Oculus, Facebook’s virtual reality company, is diving deeper into video with Oculus TV, a custom, 3D-rendered environment that will be centered by a large viewing screen, virtual seating area and serve as a content hub for an initial wave of partners.
Oculus TV, announced at this week’s F8 conference in San Jose, will focus on “serialized content” (including both live and on-demand) and provide a curated area for VR apps from partners such as Hulu and Showtime, with plans to add others, including Pluto TV, Red Bull TV and Facebook’s video app for TV next month. ESPN will be joining the Oculus TV mix later this year.
Oculus TV is set to launch this month, and sometime this summer will add the ability for up to four people to watch together in a virtual room.
The most significant VR hardware product news to come out of F8 was the commercial availability of the Oculus Go, the company’s first standalone VR headset that starts at $199 (for the 32 GB version; the 64 GB version sells for $249) and supports more than 1,000 apps and games at launch.
Oculus Go complements the Oculus Rift, which needs to be hooked to a high-octane PC. Oculus software also powers the Samsung Gear VR headset that works in tandem with compatible smartphones. Watch this promo video about Oculus’ new standalone VR headset:
Oculus Go will also compete with standalone VR headsets that will work with Google’s Daydream platform. Google and its CE partners have not announced a revised launch date for those products (originally they were expected to be out by the end of 2017) other than to say that they are coming “soon." More details could be announced at next week’s Google I/O developer conference
Oculus also introduced a “Venues” offering focused on live social events such as concerts, sports and comedy nights — an area that’s been a focus of AltSpaceVR, the social VR company acquired last fall by Microsoft.
Oculus has also redesigned Oculus Rooms, a social platform originally released for the Gear VR, with this week’s launch of Oculus Go.