By Mark Isaiah David
Last October 11, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg launched the next big leap in virtual reality – the Oculus Go. The device will ship on 2018 and will cost $199.
Because it comes with the Facebook muscle behind it and the promise of hitting the ‘sweet spot’, the Oculus Go could be instrumental in achieving what so many have tried to do and failed: bring virtual reality to the greater masses. So, before it hits the market next year, here’s everything you need to know about the Oculus Go:
1.SWEET SPOT HOW?
VR technology has been on the market for years and it has promised a whole new world of wonders for all of us; but it has never really been ubiquitously accepted. Among other reasons, two of the biggest obstacles come down to price and ease of use. Think about it – if you want good VR tech, you either have to be tethered to a powerful PC with a custom room set-up for maximum effect (like the HTC Vive), or you pay a premium – which is why I still haven’t bought a Playstation VR device months after getting a PS4. Both scenarios suck.
The other route would be to go the casual way: get a (relatively) cheap VR gear and put your phone in to use it. The experience is, well, reduced – it’s not that immersive, the gear becomes heavy with your phone in it, and you end up sweaty with that heavy thing wrapped around your head and maybe even a bit nauseated due to the shoddy graphics. It’s no wonder VR hasn’t reached mass acceptance.
The Oculus Go promises to offer a third option: a virtual reality device that doesn’t need a phone or a PC to run it (it runs on its own), priced as a mid-range option. Zuckerberg is betting that slashing away the inconvenience of using VR gear would help realize his vision of 1 billion VR users in the near future.
2.WHAT MAKES IT TICK?
Because the Oculus Go positions itself to be between the low-end mobile VR and high-end PC VR, it needs components that would give a better VR experience than mobile VRs but won’t break the bank.
The headset screen boasts of high-resolution 2560×1440 graphics sweetness boosted with ‘fast-switch tech’ that hopefully will improve visual clarity and lag. Three degrees of head tracking freedom (3DOF) are equipped on the headset – and while it’s not the best out there, it’s not a slouch either. For audio, the device has built-in integrated spatial audio for enhance VR experience. While this removes the need for separate earphones, you can still plug those in if you wish to do so. As for battery, there’s no news on that front… yet. But I imagine that for a company like Facebook who wants you plugged in and engaged all the time, it would do them well to make sure the device’s power lasts a long time and it charges quickly so users can go back to their virtual worlds in a snap.
Best of all, of course, is that all of these components are built-in and you don’t even need a phone or plug the device to anything for it to work. The Oculus Go is stand-alone, and it wants you to (ahem) go ahead and enjoy yourself.
3.WHAT DOES IT DO?
The Oculus Go page boasts that you can “immerse yourself over 1,000 VR games, social apps, 360° experiences, and more.” Titles of note include Facebook 360, Netflix, Hulu, Star Chart, Jurassic World: Apatosaurus, Discovery VR, and games such as Dead and Buried, Ocean Rift, Cloudlands VR minigolf, Dragon Front, VR Sports Challenge, Lands End, Bait!, and Sing Space. Gamers can expect more titles in the future because the Oculus Go supports two of the most popular game engines out there: Unity and Unreal.
It’s like having a personal, portable theatre where you can lose yourself in. I know that promise has been made a thousand times before, but with Oculus Go’s built-in crystal clear optics, optimized 3D graphics, and integrated spatial audio, we might be a step closer in actually having that promise turn into reality.
4.ALRIGHT, BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
As I’ve said before, the promise of VR has been floating around for years, but it never really took off. Not because the technology is novel, but because it’s a pain to place your phone in a headset or hook up your gear just to try out this VR thing.
The Oculus Go has the potential to change all that because of its unique selling point: for the first time, the whole VR solution is in one box that’s ready to go. Now, VR is suddenly as convenient as your phone – just pick it up and use straight away. And the price helps too – it’s at the ‘magic price’ of under $200 where consumers are more willing to part with their money to try something new.
With a greater consumer base, more developers would be enticed to create more VR content. Established companies can port their popular titles (‘The Witcher’ VR, anyone?) that can further boost sales. In the future… well, who knows? What if big studios suddenly make VR versions of movies where you could step into the actual movie? Duck as Capt. America throws his shield at your direction because Thanos is behind you. Slip inside insane cars as Vin Diesel vaults to the moon or something equally impossible with a vehicle in Fast and the Furious XXVIII. Run alongside Tom Cruise (because he always runs) in his nth cameo in the Dark Universe series. You get the idea.
And with greater acceptance of VR, maybe there will also be more content/services for augmented reality. It would be amazing if every trip to the museum will have AR glasses that enhances the experience.
The Oculus Go is the latest proof of what tech leaders know: virtual reality can be big in the future. If the Go is actually able to deliver what it promises (affordable, immersive VR experiences in an instant), then that future may be closer than what naysayers are pronouncing. Let’s cross our fingers – I, for one, would love to jump on the VR wagon and slay dragons in a virtual world.