Facebook's Oculus is building a standalone virtual reality headset that, unlike its current Oculus Rift headset, does not need to be tethered to a computer with cables.
The new headset, which doesn't have a name and is just a prototype at the moment, would provide an option in between Samsung's Gear VR, which requires a Samsung phone, and the more expensive and high-powered headsets that Oculus and HTC and Sony are building, which require a PC.
The new headset was announced Thursday by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Oculus Connect, the company's annual developers conference in San Jose, Calif.
Zuckerberg warned that the headset isn't coming anytime soon, but still showed a short video that included footage of the prototype.
The new headset appears to be Facebook's next big effort to bring VR into the mainstream. The Rift is a consumer product, but it's an expensive consumer product that won't likely attract VR newbies thanks to the price tag and expensive computer needed to run it.
This new headset may offer something more powerful than Samsung's Gear VR, but it's still cheaper than Rift. Or it may also simply be a way to make a Gear VR-style device that doesn't require Samsung's help.
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Probably not coincidental: Google finally showed off its own standalone headset, called Daydream, earlier this week. That headset does require a phone, whereas Facebook's new project does not. But they will both likely target the same demographic: VR newbies looking for a cheaper, more mobile alternative to the heavy-duty headsets currently on the market.
Update: Facebook made a few other hardware announcements Thursday. Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe showed off new Oculus in-ear headphones as an alternative to the headset's current over-the-ear audio setup. The new headphones will sell as a standalone product and cost $49; they will be on sale next Monday, Oct. 10, and ship in early December.
Oculus also confirmed that Touch, its handheld controllers, will cost $199 and also go on sale Oct. 10 with an early December shipping date. (These are the same controllers that Oculus initially delayed late last year.)