Oculus Connect 4 mega roundup: Oculus Go, Santa Cruz, Dash and much much more!

On October 11th and 12th, Oculus held its annual conference called Oculus Connect where it showcased all its latest advancements and announced a lot of news.

I was quite hyped by the conference and I hoped that Oculus may surprise us all. I forecasted some standalone devices and AAA games announced, but I really wanted to hear something that could make me blow my mind, as for instance a CV2 or an augmented reality device by Oculus. Actually, I came out pretty deluded.

Oculus Connect just announced the things we were all expecting and little more. Disruption can wait and I think that Oculus, since acquisition by Facebook, is more interested in developing commercially viable solutions than true innovations. That’s not necessarily bad, it is a choice that has sense from a business point of view, but the innovator that is in me wants something more!

Anyway, let’s start talking about the news, in random order.

Zuck wants 1 billion people in VR
Oculus Connect 4 virtual reality roundup all
VR will be the next computing platform and Facebook will be in (Image by Upload VR)

The main keynote was held by Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, with the help of Hugo Barra, head of Oculus. Zuck went on the stage and made a bold claim, saying that he wants 1 billion people to enter VR. This is the main goal of Oculus. He didn’t say when he wants to obtain this goal, nor how to obtain it. So, it is basically as I walked on a stage and told that my goal is having 1 billion dollars and have more women than Hugh Hefner. Everybody claps the hands and we are all happy, but in the end it has just no sense.

I mean, it is a bold claim to be made by Facebook right now, when if we sum the sales of GearVR and Rift, we maybe arrive at 8-9 millions of devices… so Zuck is at less than 1% of his goal. There’s a long road to go and with VR that at this moment is in the Trough of Disillusionment, with lots of journalists claiming that it is dead, I’d stick to the more concrete goals of making people understand NOW why VR matters and make them buy VR devices, instead of thinking about having the whole world using VR somehow at some unknown moment in the future.

Furthermore, as spotted thanks to NWN, Philip Rosedale, founder of High Fidelity, pointed out that to handle a social VR experience with 1 billion people, Zuck would need 50 million servers and this is just impossible…

… unless that Facebook adopts a distributed architecture (with someone suggesting even the use of blockchain)

Anyway, from this goal is clear one thing: Facebook sees VR (and AR) as the next computing platform: considering that we have 2+ billion smartphone devices in the world, aiming at 1 billion VR devices means that basically he wants VR to become almost widespread as smartphones, so that in the future it can substitute them.

Oculus Go
Oculus Go headset announcement
Oculus Go design (Image by Oculus)

This has been for sure the most hyped news of this conference. In its road to reach 1B people, Oculus has announced the Oculus Go headset. What is Oculus Go? Well, it’s Facebook’s new low-tier standalone VR headset.

Just to recap some features:

  • It is standalone, so it works on its own, including the processing unit, the screen, etc…
  • It has built-in spatial audio speakers, integrated into the headset. If you have ever used HoloLens, you know what I’m talking about: there are little speakers integrated into the strap, near the position of the ears of the user. This way, the user can have amazing 360 audio without wearing any headphones. Anyway, since this means that everyone can hear what the user is hearing and that’s no good (especially if the user is experiencing something personal or intimate), there is the possibility to add personal headphones;
Oculus Connect 4 virtual reality roundup all Oculus Go
This image conveys very good the idea of what integrated audio is (Image by Upload VR)
  • The screen is a high-resolution fast-switch LCD and not an OLED. This is a solution similar to the one of Pimax 8K and has been adopted because this helps in reducing the perceived screen door effect (OLED use Samsung’s Pentile pixel arrangement and this is no good for SDE). Screen resolution is 2560×1440;
  • According to Road To VR, It uses Oculus’ “next-generation” lenses, “offering a wide field of view with significantly reduced glare”;
  • 3DOF tracking of the headset, that is: NO POSITIONAL TRACKING, NO ROOM SCALE;
  • Control through a 3DOF remote, very similar to the one of Gear VR;
Oculus Connect 4 virtual reality roundup all Oculus Go
Oculus Go remote: it is an evolution of Gear VR controller. Notice how it is ergonomic inside the hand (Image by Oculus)
  • Gear VR platform: a game made for Gear VR, works flawlessly on Go: this means that since Day 0, this device will have lots of interesting VR apps;
  • Amazing price of $199.

