Last week it was revealed that Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe left Facebook after the company canceled the Rift 2, which was reportedly a high-end PC VR headset.
Now TechCrunch is reporting that Facebook is instead moving ahead on a more modest upgrade to the Rift, possibly called the Rift S. The new headset will update the display resolution and get rid of the Rift’s external tracker system in favor of the Insight tracking system used on the Oculus Quest.
Read this: Why I’m fine with Facebook cancelling Rift 2
Facebook is more focused on providing an accessible core Rift experience for most people, chasing Mark Zuckerberg’s goal of a billion people in VR – rather than requiring the latest PC hardware for high-end VR quality.
The Rift 2, according to TechCrunch’s sources, was a “complete redesign” of the Rift. Iribe opposed providing “compromised experiences that provided short-term user growth but sacrificed on comfort and performance.”
Switching to the inside-out Insight system rather than the outside-in external tracking system is one way for Facebook to improve accessibility. It can be a mission to set up the Oculus Rift and its sensors, especially for non-technical people. The Insight system, which uses onboard cameras to sense surroundings and Oculus’ Touch Controllers, offer a far simpler setup experience.
However, that comes at the cost of accuracy. Inside-out tracking systems can suffer in badly lit areas, and because the cameras are on your headset it can be easy to lost tracking of the Touch Controllers.
Facebook seems to be wanting to split the VR difference between HTC, which offers high-end PC VR, and Microsoft, which has gone full accessibility with inside-out tracking Windows Mixed Reality headsets that can work on PCs with integrated graphics.
Oculus has been trending in this direction for a while. There’s the highly accessible £199 Oculus Go, which offers an experience more in line with mobile VR headsets, and the new £399 Oculus Quest, which looks to split the difference between the Rift and Go. The Rift S, which sounds like it inches the Rift in the direction of the Quest is reportedly set to debut as soon as early 2019.
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