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Hands-on: Oculus Santa Cruz proves overwhelming wireless VR isn’t a siren dream

Going into my hands-on demo with Oculus’ Project Santa Cruz headset, consider we forgot how it felt to be astounded by practical reality. We’re entrance adult on 3 years given a final vital allege in VR, that I’m going to brace as a initial time we attempted the HTC Vive’s room-scale experience. Since afterwards we’ve seen a few refinements—Oculus Rift’s built-in headphones and lighter form factor, a remarkably gentle and discerning Oculus Touch controllers—but a elemental tech has stayed flattering identical to a Vive demo we saw in 2015.

And we theory we got complacent. we forgot about—well, articles like this, where we wrote about fluttering behind to a practical alien. That feeling of observant something really new.

That feeling came rushing behind during my Project Santa Cruz demo yesterday, as we sealed out my day during a fourth annual Oculus Connect. It’s incredible.

[ Further reading: HTC Vive vs. Oculus Rift vs. Windows Mixed Reality: What’s a difference? ]

Oculus Santa Cruz hands-on

I suspicion we were serve divided from wireless VR, we guess. Not Samsung Gear VR-quality mobile wireless. We’ve had that for a while, and a newly announced $199 Oculus Go headset (releasing in early 2018) seems to be a delay of that ecosystem nonetheless a coherence on a apart phone purchase. That space has finished some considerable things on mobile architecture, nonetheless it’s still phone-quality apps. Mobile VR is sincerely simple, sincerely small, and singular by a hardware—meaning no position tracking of possibly a headset or apart controllers.

HTC Vive + Deluxe Audio Strap IDG / Hayden Dingman

PC-based VR headsets like a HTC Vive shown here have thick cables on a behind that bond to your computer.

Oculus CTO John Carmack has been bullish on wireless VR for a while though, and for good reason. Cords suck. The fasten built into a stream era of Rift and Vive headsets isn’t that distracting, nonetheless it’s usually irritating adequate to spasmodic take we out of a knowledge and kill an differently illusory moment.

But a desktop-quality VR knowledge with full position-tracking, palm controllers, a well-spoken support rate, and top-tier visuals? we didn’t consider it was probable nonetheless wireless yet. And we was wrong.

Oculus was flattering tight-lipped about Santa Cruz’s specs, nonetheless did let us go hands-on with dual opposite demos. The first, Boundless, put me face to face with one of a cutesy aliens from Rift launch pretension Farlands. It was a flattering uncomplicated demo, usually vouchsafing me feed a visitor fruit, pat it on a head, play fetch, and so on.

The other, Timestall, was suggestive of Epic’s scandalous Bullet Train demo. we was tasked with safeguarding a cryogenic pod from an approaching drudge attack, nonetheless as a robots approached time…well, stalled. Froze. Whatever. Bullets hung in mid-air, as did pieces of shrapnel, a span of drones, and an rivalry robot. we could squeeze these objects and file them, branch bullets behind on their owners, throwing rocks in a trail of other bullets, and so on. It was a bit like a nonplus diversion wrapped inside each movement stage from The Matrix.

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