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Oculus’ new standalone virtual reality headset, the Oculus Quest, appears to be a big hit among consumers after initial reports indicate that the Quest headset has sold out across a number of U.S. retailers just one week after its launch to the masses.
According to a report by Variety, the Quest which launched on May 21st for $399 and is an ‘all-in-one’ headset that aims to deliver a similar VR experience as the Oculus Rift without the need to be tethered to a PC or any external tracking sensors, has been selling out at major retail stores like Amazon, Walmart, and Newegg, suggesting that consumers are excited for Oculus’ new standalone.
While it’s still too early to tell whether the demand for the Oculus Quest standalone headset will overall result in significant sales numbers for the company, considering that it is not clear how many units were shipped out to retailers, it is, however, an early positive sign for the VR market. Oculus’ parent-company Facebook seems to be very pleased with the consumer interest around Oculus Quest, and say they are working to ensure that all retailers are fully stocked with Quest headsets to meet the demands of consumers as soon as possible.
“We’re so glad to see the excitement and interest in Oculus Quest. While some of our retail partners are temporarily out of stock online, we’re working to restore availability in all channels as soon as possible,” the company stated.
For those looking to buy an Oculus Quest, you can still find them available at various other retailer stores around the world, as well as can be purchased directly from the company’s official website at Oculus.com.
Today marks a huge day for the team at Oculus, as the company is finally launching two of its highly-anticipated VR headsets, the Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S, which are both now available to purchase and shipping out to consumers.
The Oculus Quest is the company’s first standalone VR headset that offers six degrees of freedom (6DoF) tracking, which means that the headset will allow users to fully, immerse themselves in the virtual world accurately tracked and untethered without the need for external sensors or rely on a PC to run. It also boasts an OLED panel with a 72Hz refresh rate, 2880×1600 total resolution (1440×1600 per eye), and offers built-in positional audio. Oculus Quest comes in at two price points, depending on the storage size—$399 for 64GB, and $499 for 128GB, both of which are powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset.
Oculus Quest Basics Part 01: Device Setup - YouTube
“With all-in-one, fully immersive 6DOF VR, we’re bringing the magic of presence to more people than ever before—and we’re doing it with the freedom of fully untethered movement,” Oculus said in a blog post. “[…] Combined, the addition of Quest and Rift S to our hardware portfolio will help developers usher in the next level of VR gaming.”
Oculus Rift S Basics Tutorial - YouTube
As for the Rift S, the new flagship PC-powered VR headset replaces the original Rift and improves upon the previous hardware with better Fresnel lenses and a fast-switch LCD display for optics designed to reduce glare and screen door effect to deliver greater clarity for a more immersive experience overall. The Rift S sports a total resolution of 2560×1440 (1280×1440 per eye), which Oculus boasts it equates to 42 percent more pixels over its predecessor.
Along with its new Lenovo-designed halo-style headband for better ergonomics and comfort, the Rift S also features five built-in cameras on the headset that enable inside-out tracking, for a full room-scale virtual reality experience without the external sensors, much like Oculus Quest.
Oculus has announced that Google is bringing its popular YouTube VR app to the highly-anticipated Oculus Quest standalone headset, which is set to release this Tuesday, May 21st.
The dedicated YouTube VR app, first launched back in late 2016, and since then has become available across all major VR headsets—including the Oculus Rift and Go, and Samsung’s Gear VR. Now, with more than 1 million VR videos and experiences on the video streaming platform, new Oculus Quest users will be able to access a huge and diverse library of immersive, 360-degree and 180-degree videos alongside traditional 2D content.
YouTube VR | Oculus Quest - YouTube
“YouTube is a platform traditionally centered around 2D, but there’s also a lot of energy and interest in emerging formats such as 360° and VR180 content,” said YouTube VR Product Lead Kurt Wilms in an Oculus blog post. “We know that both creators and viewers on YouTube are excited about exploring non-traditional mediums of storytelling.”
“From becoming a part of the Brave Wilderness crew on their rainforest adventure to taking a tour of actress Madelaine Petsch’s trailer in Los Angeles, we’ve seen creators embrace VR to create new immersive videos that make their community feel closer and more present.”
