Oculus Connect 4, Facebook's developer conference for VR, is wrapped, and we're still digesting all the information we learned and demo time with the Santa Cruz prototype we experienced during our visit. While Oculus didn't have anything to say about a follow-up to its flagship Rift headset, the announcements it made about standalone VR hardware left us with plenty of questions about the company's product strategy, state of technolgy R&D, and approach to the spectrum of virtual reality experiences on the path to getting a billion people into VR. We were able to ask some of those questions in our annual check-in with Oculus' Head of Rift Nate Mitchell--a lively and enlightening conversation that's a highlight of our Oculus Connect coverage. But policy changes this year prevented us from filming the interview, so we shared some takeaways in our event recap video. In reviewing our interview notes, several points stood out that we didn't convey or stress enough in our day-of recap, so we're sharing those here for clarification and posterity.
We started off asking about Oculus Go and the Santa Cruz prototype and how they fit in a future product lineup for Oculus. Nate talked a bit about how the feature set for Go was determined, and how it, along with Santa Cruz, are on a mobile product track that's separate from Rift. Said Nate, "As you can see with Project Santa Cruz, that may not be our only offering in the standalone product category. You can imagine over time, a good, better, or even a good, better, best approach. But sort of like the most affordable, best experience standalone device you can build, we think Go really competes right there."
Oculus was also coy about the hardware running Go, and its performance targets. For example, would Go offer the equivalent performance of a Samsung Galaxy S7, S8, or better? Nate would only say that it would be comparable: "You
can just think of it roughly as equivalent to Gear VR. Roughly [Gear VR as it is shipping today]. I mean, we support a number of past generations of Gear VR today, but you can imagine it's on the same compute envelope as Gear VR."
"Not all of the hardware's locked down" was the reason given for not sharing information like the screen refresh rate on Go, though we suspect it'll be 60Hz like on Gear VR. Also unclear was whether the Android UI would be surfaced at all to users, or the interface when putting on the headset. "We are committed to making it an even better experience than Gear VR. Which is not a very high bar, but a really good experience. So we're doing a lot of neat stuff that we're excited about," said Nate.