Category Archives: Vr

Shadow VR is the latest rival to the Oculus Quest

While we're all anticipating the launch of the Oculus Quest standalone VR headset in spring 2019, HTC's been busy pushing its very own Vive Focus into more markets — including the US and Europe as of today — while letting developers toy with its 6D…

The EFF’s VR experience helps users spot surveillance devices

With surveillance technology becoming ever more ubiquitous, it would be useful to know where to look for it. At least that's the thinking behind the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Spot the Surveillance VR experience. It puts users in a virtual neig…

Facebook reorganizes Oculus to further its long-term VR goals

Facebook isn't done shaking up its strategy for Oculus. TechCrunch has learned that Facebook reorganized its augmented and virtual reality teams this week to focus on areas of technical expertise, rather than specific products. The company acknowle…

Oculus co-founder: “Free is still not cheap enough” for current VR tech

Sebastian saw the light in the HTC/Valve Vive VR headset

We’ll still use any excuse to reuse this photo of Ars alumnus Sebastian Anthony reacting to VR. (credit: Sebastian Anthony)

Even since Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey revealed that the first consumer Oculus Rift headset would launch at $600, many industry watchers have been arguing that the high price of entry was keeping virtual reality from becoming a truly revolutionary mass-market technology. Though prices for VR headsets and compatible hardware have come down quite a bit since then, sales and usage stats are still struggling to climb out of the doldrums when compared with other tech products.

Now Luckey, who left Oculus in early 2017, argues in a recent blog post that there is no price low enough to convince a critical mass of people to regularly engage with existing VR headsets:

No existing or imminent VR hardware is good enough to go truly mainstream, even at a price of $0.00. You could give a Rift+PC to every single person in the developed world for free, and the vast majority would cease to use it in a matter of weeks or months.

I know this from seeing the results of large scale real-world market testing, not just my own imagination—hardcore gamers and technology enthusiasts are entranced by the VR of today, as am I, but stickiness drops off steeply outside of that core demographic. Free is still not cheap enough for most people, because cost is not what holds them back actively or passively.

Luckey goes on to estimate that current VR technology could attract an absolute ceiling of 50 million active users worldwide, and that only with significant industry effort. That’s a far cry from the 1 billion users Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg cites as his long-term goal for VR adoption.

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Oculus reconfirms “future version of Rift” amid PC cancellation rumors

An Oculus Rift photo montage from Oculus Connect.

Enlarge / An Oculus Rift photo montage from Oculus Connect. (credit: Kyle Orland)

Oculus has reaffirmed it’s working on a new version of its PC-based Rift hardware. That affirmation follows a report from TechCrunch suggesting the cancellation of the “Rift 2″ was behind the sudden departure of Oculus co-founder and former CEO Brendan Iribe, announced just yesterday.

Iribe, who stepped down as CEO to help lead Oculus’ PC/Rift division in late 2016, announced his departure from the company on Facebook Monday. Iribe said he was “deeply proud and grateful for” the work he’d done with Oculus and that “although we’re still far from delivering the magical smart glasses we all dream about, now they are nearly within our reach.” That said, leaving the company “will be the first real break I’ve taken in over 20 years,” he wrote. “It’s time to recharge, reflect, and be creative.”

The TechCrunch report, though, cites an unnamed source “close to the matter” in saying Iribe had actually grown frustrated with “fundamentally different views on the future of Oculus that grew deeper over time” and was concerned about a “race to the bottom” in terms of performance. That suggests Iribe may not have been happy with the increased focus on the recently announced Oculus Quest, a $400 standalone headset powered by a mobile system-on-a-chip.

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Oculus stops offering movies on Rift headsets due to low demand

It's a lousy time to be a fan of PC-based VR, apparently. Oculus told both customers and Variety that it's shutting down its movie store for Rift headset owners, leaving you to use third-party services (or watch on a regular screen) if you want to b…

Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe leaves Facebook

Add another person to the list of high-profile leaders departing Facebook. Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe is leaving both his own team and the social network. He didn't say where he was going next or why he was exiting, but he noted that this woul…

HTC’s standalone Vive Focus will soon get 6DoF VR controllers

While Facebook's Oculus Quest won't arrive until the spring of 2019, its seemingly beefier inside-out tracking plus 6DoF controllers may already pose a threat to HTC's Vive Focus, as well as to other Vive Wave-based standalone VR headsets — includin…

Video: What to expect from the Oculus Quest

Video edited by CNE. Click here for transcript.

When the consumer-level VR revolution came in 2016, it left behind a lot of potential consumers. That’s because, as Ars editor Sam Machkovech puts it, “a lot of [existing VR] is very expensive or very underwhelming.”

Oculus’ upcoming Quest headset is setting out to be the middle ground between these two poles. Unlike most cheap, untethered headsets, the Quest offers full motion and hand tracking with its built-in cameras and included Touch controllers. Unlike high-end tethered headsets, it doesn’t require external cameras or a connection to an expensive computer tower or game console; $400 will get you “all in” for self-contained VR starting in the spring.

Fresh from demoing Oculus Quest at the Oculus Connect conference in San Jose last month, Ars has put together a short video taking you through the pros and cons of the headset’s compromises. Click through to hear some nitty gritty details about the system’s hardware, comfort, frame rate, and what kinds of games we expect to see on the standalone device.

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NBA League Pass transforms games into VR viewing parties

Live sports broadcasts in VR tend to be solitary affairs, but they're about to become decidedly more social. Now that the 2018-2019 NBA season is getting underway, NBA League Pass and NextVR have revealed that they're offering shared viewing through…