and was used to demo one of the Rift experiences from Dreamdeck.

  • Anthony Kenneth Steele

    Standalone VR is very feasible when you consider that the samsung galaxy is s8 is about 3/4 as powerful as a ps4

    • Mo Last

      Is it that powerful???

      • Anthony Kenneth Steele

        A pc equivalent of a ps4 has an antutu benchmark score of of 250’000-275’000, the galaxy s8 has an antutu score of 203’000

        • Mo Last

          So in theory, can it easily play PS3 games on it?

    • JMB

      Really? Do you have a source on that?