Basically, it is a device very similar to an S8 + GearVR, but sold as standalone and for only $199Road To VR reports that it will be available for users at the beginning of 2018, while developers can ask for a dev kit even now… and they’ll receive it in November. Oculus says on its website that there is limited availability, so maybe they’ll send it only to selected developers.

No one has been able to try the device (not even a prototype) and even specs are not that clear.

Everybody went crazy for this piece of news, but I have not been that hyped. The reasons are:

  • Oculus Go hasn’t surprised me, since a Bloomberg report of some months ago already revealed its existence, features and price. If you follow that link, you can read that the device name was previously “Pacific” and that it should be produced in collaboration with Xiaomi (even if during OC4 there was no mention of Xiaomi):

    Oculus has plans to enlist China’s Xiaomi and its network of contract manufacturers to produce the new headset for global distribution, people familiar with the arrangement said. The device will feature Oculus branding around the world, except a custom version for China will feature Xiaomi branding and run some Xiaomi software applications, the people said. Hugo Barra, recently put in charge of Oculus’s VR products, was previously a Xiaomi executive. Xiaomi declined to comment.

  • As I’ve already told you in my post of yesterday, I have doubts about Go’s utility. I think that a GearVR-like experience is not that amazing in VR. GearVRs are good to watch Netflix, 360 videos, chat with people in VR and make minigames. That is exactly the vision of Facebook… because watching videos, chatting and playing little games are exactly the tasks that we all do on that social media. But VR is much more than a Facebook-like experience! VR is movement, is touching things, is having our full body, is being really inside an adventure and get amazed. I don’t like the Facebook-approach. Furthermore, people may be attracted by the price, but they still don’t know why they should spend $200 for a VR headset… the general consumer has no idea about what is the use of VR, so won’t buy a VR headset for $200, not even for $100. Cardboards are free everywhere, but people do not use them!

    Oculus Connect 4 virtual reality roundup all Oculus Go
    All the device, for only $199! (Image by UploadVR)

IMHO, Oculus Go offers VR enthusiasts that do not own a Samsung phone, the ability to enter VR for only $200. It also offers people that currently use Gear VRs in exhibitions, a cheaper and more easy-to-use alternative. That’s it…. for these niches it is great, but it is not that appealing for everyone. In fact, according to Upload VR’s Ian Hamilton:

I also found Oculus CTO John Carmack surrounded by developers pinging him with questions and asked him how big he expects sales to be for Oculus Go. He echoed Mitchell’s assessment, suggesting expectations for the headset to fall between Rift and Gear VR sales.

This means that Oculus expects to sell just some million devices. People are talking about the disruption of VR market, but Oculus just thinks about selling less Gos than Gear VRs! The road towards the billion users is still very very long…

Oculus Santa Cruz
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A user wearing Santa Cruz and its controllers (Image by Road To VR)

Everything that Oculus Go lacks is present in another headset presented by Oculus: Oculus Santa Cruz. If you follow my blog since a long time, you surely remember this name: it is a device that has been showcased in super-preview at Oculus Connect 3.

What is Santa Cruz? It is an Oculus Rift, in standalone form factor. This is not a wireless device, it is a standalone one, exactly as Oculus Go. But it has some big differences with Go, that I will highlight while talking about it. Notice that, apart from official images, we have no pictures: no one has been able to take photos or videos of it, so I can’t show you that much. I will make you imagine how it is, as I’ve imagined it by reading reviews.

So, imagine an Oculus Rift, without a companion PC and so without cables. The rear part of the strap is not that solid triangle, but it is more soft, more rubbery, so it is far easier to put it on your head and it is also far more comfortable. There are no headphones: as with Oculus Go, there are integrated speakers that you can mute using custom headphones.