The addition of YouTube VR to the Oculus Quest platform, along with an already impressive lineup of launch titles, including Beat Saber, Dance Central VR, Dead and Buried 2, Superhot VR, and Google’s Tilt Brush ensures that there will be plenty of immersive content for users to experience on day one when Quest is released next week.
It appears that Oculus’ parent-company Facebook is shaking up the leadership at the top of its VR division. Hugo Barra, who has led the Oculus team since 2017, announced that he is stepping down as the head of Oculus to take on a new role building global AR/VR partnerships within the company.
Barra transition to his new position comes just as the Oculus team is preparing to release its much-anticipated Oculus Quest and Rift S headsets later this month. “Time for me to take on the next big challenge—bringing AR and VR to more people!” he wrote in a tweet announcing the move.
Taking a new role @facebook building a global AR/VR partner ecosystem based in NYC, after 2+ amazing years leading the @oculus team. With Quest shipping 5/21, our first-gen VR lineup is now complete.Time for me to take on the next big challenge—bringing AR and VR to more people!
Barra’s replacement will be Erick Tseng, who previously served for nine years as the director of product management at Facebook. Tseng took to Twitter to make the announcement of his new role at the company.
“Excited to return to my consumer hardware roots and join a team that is transforming science fiction into reality,” Tseng said. “Looking forward to delivering products that will revolutionize how we work, play, and connect.”
Along with these changes, Oculus’ head of content, Jason Rubin, also tweeted that he will now be taking on a new role as VP of ‘special gaming initiatives’, where he will be “working on positively impacting game communities.” Rubins’ previous role will be filled by Michael Verdu, who was formerly a senior VP at Electronic Arts’ mobile division.
Whether or not these internal changes will affect Oculus’ strategic plans in the long term still remains to be seen, but, for now, it seems everything will continue on the same path. In a statement regarding the new leadership, a Facebook spokesperson said, “Nothing changes with the Oculus brand or our product portfolio with these changes.”
The results of the latest data from Valve’s monthly Steam Hardware Survey has revealed that although the Oculus Rift still maintains its lead over the HTC Vive in overall market share, the gap between these two competing high-end PC VR headsets continues its trend to tighten for the second consecutive month.
According to the April figures, which is based on data collected by Valve from Steam users participating in an opt-in survey to determine what kind of hardware and software is being used across the Steam platform, shows the Oculus Rift headset maintaining a market share lead now at 45.62% (down from 47.55%), over the HTC Vive, which came in with 41.08% (up from 39.55%). The Vive Pro, meanwhile, came in at 1.51% (up from 1.45%).
As for Windows VR headsets, the data results appear to show that these headsets continue on a slow, but steady trend upward, coming in at 11.07% (up from 10.56%). It will be interesting to see how the VR landscape shapes up once Oculus’ upcoming Rift S debuts later this month, and Valve’s Index headset hits the market in June.
During F8 2019 this week Oculus’-parent company Facebook announced that the company is launching an enterprise edition of the Oculus Quest, as part of its newly revamped Oculus for Business program.
The new Oculus for Business will expand the initiative later this fall to include the new standalone Quest headset alongside Oculus Go, while the Rift S, will also be available in volume for businesses to purchase, however, it seems the company is primarily focused on offering its ‘all-in-one’ VR solution to the enterprise market.
F8: Introducing the New Oculus for Business - YouTube
“Oculus for Business is aiming to simplify enterprise VR through a holistic approach designed especially for large-scale deployments,” says Oculus in a company blog post. “This includes a dedicated software suite offering device setup and management tools, enterprise-grade service and support, and a new user experience customized for business use cases.” Oculus has stated that the company is also working closely with leaders in enterprise IT and services to develop ways to integrate VR alongside the workflows and services that businesses already use.
Oculus will be offering the Oculus Quest enterprise hardware bundle for $999 and has 128GB of storage, while a 64GB version of the Oculus Go will be priced at $599. Each Oculus for Business hardware bundle purchase will include an enterprise warranty with full software access and support for one year. After the first year, support and software access is available for an annual fee of $180 per headset.
Several major companies are already on board taking advantage of Oculus for Business program, including DHL, Johnson & Johnson, Farmers Insurance and ExxonMobil, just to name a few. Oculus says they plan to announce additional partnerships and details as it gets closer to launch the new Oculus for Business in the fall.
Businesses interested in the new program can visit oculusforbusiness.com for more information to get started.
