The co-founder of Oculus, Nate Mitchell, has indicated that the virtual reality company has not forgotten about the professional VR headset space. Speaking to us at a pre-OC5 event, Mitchell confirmed the company wasn’t making any announcements in the high-end VR space, but when asked about rivalling HTC’s Vive Pro he confirmed Oculus “would not at all rule that out”.
It’s not the confirmation of new shiny tech that gamers might’ve been hoping for, but it’s a sign that the company, which announced a brand new standalone VR headset this week, isn’t totally giving up on PC headsets powered by a connection, whether tethered or otherwise, between the headset and a PC with a discrete graphics card.
Oculus Quest is the latest headset from Facebook’s virtual reality arm, but it’s a purely standalone device and doesn’t require a connection to your gaming PC. That leaves the Rift, the same headset we’ve been gaming on for over two and half years, as the only tethered PC gaming VR headset from Oculus for the immediate future.
“We don’t have any sort of pro headsets announced at this time,” Mitchell says. “But we’re always thinking about each of these different verticals or, really, audiences. How can we best serve them with the hardware, with the software, with the services, with the content. We try to think about this really as sort of a cohesive strategy and that all of those things together, ultimately, are the products”
Oculus’ competitor HTC launched a professional version of its HTC Vive headset at the start of the year: the HTC Vive Pro. It was met to mixed response from gamers – if you are wondering why, here’s the full HTC Vive Pro review – but, realistically, this new and improved HTC Vive 1.5 was targeting a different audience than its mainstream model: business.
Oculus is approaching applications for VR in the same way, with the recently announced standalone headset targeting a casual, and wide-reaching, audience, and the Rift another. Potentially, a Vive Pro headset could be on the cards in the future, tailored to capitalise on the professional side of VR and business applications – that includes popular ‘VR experiences’, too.
“So there’s all kinds of really neat stuff happening, it’s probably 40% games, 40% media, and 20% everything else. And we’re definitely trying to foster everything across the entire ecosystem, whether it is education, or simulation, and training, productivity, these are all really important to us over the long term.”
Oculus has confirmed the Oculus Quest will be the last of the initial wave of headsets from the company, and it sounds like Oculus will be shifting focus to content for the time being. That doesn’t leave much scope for a professional-grade headset anytime soon, but at least there’s a glimmer of hope, even if not specifically targeted at gamers, that Oculus hasn’t totally forgotten about high-end VR.