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Facebook Ups the Ante in VR With Oculus Horizon & More

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In a bid to popularize its virtual reality (VR) offerings among the masses, Facebook’s (FB - Free Report) Oculus virtual reality unit unveiled a host of features and updates on Sep 25 at the sixth Oculus Connect developer conference in San Jose, CA.

Oculus Connect 6 focused on introduction of Facebook Horizon, a social VR world where users can design detailed individual avatars to interact and create their own spaces, including tropical hangout spots and interactive action arenas using World Builder, a collection of easy-to-use tools.

Additionally, the virtual experience includes “magic-like portals called telepods” that transport users from public spaces to adventure and multiplayer gaming spaces like Wing Strikers built by Facebook.

The beta version of Facebook Horizon is expected to be launched on Oculus Quest and Rift platform in early 2020.

Oculus Quest Updates

Facebook announced that consumers have spent $100 million on the Oculus Store of which 20% came from Oculus Quest alone. Feature additions and updates on Oculus Quest are expected to boost user engagement and product sales in the near term.

New Hand Tracking Features: Oculus has introduced hand tracking features using Quest’s onboard cameras, allowing users to interact with virtual reality using their hands without the need for Oculus Touch controllers, external sensors or gloves. The company expects the feature to help as input in augmented reality (AR) glasses in the future.

Oculus Link: The new Oculus link will enable Quest headset users to access popular games on the Rift Platform from their gaming PC. The company will release the software in beta this November and it will work with high-quality USB 3 cables.

Additionally, Oculus will also release a premium optical fiber cable with maximum throughput to run Rift content and a longer cord to enhance user experience in VR.

Passthrough+ Details

Passthrough+ comes with enhanced high-performance image processing and 3D computation. The feature provides users with stereoscopic, real-time view of the outside world while in VR.

Passthrough+ is already available on the Rift S and arrives on Quest next week. Additionally, Oculus is also working on Passthrough “on-demand” that will allow users to switch between viewing the virtual and real-world at will and will be available later this year.

Oculus Quest owners will also gain access to more than 50 Oculus Go applications starting next week. Additionally, updates have been lined up for Oculus TV, a central user hub available on Oculus Quest and Oculus Go.

Moreover, Oculus unveiled Media Studio, a media-management tool enabling creators to upload and publish immersive content directly to VR.

Further, the company also announced a new Oculus social platform powered by Facebook’s technology. Users can gain access by logging in to Facebook from the Oculus Platform to add friends, events, videos and chat, both in and outside of VR on the expanding VR communities on Facebook.

Growing Competition in VR Market

Major players such as Facebook’s Oculus, Alphabet’s (GOOGL - Free Report) Google, HTC, Samsung, Sony (SNE - Free Report) and Lenovo are making every effort to rapidly penetrate into the growing VR market.

Per a report from Mordor Intelligence, global VR market is expected to witness CAGR of 48.7% between 2019 and 2024. Another report from MarketWatch suggests that the VR market is expected to reach $44.7 billion by 2024.

VR headset manufacturers like HTC’s Vive and Vive Pro, Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality, Sony’s PlayStation VR, Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Daydream View provide competitive pricing and features, which is expected to intensify competition for Facebook’s Oculus Rift S, Rift and Quest.

However, Facebook’s array of new features and updates to Oculus Quest are expected to strengthen its presence in the VR space. Moreover, Facebook Horizon is expected to pose competition for Microsoft’s (MSFT - Free Report) Minecraft and Second Life.

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