Unlike the Oculus Rift, the new headset won’t require cables or tethers.
Facebook’s Oculus is building a standalone virtual reality headset that, unlike its current Oculus Rift headset, does not need to be tethered to a computer with cables.
The new headset, which doesn’t have a name and is just a prototype at the moment, would provide an option in between Samsung’s Gear VR, which requires a Samsung phone, and the more expensive and high-powered headsets that Oculus and HTC and Sony are building, which require a PC.
— Oculus (@oculus) October 6, 2016
The new headset was announced by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Oculus Connect on Thursday, the company’s annual developers conference in San Jose, Calif.
Zuckerberg warned that the headset isn’t coming anytime soon, but still showed a short video that included footage of the prototype.
The new headset appears to be Facebook’s next big effort to bring VR more mainstream. The Rift is a consumer product, but it’s an expensive consumer product that won’t likely attract VR newbies thanks to the price tag and expensive computer needed to run it.
This new headset may offer something more powerful than Samsung’s Gear VR, but still cheaper than Rift. Or it may also simply be a way to make a Gear VR-style device that doesn’t require Samsung’s help.
Probably not coincidental: Google finally showed off its own standalone headset, called Daydream, earlier this week. That headset does require a phone, whereas Facebook’s new project does not. But they will both likely target the same demographic: VR newbies looking for a cheaper, more mobile alternative to the heavy duty headsets currently on the market.