2017 looks to be shaping out to be a defining year for VR, as reports have emerged that Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) owned Oculus is planning to release a wireless mobile virtual reality headset. The new headset will reportedly not need to be tethered to a PC or phone, and is currently code-named “Pacific”.
This is big news for VR. While extremely promising technology, VR is undergoing growing pains and poor initial adoption. The VR technology currently available on the market suffers from a myriad of issues, including the incredibly high cost of entry, lack of meaningful content, negative health repercussions and a distinct lack of polish. All of this has meant that VR hasn’t quite taken off like many expected it would. One bright spot for VR was the Samsung Gear VR headset, which sold nearly 5 million units by the end of 2016. Users preferred to go with the cheaper, and more convenient mobile VR headset than the elaborate high end tethered headsets like Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.
However, the industry is making a concentrated effort to address these issues now. We recently reported on Samsung’s upcoming Odyssey VR headset, which will feature an ultra high-resolution display, and will not need a snap in the smartphone to function. The Odyssey headset can theoretically completely eliminate any adverse health effect that VR can have on users. Youtube is also doing their part to propagate VR, with their new VR180 format. This new video format will allow VR content to be created much more cheaply.
With the Pacific headset, Oculus is looking to make high-quality VR mainstream. It will reportedly be even lighter than the Gear VR. It will also be powered by a Snapdragon processor, making it much more powerful than something like the Gear VR. Unfortunately, it will likely not feature hand tracking or track user motion in space but could do so in future versions.
Now comes the most exciting part; the headset will cost only $200. This is half of what the current high-end Oculus Rift headset costs, and only a bit more expensive than the Gear VR. The Pacific headset can also leverage Oculus’ already existing mobile storefront for mobile VR apps. Add to that its wireless nature, affordable price tag and the advantage of not needing an expensive PC to power it, and all indications are that the Pacific headset could be a thumping success.
Currently, Samsung is ruling the VR headset market, with a 22% share, while Oculus languish with just 5%. In fact, Oculus is even behind Sony and HTC and sold less than 100,000 units of the Rift headset. Now, the Pacific headset just might be the device that brings the original pioneers of the VR headset back to the top.