Facebook's Oculus VR division has announced a range of planned product launches, including a 'social VR world' dubbed Facebook Horizon and upgrades to its Oculus Quest headset which will bring controller-free hand-tracking and the ability to connect the standalone headset to a PC for tethered use.
Made during Facebook's annual developer event, the company's announcements show that it is going heavily into virtual reality projects - even as the last of Oculus VR's founders leave the company. The biggest news of the event was the impending launch of Facebook Horizon, the first large-scale attempt to meld Oculus VR's virtual reality platform with Facebook's social networking capabilities with the creation of a multiplayer virtual reality environment for socialisation. Due for launch next year, the platform - designed with a cartoon-like aesthetic - will act as a one-stop replacement for Oculus VR's earlier social gaming efforts, Oculus Rooms and Spaces.
The Oculus Quest, launched earlier this year, was also a major focus during the event. Owners of the headset, which was launched as a standalone virtual reality headset based on smartphone-style hardware, have been told that they will soon be able to use the device as an Oculus Rift tethered headset replacement through what the company calls Oculus Link. When tethered to a compatible PC's USB 3.0 port, Oculus Link allows an Oculus Quest headset to operate as an Oculus Rift while retaining the benefit of inside-out tracking.
More impressive is the promise that the Oculus Quest, which has an array of built-in cameras to track its position in space, is to receive a software-only upgrade which will enable hand tracking with individual-finger resolution. Unfortunately, Oculus Quest owners may be waiting a little while for that particular feature: The company has only stated it will launch in experimental form in early 2020, with no word on release-ready availability.
Other VR-related announcements made during the event include a planned fibre-optic cable for lighter and less tangle-prone tethering, game launches including Star Wars Vader Immortal Episode II and Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond - the latter a project from Titanfall studio Respawn, seemingly dashing rumours of a Titanfall VR game - and improve media streaming functionality.
January 24 2020 | 12:00