Today, during its F8 developer conference keynote, Oculus’-parent company Facebook announced that both the standalone Oculus Quest headset and the new Oculus Rift S headset will launch on May 21st, and are available for pre-order starting today.
The Oculus Quest is the company’s first standalone VR headset with six degrees of freedom (6DOF) inside-out tracking, meaning it does not require any external sensors or need to rely on a PC to deliver an immersive and completely untethered virtual reality experience. The Quest is available at two price points, depending on the storage size you choose—$399 for 64GB, and $499 for 128GB.
As for the Oculus Rift S priced at $399, it’s designed to replace the original Rift as the next iteration of the company’s flagship PC-powered VR headset, featuring improved optics and a decent bump in resolution. While the Rift S still requires to be tethered to a PC, it offers far superior graphics quality and performance over the Quest headset.
Introducing Oculus Quest—Our First All-in-One VR Gaming System - YouTube
“Our first all-in-one VR gaming system, Quest delivers the freedom of completely untethered movement in VR. For those with a Windows 10 PC and graphics card suited to PC gaming, Rift S gets you into the most immersive content that VR has to offer. Choose the headset that best fits your needs,” Oculus says in a company blog post.
Introducing Oculus Rift S - YouTube
Both the Rift S and Quest headset make use of Oculus’ Insight tracking technology, which is capable of translating a user’s movements into VR no matter which way they are facing and provides a full room-scale tracking while eliminating the time-consuming hassle of setting up sensors around the playspace. Rift S and Quest also share the same newly redesigned Touch controllers, which are tracked by the built-in camera sensors on each headset.
The Rift S will play all of the standard Rift titles that you would expect. And Quest is said to launch with more than 50 VR titles, including many popular games of which will be ported over from Rift—such as Beat Saber, Robo Recall, Superhot VR, Angry Birds VR, Creed: Rise to Glory, Dead and Buried 2, Job Simulator, Tilt Brush and many more.
Facebook’s annual F8 developers’ conference kicks off today at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, CA. As in prior years, the two-day event will be filled with the latest feature updates and news from across Facebook’s various platforms—including the company is expected to share the latest details about the upcoming Oculus Quest and Rift S VR headsets.
For those unable to attend F8 2019, no need to worry. You will be able to experience both of this year’s keynote presentation using your Oculus Go or Samsung’s Gear VR headset via the Oculus Venues app.
The keynote is taking place today April 30th at 10am PST / 1pm EST. And it will continue on Wednesday, May 1st, with another keynote presentation at the same time. Unfortunately, Oculus Venues is currently only available on the company’s mobile VR headsets, so Rift users are out of luck. Hopefully, that will change at some point in the future.
Of course, if you do not own an Oculus Go or Gear VR, you can still watch the livestreaming keynote presentation through multiple other channels, including the company’s dedicated F8 page and its Facebook page for developers.
Oculus-parent company Facebook is currently working on its own artificial intelligence-based digital voice assistant that may rival the likes of Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and the Google Assistant.
The news, first reported by CNBC, says that the company has been developing a new AI assistant since early 2018 and is intended to support Oculus VR headsets—in addition to Portal, and other future projects.
“We are working to develop voice and AI assistant technologies that may work across our family of AR/VR products including Portal, Oculus, and future products,” a Facebook spokesperson told Reuters in an email statement.
The company did not offer any other specific details about this new initiative. But according to the CNBC report, the team developing the new AI Assistant is working out of Redmond, Washington, and reportedly the development efforts are being led by Ira Snyder, director of AR/VR and Facebook Assistant at the company.
While it still remains unclear how Facebook plans to integrate the AI assistant into Oculus devices, the use of artificial intelligence with advanced voice recognition could certainly allow for greater accessibility and ease-of-use for VR users across the platform. In fact, the use of voice to navigate on the headset was first introduced back in 2017 when Oculus released a feature called ‘Oculus Voice’ to allow users to perform basic voice searches from Oculus Home to navigate games, apps, and experiences. However, it’s a feature that is not on par compared to an advanced AI assistant. Facebook is likely aiming to address these limitations with an AI voice assistant that can provide VR users with more useful capabilities to handle a wide variety of complex tasks.
We’ll likely learn further details about Facebook’s AI voice assistant plans at its upcoming annual developer conference, F8, that is scheduled to take place at the end of the April.