Oculus is holding its largest ever VR community developer event in San Jose, California (5th to 7th Oct). At the Connect 3 event Oculus has made several key announcements concerning VR hardware, software, and the future. Let's look over what has been announced by Oculus so far…
Santa Cruz all-in-one standalone VR device prototype
This was the most eyebrow raising announcement for me. The Santa Cruz fits that gap between PC tethered VR systems and the mobile phone powered solutions. Where it will fit exactly within that wide spectrum of VR capabilities isn't clear right now.
The official video, embedded above, shows the prototype's inside-out tracking but the graphics on show could perhaps have been purposefully basic – due to graphics styling taste, software development time limits, or limited by the built-in processing power of the headset - we don't know. Otherwise, it's good to see the prototype AiO headset doesn't appear to be particularly bulky.
Touch controller launch
At last Oculus has officially launched its Touch controllers. They are available for pre-order now, priced at $199 for a pair, and will ship from 6th December. To encourage pre-orders Oculus is bundling both VR Sports Challenge and The Unspoken. Buyers get an additional sensor and a connector for Rock Band VR.
Those who pre-ordered and purchased Rift through Oculus.com already have a reserved place in the Touch pre-order queue – as long as they confirm intent to buy before 28th October.
Oculus is also offering a richer VR experience for its users with the availability of a room-scale sensor. This is a third sensor for those with enough space and it will become available at the same time as Touch, priced at $79.
Asynchronous Spacewarp and lowered PC specs
Interestingly Oculus has devised a new rendering technique that is said to "allow a game to run at half framerate and look nearly as good as native 90Hz rendering". Using Asynchronous Spacewarp (ASW) will open up VR to many with lower spec computers. In basic terms, ASW works by taking the previous 2 frames, and calculating the spatial transform to extrapolate a new synthetic frame. You can read more about ASW on the Oculus Developer Blog.
Thanks to ASW Oculus and Cyberpower have been able to put together an AMD-based PC "that can run Rift" for $499. If you are making your own 45fps system you can achieve it with an Intel Core i3-6100, or AMD FX 4350 CPU, plus an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960-class card says Oculus.
As well as the above, Oculus showed off plenty of new software, announced new software features (such as meeting friends in VR with Oculus Parties and Rooms), revealed Oculus Earphones for Rift, and talked about its big investments in the VR ecosystem. Oculus asserts that VR will be "the next great computing platform".