In 2017, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stood on a stage and said he wants to get one billion people to try virtual reality.
Today at the Oculus Connect 5 conference in San Jose, California, he joked that their team is not even one per cent there.
“We have a saying at Facebook that the journey is one per cent finished — in this case maybe not even quite,” Zuckerberg said.
But, with more powerful standalone VR devices and more compelling VR media, the Facebook founder is confident they will get there.
Watch his keynote speech below:
So today, Zuckerburg announced their newest $399 headset, called Oculus Quest. It’s the third VR headset in their lineup and will sit between the company’s low-cost headset Oculus Go ($199) and its high-end tethered Oculus Rift headset ($399). It is the merge of Go’s self-contained headset style and Rift’s powerful graphics and lenses.
For those who didn’t know, Oculus Quest was formerly named ‘Santa Cruz’ in 2016 and 2017. It doesn’t require a PC, phone, or console to function.
The standalone VR headset has a built-in audio and will be the first wireless Oculus hardware to sport positional tracking, both for the headset itself and the dual hand Touch controllers. It uses four headset-mounted wide-angle cameras in front of the device to track the user’s motion and location accurately.
“This is it,” Zuckberger said, welcoming the applause that followed the unveiling of the Quest headset.
“This is the all-in-one VR experience we’ve been waiting for.“
The Quest headset is designed for people who are excited about high-end VR gaming but don’t PCs compatible with the Rift headset. Similarly, it is for Rift owners who are tired of all the wires.
Oculus is all-in about compatibility
During his 15-minute speech, Zuckerberg announced that the Quest’s visuals will be on par with the Rift headset because the company doesn’t want to deter developers by making their games and content obsolete when another Oculus headset comes out.
“Future versions of our product are going to be compatible with the old ones. All of the content that works for Rifts is going to work on the next version,” Zuckerburg said.
When the developers know that they don’t have to re-code their content to suit another headset, they will be more confident and inspired to make more immersive content. Sales will boost and the ten million virtual reality users today will grow.
Other catalysts of growth in the near future
Apart from standalone headsets and a sustainable family of VR devices, there are other technological milestones that the VR industry need to overcome before it can achieve one billion users.
One, the world needs to see a single headset that provides both high-quality AR and VR content. There are rumours that Apple will be the first one to combine both technologies. Who knows? Let’s wait until 2020.
While Apple works on their standalone AR+VR headset, Facebook is also developing their own mixed-reality devices. However, Facebook Hardware Chief Andrew Bosworth said that their AR+VR device won’t be ready for a while. He said that this project will be bigger than Facebook and we’ll hear a substantial update in the next five years (or less).
Another thing the world needs to see is VR Glasses, not Goggles or Headsets. People of the future will want to wear something more sleek and modern looking than our VR headsets today. Today, a lot of companies are already working on prototypes of these. We’ve also heard of fascinating patents for this technology such as holographic waveguides and fibre optic retina projection.
So, is One Billion VR Users Possible?
Yes. VR technology has a promising journey ahead of it. But, it won’t happen in a year or two. There is a slow adoption of VR. It’s going to be a long road to one billion users. And, we think that the journey will be epic.