Optics are very good: new Fresnel lenses, OLED display. Screen door effect correction, mura correction and resolution are higher than the Rift. Road To VR journalist hypothesizes that the resolution may be something around 2,560×1,440. What scares me is that the same journalist talks about an experience with low graphical power (low poly count) and 75Hz of refresh rate. I mean, we’re talking again about a Gear VR-like experience. That’s so bad. Of course a standalone headset can’t reach the same power of a desktop PC powered by a GTX1080, but I was hoping for something more.

Then there are controllers: 6DOF Controllers, very similar to Oculus Touch. Just take a Touch Controller, remove the upper buttons and thumbstick and add a touchpad there to substitute them all; furthermore, rotate 90 degrees the half-moon circle full of IR sensors; and voilà, you have a Santa Cruz controller! Controllers are one of the two features that make Santa Cruz far superior than Go: with Santa Cruz YOU HAVE YOUR HANDS IN VR. Not just a remote, that is useful only to watch movies. You can interact naturally in VR!

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Oculus Santa Cruz controllers (Image by Road To VR)

Tracking is made by 4 IR wide-angle cameras, that are put on the 4 corners of the faceplate of the headset. These are used to perform inside-out tracking for controllers and headset. Using 4 cameras, Oculus has been able to obtain a great tracking volume for controllers: to make them exit from the tracked area, you have to perform really weird moves. If you do them, you may have the impression of the controller to snap in your view when it gets tracked again… but then everything works again flawlessly.

Oculus Connect 4 virtual reality roundup all oculus santa cruz
The tracking volume for Santa Cruz controllers: it is huge! (Image by Road To VR)

This tracking solution is far better than the one of Windows Mixed Reality because of two reasons:

  • It has a bigger tracking volume for controllers: it is easier with MR devices to have your controllers out of the tracking area;
  • It uses IR tracking, so it is more immune to lighting changes and can work in the dark (even if it can be prone to IR interferences);

I think that this was the way of Oculus to say “B*tch please” to Microsoft… and actually they said something similar during the conference…

… and Alex Kipman of Microsoft hasn’t been that happy about that

The tracking quality is good, even if Road To VR reports a bit of jitter, both in head tracking and controllers. And the fact that Ars Technica noticed “a flat painting mounted on the ceiling that had a mostly square-grid arrangement of ceiling tiles and skylights”, something useful to help tracking, makes me think that the Santa Cruz tracking still needs some adjustments.

In fact, it is still a work-in-progress: Oculus engineers have said that a lot of things may change in these months.

I’m pretty excited by Santa Cruz: it is a full-fledged VR device, with no cables, no PC, but still room scale and ergonomic 6DOF controllers! It is a standalone Rift, wow! Imagine playing a game like Robo Recall (but with less cool graphic, since we’re on a mobile device) without cables, without limitations, everywhere you want to experience it! Because you can put the Santa Cruz + controllers in your suitcase and take it with you and play everywhere! And jump, crouch and shoot like in real life! Can’t wait for it!

We don’t know anything about price and availability. Price will be higher than Go for sure and the device will be sent to developers next year (we don’t know when) and later released to consumers.

While you wait for it, my advice is reading some reviews from Road To VR, Upload VR and Ars Technica. Especially Road To VR one, it is very detailed.

Oculus Rift CV1 gets permanent price cut

Good news for us all: Oculus Rift price will be $399 from now on, so the device will come to the price that it had during the Summer of Rift. This is fantastic and will surely increase adoption of VR headsets.

I think that this decision has been taken to fight the upcoming Windows Mixed Reality Headsets. On November, 6th Samsung will officially release its Odyssey headset, that offers much more than the Rift (higher resolution, inside-out tracking, etc…) for $499. Rift couldn’t have the same price, so Oculus has taken the smart decision of lowering the price to $399 again. This way the Rift offers a little less, for a smaller price. That’s perfect.

The best thing about this decision is the video they made to advertise the new price of Rift. It is one of the best VR marketing videos I have ever seen. If you have 2 minutes, watch it.

Oculus For Business
Oculus Connect 4 virtual reality roundup all business
People collaborating in VR inside an architectural experience. I don’t know what those 2 girls are seeing since they don’t have a headset, but they’re surely decorative (Image by Oculus)

This has been in my opinion one of the most important news of the OC4, even if a lot of magazines almost ignored it. Do you remember that when comparing Vive to Oculus, I highlighted the fact that Oculus didn’t have a business licensing model? Well, finally it has. So, the Rift is not a consumer-only product anymore and you can use it for enterprise applications without being an outlaw.

