Virtual Reality could get the push it needs for mass adoption later this year. Facebook is reportedly working on a wireless version of the Oculus Rift headset that would cost only $200 and start shipping in 2018.
Oculus hopes that its headset will popularize VR the same way Apple‘s iPhone popularized the smartphone, Bloomberg reports. The device, code-named “Pacific,” won’t be quite as powerful as the Rift. For example, it won’t include position tracking like the Rift does. It’s said to look like a smaller version of the company’s existing Rift, and it will be lighter than a Samsung Gear VR headset. It would be controlled via wireless remote.
Right now, there are basically two kinds of VR headsets. There are expensive, high-quality rigs you tether to a suitable PC system. (Oculus Rift VR bundles start around $1,000 at a minimum). Or, alternatively, you can use a much cheaper headset that uses your smartphone as its screen—and its brains. Among the latter include the Samsung Gear VR ($99.99), Google Cardboard ($16.99), and a handful of other headsets at price points in between.
Facebook’s next Oculus would hit a sweet spot in between those two options. It would offer VR quality that’s higher than what you’d get by placing a smartphone screen two inches from your eyeballs, but at a price tag that won’t require you to pull a second mortgage. If you’ve gotten a taste of VR on a Google Cardboard or a similar product and want something more—but not $600 more—this would be your go-to. And, being wireless, you’d be able to use it on the go, during your morning commute or on a cross-country flight—much the same way you would a tablet.
According to Bloomberg, this new wireless Oculus headset would include a Snapdragon processor inside be produced by Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi.