Facebook's Oculus Tries To Find 'Sweet Spot' with New VR Headset
Facebook's Oculus wants to get 1 billion people into virtual reality, but the price of a high-quality headset might turn consumers away from trying out the technology.
Now, Oculus is trying to make virtual reality more affordable for the masses.
On Wednesday, Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said Oculus will be releasing a new virtual reality headset for $199 next year that doesn't need to be tethered to a computer. The headset will be higher quality than the cheaper Samsung Gear VR, which is designed to work with a smartphone.
Oculus has been trying to find a "sweet spot" when it comes to the price and quality of a virtual reality headset. The company also slashed the price of the Oculus Rift and touch controllers, which require a high-end personal computer, from $499 to $399 on Wednesday.
"Enabling us to be present everywhere creates opportunities for everyone," Zuckerberg said at Oculus' annual developer conference at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.
From exploring new places to conducting meetings in virtual reality, the technology isn't just about recreating real life, but "imagining the world as it could be," the tech mogul said.
Facebook bought Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion and paid another $1 billion for employee retention bonuses and other deals.
Through the use of virtual reality, the social media giant envisions a future where its users will be able to experience moments shared by their friends and families, such as birthdays or a baby's first steps, like they're there in real life.
But the tech firm still has to convince consumers that buying a virtual reality headset is worth the price.
Oculus, though, has faced other hurdles including shipment delays, a leadership shuffle, the departure of a co-founder and an intellectual property theft trial.
This week, Zuckerberg apologized for offending some users after he visited a flooded Puerto Rico in virtual reality through the use of a cartoon avatar.
Spending on augmented reality and virtual reality products and services is expected to grow worldwide from $11.4 billion this year to $215 billion in 2021, the International Data Corporation said in August.
"It's not about escaping reality. It's about making it better," Zuckerberg said.
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Image credit: Product shots by Oculus.