Oculus Shows Portable Gear VR Before 2016 Rift Headset Launch

25 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Oculus proclaims dawn of ‘virtual reality era’.

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook-owned Oculus VR wooed software makers with the promise of a budding “virtual reality era“ and an alliance with streaming television powerhouse Netflix. Some 1,500 people already intrigued by the potential of virtual reality packed the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles for keynote presentations at a second annual Oculus Connect developers conference on Sept 24. “We believe the more power people have to share and experience all kinds of different things in the world, the better the world will be,” Facebook co-founder and chief Mark Zuckerberg told the audience during a brief appearance on stage.

While the previous iteration of this VR solution worked exclusively with their flagship smartphones–the Galaxy S6 or the Note 4–this new version is excellent news for general consumers, promising support for all Samsung phones launched in 2015. Facebook bought Oculus VR last year in a deal valued at US$2bil (RM8.76bil), heralding virtual reality as the next generation computing platform and one that will let people instantly “travel” to new places. “It was like teleporting to some other place just by putting on a headset,” Zuckerberg said while recounting the first time he tried a Rift prototype at Oculus offices. The first Rift virtual reality headset is on track for release in the first quarter of next year, followed shortly thereafter by the debut of Touch controllers designed to let people reach in and interact with faux worlds. Resembling the current Gear VR in many ways, this one does have a redesigned D-pad type cross button that also doubles as a trackpad for navigating within the VR experience.

This immersive toy is slated to be available in the US first, in time for the Black Friday sales this year (27 November), and is expected to roll out globally shortly thereafter. With the recent announcement of Facebook making 360 degree videos available on their news feed and video services like Netflix, TiVo and Twitch already pledging support for content, it looks like VR is poised for takeoff. An improved version will debut in the United States in November at a price of US$99 (RM434), according to Peter Koo, a senior vice president in the mobile communications division of the South Korean consumer electronics titan.

People are already sharing 360° video and playing immersive games using Gear VR headsets, which let the company’s smartphones serve as display screens. Popular online building game Minecraft made by Swedish studio Mojang is diving into virtual reality with the launch next year of Rift, according to Oculus founder Palmer Luckey. Oculus Cinema capabilities and offerings were broadened and virtual reality gear users will be able to immerse themselves in game play streamed by Amazon-owned Twitch. A Netflix application tailored for Samsung Gear VR lets members of the subscription video streaming service “get the Netflix experience from the comfort of a virtual couch” where ever they happen to be with the headset, Netflix engineering vice-president Anthony Park said in a blog post. “Despite all the talk of hardcore gamers and abstract metaverses, a lot of people want to watch movies and shows in virtual reality,” Oculus chief technology officer John Cormack said in the post.

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