Wednesday marked another important event for Facebook as it hosted the Facebook Connect 7. This year’s event was jammed into one day, and the keynote lasted roughly two hours long. In addition to the keynote, there were many virtual sessions, panels, and even live performances that ran throughout the day. The event included a wide assortment of announcements having to do with virtual and augmented reality. These announcements included a new headset for VR purposes, the phasing out of an older model, and new games and apps.
The focal point of the event was on the VR division of Facebook known as Oculus. In addition, there were announcements relating to “smart glasses” with the help of Ray-Ban and also a new AR initiative known as Aria. Below are the highlights from Facebook Connect 7.Read More »
Facebook will be offering all of its VR hardware now in an all-in-one headset, the Oculus Quest 2. This new version of the Oculus Quest will have improved features, particularly the screen and will also include things that have gotten better since the products initial launch in May 2019. This includes the Oculus Link. This headset will also need a user to login to Facebook as opposed to a separate account for the Oculus. This has been a somewhat controversial move that the social networking company has now implemented a full 6 years after it acquired Oculus.
This new all-in-one device will be available on October 13th and will cost $299 (64 GB) in 22 countries. A headset with 256 GB of storage space will run buyers $399. Preorders are already open.
No more Oculus Rift, but PC VR is here to stay
At the end of 2021, Facebook will retire the Rift S. On the other hand, Oculus will still support PC-only VR games. This includes the upcoming Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond game from Respawn, among others. The Link feature on the Oculus Quest 2 will allow users to attach their headsets into a computer with a USB-C port.
This is also an important step for Link, which is currently in beta after a launch last year. It will also receive an upgrade that will give it a better refresh rate (up to 90Hz from 72Hz) which will allow it to capitalize on the higher resolution found on the new Quest 2.
Ray-Ban is partnering with Facebook to offer ‘smart glasses’
The tech giant has been pondering the introduction of augmented reality glasses for some time, and it looks like it will now do so in partnership with Ray-Ban. These glasses will not do things that are found in the typical AR device like project holograms, but they will likely give users info through audio among other functions.
In relation, Facebook is releasing an initiative concerning AR with the name Project Aria. Facebook employees have already been testing these glasses equipped with a camera in order to solve issues relating to privacy and other problems. Facebook is adhering to several guidelines with Project Aria that have to do with how to use these devices around other people. The company is even offering several grants to study the reactions garnered from these devices.
Quest 2 will offer more features outside of gaming
Facebook is seeking to gain a new audience with its release of the new Oculus and is offering a number of new features that are not related to gaming. The Quest 2 will have apps that focus on fitness tracking, better communication, and a number of virtual workplace apps.
One of the fitness related apps being championed by Facebook is Oculus Move, which will follow a person’s fitness goals and is inspired by popular apps like Beat Saber. Facebook Messenger will also be available for the Quest 2, which will give Facebook users a way to cast games they are playing to others.
Finally, the Quest 2 will offer several business friendly features. This includes apps meant to be used for the workplace like Spatial and Infinite Office. Infinite Office will combine a number of screens with a video feed. This will certainly bring workers a fun and unique way to consume their daily workflow. This feature will be available this winter.
More VR games coming based on many popular titles
The Oculus Quest 2 will of course offer one of its bread and butter products, a new batch of games based on popular titles. Facebook has also put out several trailers for some of these games, which include Warhammer 40,000 Battle Sister, The Climb from Crytek, and a new version of Myst. In addition, there will be new games relating to the Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell franchises. Finally, Oculus gamers can look forward to a new Star Wars game, Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge.
Facebook hopes that the release of all of these new products will interest consumers during the fourth quarter of 2020 and in the lead up to the holiday season. Introducing all of these new products in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic is a smart move by the tech giant, since many people are spending large chunks of time at home and have more time to spend on these kinds of highly addictive products.
The move to add more non-gaming features is also a long-term goal for the social networking company to appeal to a different audience, especially as many people move to remote working or non-traditional office opportunities.