Oculus has launched Oculus For Business: spending $900 you can obtain an Oculus bundle containing all the hardware for a 360-degrees VR experience, some facial masks, and special warranty & support.

Oculus Connect 4 virtual reality roundup all business
The contents of the Oculus for Business bundle (Image by Oculus)

The price may seem high, but it is normal that commercial solutions have higher prices. Furthermore, it is still $300 less than buying the Vive Business edition. Oculus now can compete with a low price with Vive even in the enterprise space. I think that Vive tracking solution (with Trackers and such) is more suitable for certain kind of enterprise applications (like arcades), but for the others, Oculus can be great. They, for instance, showed the collaboration they’re making with various big companies like Cisco and Audi.

New Oculus Home

Rift runtime will reach version 2.0 (named Rift Core 2.0) and with it there will come two big news: a completely redesigned Oculus Home and Oculus Dash.

New Oculus home is… a-ehm, a CTRL+C, CTRL+V of Steam VR Home Beta. It is your personal place that you can customize and where you can invite your friends to stay together. There will be present artworks, toys and your achievements of games…  I mean, you can read the description of SteamVR Home. It is the same stuff. The only difference is that to launch games you will use old-style gaming cartridges.

Finally they have updated the current Oculus Home, that was a 2D UX inside a static 3D world, into a true VR hub. And since we know that the application has been made with Unreal Engine, we’re sure that the graphics will be really awesome.

The update will come for free in December 2017. Get ready for a truly immersive VR menu.

Oculus Dash

Oculus Dash is the other big news of the Oculus Runtime. It is a dashboard that you can recall whenever, wherever, with just a key of your controllers (I bet it will be the Menu button). It will include functionalities of Oculus Home and Universal Menu.

Basically, since Oculus Home has become a 3D world, there is now the need for an easy to use 2D menu and this is Dash. Through Dash, you can set some settings, but especially you can launch every kind of VR experiences. So, for instance, imagine that while you’re playing Robo Recall, you’re getting bored (impossible!) and you want to play Face Your Fears. You have just to open the Dash and launch Face Your Fears directly from there… easy, isn’t it? No more need to close the game, go back to Home, find the menu and launch the new game. Just a fast shot.

But the coolest part is that you will be also able to launch Desktop 2D apps: Chrome, Visual Studio, Unity, Firefox… they will open inside a 2D windows that will be overlayed on top of the VR world. And you can open a lot of them together… so basically you have a screen of infinite size in VR! You can just use all your PC apps just within VR, without removing the headset! And you can even pin it inside your VR world: this means that while you’re modeling within Google Blocks in VR, for instance, you can keep a window with Chrome and Youtube there opened in the corner, so that you can keep listening to your favorite music. Or you can leave a Visual Studio studio window open in VR while executing your VR app, to debug it directly in VR. That’s astonishing.

This means hard times for apps like Virtual Desktop and V Dashboard. Especially V Dashboard, that will lose almost all its utility 🙁 .

Oculus Dash + Oculus Home are a great duo for the Oculus user experience.

Facebook Spaces updates

Facebook Spaces, the Oculus social VR platform, is getting some interesting updates:

  • Users will be able to live Facebook Live 360 videos together in streaming. This will be great to live together experiences, like a concert in VR;
  • Kits: a system that will let “anyone assemble items into games or activities that they can save in their space and share with friends”. So, creation of mini-games inside Spaces;
  • Quillustrations: Spaces will be integrated with Quill and people will be able to experience together 3d paintings and artistic experiences made with Quill;
  • Upcoming collaborative projects with developers;

Together with these updates will come also 3D Posts, the ability to share on Facebook (with every people having Facebook, not only VR users), 3D elements created in VR. The first application to support 3D posting will be Medium, but more are to come. So, Medium artists will be able to easily share their 3D masterpieces on Facebook with everyone! Wow.

No one of these updates is particularly disruptive, but they show that Facebook is still working to improve a lot its VR social space.

