..😯| Facebook announces $399 Oculus Quest standalone VR headset

Facebook Oculus — Devious Republic

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Facebook's next virtual reality headset is finally ready.

The Oculus Quest, a standalone VR headset that uses touch controllers, will go on sale next spring for $399. Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the product on Wednesday at the company's Oculus Connect developer conference in San Jose.

Facebook has been teasing the headset, which was previously known as the Santa Cruz prototype, for two years. The Oculus Quest represents a kind of middle ground between the company's Oculus Go headset and the high-end Oculus Rift, which requires a PC. 

Oculus Quest is a self-contained headset, like the $199 Oculus Go, but offers an experience that's much closer to the more expensive Rift. It's equipped with sensors that enable positional tracking, so you can freely move around a room without bumping into your surroundings (what's known as "six degrees of freedom" in VR parlance), and uses the same touch controllers as the Rift.

But unlike the Rift, which is still considered Oculus' "gold standard" according to Facebook, the Quest offers a truly untethered experience. There are no wires and no PC required: the headset uses sensors and computer vision software to detect your surroundings and warn you when you're getting close to a wall or a piece of furniture.

When the Quest goes on sale in the spring of 2019 — Facebook didn't provide an exact launch date — there will be more than 50 titles available, including some popular Rift games like Robo Recall. And Lucasfilm's ILMxLab announced that its Vader Immortal VR series will launch for Oculus Quest in 2019.

With the launch of the Quest, Facebook has reached an important milestone towards its VR ambitions. The standalone headset has long been heralded by the company as an important step to encourage widespread VR adoption. Zuckerberg said the Quest will complete the company's first generation of Oculus devices.

Facebook also previewed several new features to VR developers, including updated avatars and a new "casting" ability. The latest "expressive avatars" are meant to be much more realistic with "simulated eye and mouth movement and subtle micro-expressions."

Additionally, an upcoming "casting" feature will let people watch what their friends are doing in VR via their phone or TV. 

The Oculus app is also being updated to support the Rift, so Rift owners can browse, buy, and install games from their phones.

Facebook The Manifold — Devious Republic

Finally, Facebook also showed off a new professional-grade 360-degree camera that's the result of a partnership wth 3D camera-maker RED. Called the Manifold, the camera features a staggering 16 8k cameras for 360-video and uses Facebook's software to capture 3D data.