Facebook is reportedly working on a low-cost, standalone VR headset priced at $200 — falling within the sweet spot between its basic smartphone-connected Smartphone Gear VR ($130) and its high-end $400 Oculus Rift, which must be tethered to a computer.
The device, reportedly code-named ‘Pacific’, is slated to be announced later this year and will ship in 2018, according to Bloomberg, which was first to report on its development. The Pacific is designed for gaming, video consumption, and social networking, according to Bloomberg, which notes that Facebook is attempting to do for VR what Apple did for mobile tech in unveiling its iPhone.
Following the launch of Sony’s Playstation VR headset in October, HTC, Lenovo, and Samsung are all working on standalone headsets for release later this year that would serve as competitors to the Pacific, according to Bloomberg. However, the overall headset market remains relatively tiny, with just 2.3 million devices shipped in Q1 2017 (compared to 347 million smartphones).
The HTC and Lenovo devices will run on Google‘s Daydream — a VR operating system launched by the search giant in October — while Samsung’s will utilize Oculus technology. Another player, Apple, is betting against the headset medium altogether and is instead honing augmented reality technology that will be able to lay out maps, text messages, and other virtual imagery over real-world scenes, according to Bloomberg.
In addition to the $200 device, Facebook is also working on a wireless version of its more powerful Rift with features that the Pacific won’t possess at launch, including positional tracking technology — which gives users a sense of where they are spatially. Code-named ‘Santa Cruz’, this more sophisticated device will tout the Rift’s full capabilities without needing to be tethered to a PC.