The real disruption is in the last revelation: Spaces will come to other platforms, that is SteamVR and PSVR. We still don’t know when it will happen, but it will happen. Of course Facebook has the interest to include the most number of users possible: as they take smartphone users from iOS, Android and Windows Phone, they have no interest in getting only Oculus users inside social VR. If the next-gen Facebook wants to be pervasive as the current one, they have to target ALL users.

Oculus Venues
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Screenshot of the video showcasing a lot of people attending a concert in virtual reality (Image by Road To VR)

Oculus is interested in offering a platform to let us watch events together, that’s why it is launching Oculus Venue.

According to Road To VR, Mark Zuckerberg described Venues this way:

Venues lets you watch live concerts and live sports, and premieres of movies and TV shows all around the world with your friends and with thousands of other people at the same time. It’s another example of how VR is going to bring us closer together in ways that might not be possible in the physical world.

Furthermore, they stated that the system should allow for 1000 people simultaneously viewing the same event. Further details will be shared in the next months.

I want to highlight one sentence of the above quote: “how VR is going to bring us closer together in ways that might not be possible in the physical world”. Zuck has spent much time of the keynote explaining how it is not true that VR is isolating. Since VR allows us to do together things that are impossible in the physical world, as:

  • meeting with people that are far away from us;
  • live together fantastic adventures like playing with frisbees at zero gravity;

it is social empowering and not isolating. His one is a very interesting point of view and having enjoyed social VR by myself, I partly agree with him. It is still true that while VR connects us with other VR users, it mostly disconnect us from non-VR users.

New Oculus Avatars

Current Oculus Avatars are pretty simple: you just have some possible customization choices and nothing more. For instance it is weird being of a monochromatic color.

virtual reality oculus touch avatar sdk tutorial user id
My VR Avatar… actually, I’m not that blue in the real world…

That’s why Oculus wants to make avatars more personal, more similar to us: it will be possible to customize better the avatar, so that now you can better show who you are. These customizations will include having the proper color of hair and face, but also clothing and accessories. Look at the avatars below to get an idea:

Oculus Connect 4 virtual reality roundup all AVATAR SDK
New Avatars… look how they’re better and more colorful than current ones (Image by Oculus)

Furthermore, Avatars will get automated eye movements and lip sync! This means that the avatars will automatically follow what we’re looking and will change the shape of the mouth according to what we’re saying! Awesome!

That’s cool, but I think that the true revolution lies in the fact that Oculus is making Avatars SDK cross platform! This means that developers can choose to use Oculus Avatars in SteamVR and Daydream! This is important because lets every one of us keep its virtual identity coherently among all the VR experiences. This is very powerful. We need to have a VR identity and Oculus is trying to give it to us.

All this epic update will roll out in 2018. The eye movements and lip sync updates will come “later next year”… and this makes me think that later next year there will be an Oculus device able to track the eyes… so, is this the time scheduled for the CV2 release? And does this mean that the CV2 will include eye tracking? We’ll see!

Anti-harassment tools
Oculus Connect 4 virtual reality roundup all harassment
Oculus bets on users’ online safety (Image by Oculus)

Harassment is a big issue in social VR ecosystems. That’s why Oculus wants to address it, offering social VR experiences developers a set of easy tools to let their social VR users report and block annoying people. The nice feature is that the block feature will work at a platform level. So, if I block a user in Echo Arena, that person won’t be able to harass me in Rec Room, too, for instance. This functionality will be free for every developer using the Rooms API and will let social experiences developers have a very useful functionality ready out of the box.

As reported by Gizmodo:

“Let’s be honest, being in VR with other people, especially strangers, can be intimidating,” Womack said on stage on Wednesday. “For communities to thrive, people need to feel safe—and it costs developers a lot of money and time and effort to build and maintain safe places. We care deeply about protecting the future of social VR. So we want to help. We decided to build an API that does a lot of that for you. Early next year, you’ll be able to get platform-level safety tools, like blocking and reporting, for free. It’s like, built-in best practices that carry app-to-app.”

