The chief executive officer of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, is on record as saying that with regards to virtual reality, the social media giant is more interested in developing a virtual reality software platform that is popular rather than becoming a major vendor of VR hardware.
“We’re mostly interested in the software. But there is a time early on in the development of any new platform where you really need to do the hardware and the software at the same time,” said Zuckerberg in an interview that he gave last year.
As was evidenced during the unveiling of a standalone virtual reality headset on October 11, Facebook is doing a decent job with its VR hardware especially because it is making the devices more affordable. However, with regards to pushing boundaries the Palo Alto, California-based social media firm could be making a mistake.
During its Oculus Connect event which was held last week, Facebook unveiled Oculus Go headset which retails at $199. It’s a standalone VR headset and does not require pairing with other devices such as a smartphone or a desktop computer. This was in contrast to Oculus Rift which was launched last year and which has to be paired with a personal computer. Other VR headsets which require to be connected to a PC include HTC Vive which is based on Windows Mixed Reality, a platform developed by Microsoft.
Some headsets such as PlayStation VR developed by Sony require to be connected to a gaming console, in this case PlayStation 4. Samsung Gear VR, on the other hand, requires to be paired with a premium smartphone from the South Korean conglomerate.
The fact that the Oculus Go is standalone however has reduced its functionality when compared to headsets which have to be paired with gaming consoles or personal computers. Oculus Go for instance cannot track the movements of a user in a room as it has no external sensors. And because it is running on a Snapdragon 821 chip it has limited processing power which renders it unable to compete with the PC or console-paired VR headsets which are more powerful.
Additionally, despite Facebook’s chief executive last year vouching for OLED displays as the only way to reduce motion blur in virtual reality, the Oculus Go comes with an LCD panel which results in an inferior display experience. And unlike the Oculus Rift which has two highly advanced motion controllers, Oculus Go only possesses one basic motion controller.