Today's Oculus Connect 3 keynote covered a lot of ground. Over two hours of speechmaking Facebook and Oculus executives covered everything from release dates, prices, content, social, and diversity, to mobile SDKs and foveated rendering. If you want to relive it the way it happened, you can check out our liveblog, or watch the whole keynote on Facebook.
Here are some of the highlights:
Mark Zuckerberg took a VR selfie
Facebook's CEO is an obvious fan of VR, and not just in a I-spent-$2-billion-on-this-so-it-better-be-good sort of way. He explained how he's been sharing VR with world leaders, and then went on to do an extensive live demo of a new social experience Facebook is building for VR. Accompanied by Lucy and Michael, the trio played cards, chess, fought with swords, visited a live 360 view of Zuckerberg's office, and then said hi to his dog. They even brought in Mark's wife Priscilla for a video call and they took a "21st century family portrait."
A new standalone headset is in the works
Zuckerberg also announced an upcoming standalone VR headset, designed as a happy medium between the enthusiast-centric Oculus Rift and the affordable but limited Gear VR. It will have position tracking, which is the biggest differentiator between mobile and desktop VR experiences right now outside graphic fidelity. The headset is only in a prototype phase, and there was no word on when to expect it to ship.
Oculus Touch will actually be released!
We've waited for so long, and we'll have to wait a little bit longer, but Oculus finally announced when we can get our hands on its motion controllers: December 6th. The controllers cost $199, and include an extra camera sensor for tracking. You can also add a third sensor for $79 to get Oculus's version of "room-scale" VR.
Oculus will sell $49 in-ear headphones
Also shipping in December are new in-ear Rift headphones, which can be swapped in for the existing (and great) on-ear headphones the Rift comes with.
Oculus Avatars bring vaporwave to the masses
Somewhat different than the social experience Facebook is designing, Oculus is making customizable avatars and a cool hangout spot where you and your seven chillest customized friends can hang out, play games, and can enter other VR games together as a party.
Games, games, games
Social stuff is nice, but what's a VR ecosystem without games? Nothing at all, and Oculus wasn't remiss in showing off a few upcoming titles. We actually already got to check out a bunch of Oculus Touch games before the keynote, so be sure to read our thoughts! Robo Recall and Lone Echo in particular look amazing.
There will be Disney and Blade Runner shorts!
On the passive content side, Oculus announced a partnership with Disney for original short films based on classic characters. And, also, there are going to be VR experiences based on the upcoming Blade Runner film, so that sounds wonderful.
Everything will be better in five years
Ending the keynote on a nerdy and optimistic note, Oculus head scientist Michael Abrash talked for half an hour about how VR tech will progress in the next five years. It was technical and inspiring. His story of how John Carmack recruited him was exceptionally touching, and underlined the passion that exists at this company to make VR a reality. It's reflected in the big checks Oculus is cutting to prime the content pump, and in the sheer enthusiasm of people like Abrash and Carmack.