Oculus Explore
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Oculus Explore menu inside Gear VR (Image by Oculus)

VR apps are becoming more and more and discovering the ones that we may like is becoming always more difficult. That’s why Oculus has created Explore, a place inside Gear VR’s Oculus Home where the system reports to the user news about the app that he/she may like, according to his/her tastes. It is officially defined as “a personalized feed of recommended apps and experiences available to people in Home on Gear VR”. That’s really a nice idea.

Oculus is now launching the Explore API: developers of Gear VR apps can this way push apps, stories, news, notifications and whatever they like about their products to the Explore feed. This way, VR users can read all these news and so decide for instance to download a new app because they liked a blog post about it, or to update an app because there is a new cool update launching new features.

Explore is coming to Rift in 2018.

Other Platform tools

Oculus has also launched various other tools, like:

  • Multiview, the Single Pass Stereo Rendering for OpenGL ES that will increase performances for Gear VR apps;
  • Cubemap and Cylindrical layers for PC SDK: I found this news on reddit and it seems to point at new ASW-like features to improve performances on PC;
  • Lost Frame Capture, a tool to debug the performances of your VR application and understand when it misses frames
  • Easy streaming / screenshots sharing from Gear VR to Facebook;
  • Notifications inside the Oculus App when your VR friends enter VR through a Gear VR headset, so that you can connect with them;
  • Improvement to the Mixed Reality Capture Tool.

If you want to read a better description of all of this, my advice is going directly to the dedicated page on Oculus Blog.

Respawn war game

Oculus is partnering with game studio Respawn to create a new war shooter game. The trailer says it all

… or at least says all that we are allowed to know at the moment. As Peter Hirschmann says, “we’re making a super secret game with Oculus.” so we can’t know that much.

The choice of Oculus of funding a war game has raised a lot of critics

IMHO the critics have no sense. I agree with people saying that VR shouldn’t be only action games… I’m one of them. VR has to demonstrate that is much more than a gaming peripheral if it wants to reach 1 Billion people. It has to be useful in our everyday life. And has to propose content that may appeal any kind of person.

But if we talk about gaming… shooters and violent games have always been present in the history of gaming. We all love them. This does not mean that we love war, we all hate war, it is something terrible invented by mankind. But playing the war on a PC can be entertaining, so why shouldn’t Oculus fund this kind of games? Has it to fund only games that SJWs find acceptable?

Everyone here is praising Onward, a war game, as one of the best games for VR… and now the same people are criticizing Oculus for having funded a similar experience… there’s no sense.

Pixar’s  Coco VR

Among the socially accepted experiences, there will surely be Coco VR. This is the first experience born from the collaboration of Oculus (hence Facebook) with Pixar (hence Disney). It has been described as the “next level social virtual reality experience” (source: Road To VR)

We don’t know that much about it, apart from the fact that:

  • It will be related to the upcoming Coco movie by Pixar;
  • It will include social features: probably we’ll be able to visit Coco’s world inside virtual reality with our friends, thanks to Facebook’s social VR features;
  • The app will launch on Rift on November, 15th and on Gear VR on November, 22nd
Echo Combat

Echo Arena has been one of the most amazing experiences for Oculus Rift. Someone even defined it the killer app for VR. I think that this is a bit an exaggeration, but for sure it is a fantastic game.

Well, it seems that Echo Arena’s developers at Ready At Dawn are ready to release an expansion for this awesome game: Echo combat. Not that much has been revealed, apart from the fact that it will be an amazing zero-gravity shooter experience and that it will be available in 2018.

I really enjoyed Echo Arena and one of the parts that I loved the most was going towards opponents and punching them in the face (I know, I’m really violent!). So I can only imagine how could be cool a game with guns and melée weapons in zero gravity… can’t wait for it!

Oculus has open sourced DK2
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Oculus DK2 headset, exploded (Image by Oculus)

With a blog post on the day preceding the Oculus Connect (and surely in preparation for it), Oculus has announced that it has completely opensourced all hardware and software of the Oculus DK2 device. License will be Creative Commons for hardware design and BSD for firmware.

I really advise you to read the post: you can really learn interesting things from it. For instance I was surprised in discovering that one of the most difficult things for Oculus engineers has been the production of the headset cable. I always thought that the cable was just a random cable, bought for $5 at the local shop. Instead it has been one of the most complicated things of the whole project. Then they also explain that due to the short available time and the desired low price for the headset, they used a lot of already-available pieces, like the screen of the Galaxy Note 3.

Oculus Connect 4 virtual reality roundup all DK2 opensource
Internal board of the DK2 headset (Image by Oculus)

I really loved this choice, since from these documents it is possible to learn a lot on how a VR headset has to be made. If you’re a maker, I’m sure you’ll love them. Oculus did it completely voluntarily, to devolve something to communities and this is a good decision by them, it reminds me the old little Oculus company. There is only a problem:

We wanted to caveat that some of the components of DK2 are challenging or impossible to source today, so it may not be possible for an individual to build a full headset from the provided files. We hope that parts of this release are useful though as learnings if nothing else!

Damn… so it will not be possible to create a DK2 from scratch!

Oculus research is full throttle on AR
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Oculus Research center machinery (Image by Oculus)

On Oculus blogs has appeared a long post by Michael Abrash about Oculus Research center. The article is a long presentation of people working there, highlighting their talent and passion.

What I found really interesting is that Abrash talks about the serious focus of Facebook towards AR:

[…] our AR program is the direct result of Mark’s vision—it started because Mark felt it was a long-term investment we needed to make. […]

I’ll be honest—when Mark first raised the topic of AR, I literally said that I wasn’t sure what it was useful for. That earned me a look of disbelief that was useful incentive to think a lot harder about AR’s potential. Three years later, I’m fully convinced that we’ll all be wearing AR glasses one of these years—myself included—but it was Mark’s vision that first got me thinking in that direction, and that convinced me to sign up to make AR happen.

While AR glasses have the potential to be one of the most important technologies of the twenty-first century, that won’t happen unless some very challenging practical constraints are overcome.



So, if we had any doubts about Facebook being interested in AR or not, you can completely wipe them. Facebook CEO in person is a great AR believer. Get ready for Facebook’s future AR glasses.

At the end of the post, Abrash invites every passionate techie to join him… so, if you want to work at Oculus Research, go at the end of the post and follow the link…

Oculus investments in education, diversity and beyond

I really don’t know how to summarize this news. I think that the best way is that you take directly a look to the related post on Oculus blog.

There, you will find that Oculus strongly believes that the Rift can be an educational tool for everyone and for this reason, has made available Oculus Rift stations across 90 libraries in California. Furthermore, it has created the Oculus Education program, aimed at sponsoring research at several institutions to explore how VR enhances learning.

But VR doesn’t only serve for education, but also for diversity. Various programs, like the 360 Filmmakers challenge or the Creators Lab are useful to support content creators in shooting 360 videos that can inspire social change.

And then there is Oculus Launch Pad, that supports VR content creators from different backgrounds, to foster diversity and inclusion in the VR ecosystem (something that will make #WomenInVR happy)

So, even if Oculus is considered by many as the bad guy of VR, it has also its great bright side 🙂

Palmer Luckey

Surprisingly, the true Palmer Luckey was spotted at the Oculus Connect conference. This time he didn’t wear a bra (as much as it could be seen), but the classical Hawaiian shirt.

When people noticed him, they started surrounding him to talk about AR and VR. Upload VR journalist Ian Hamilton managed to film 20-30 minutes of this interesting chatting. Palmer seemed very relaxed and it was like those people were just talking with a friend. There have been also funny moments, like when he mocked a girl working on “Microsoft Mixed Reality headset”, or when he said this epic sentence:

People who say that AR is going to killer VR completely miss the point and should be fired

Here are the videos if you want to see them. They don’t contain anything disruptive, just an interesting talk about technology.

John Carmack

The Keynote of day 2 was held by John Carmack, that as always made a long technical speech. If you love technical stuff, you can watch it here

And that’s it. I hope to have included all the news from the event and the Oculus Blog and hope that this has been useful for you. If you want to watch the event again, you can find the Day 1 here and the Day 2 here.

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AR/VR developer, startupper, zombie killer. Sometimes I pretend I can blog, but actually I've no idea what I'm doing. I tried to change the world with my startup Immotionar, offering super-awesome full body virtual reality, but now the dream is over. But I've still not waken up...