Face­book’s Ocu­lus to start sell­ing hand con­trollers

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -


Face­book says it’s work­ing to make vir­tual re­al­ity more so­cial as the in­dus­try gets more crowded. With a host of lead­ing tech com­pa­nies now sell­ing VR prod­ucts, Face­book’s Ocu­lus divi­sion is hop­ing to dis­tin­guish its of­fer­ings with more in­ter­ac­tive and so­cial ex­pe­ri­ences. At an event Thurs­day, the com­pany an­nounced a lon­gawaited ship­ping date - Dec. 6 - for its Ocu­lus Touch hand con­trollers, de­signed to let users make ges­tures and grasp vir­tual ob­jects within the sim­u­lated worlds pro­jected by Ocu­lus Rift head­sets.

Face­book CEO Mark Zucker­berg, mean­while, donned one of those head­sets for an on­stage demon­stra­tion in which he vis­ited Mars, played vir­tual cards with two other peo­ple, then made a video call to his wife while stand­ing in a dig­i­tal sim­u­la­tion of his liv­ing room.

Zucker­berg said his com­pany has in­vested $250 mil­lion to back de­vel­op­ers build­ing new games and other vir­tual-re­al­ity pro­grams for Ocu­lus, and is vow­ing to dou­ble that amount. He also said the com­pany is work­ing on a pro­to­type for a mo­bile VR head­set that doesn’t have to be linked to a per­sonal com­puter, which the Ocu­lus Rift re­quires, while promis­ing a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence than cur­rent head­sets pow­ered by smart­phones, like those sold by Sam­sung and Google.

Other Ocu­lus ex­ec­u­tives showed a host of new vir­tual-re­al­ity games for their plat­form and new tools for soft­ware de­vel­op­ers to build pro­grams in which mul­ti­ple play­ers can in­ter­act.

In ad­di­tion to Zucker­berg, Ocu­lus CEO Bren­dan Iribe and other com­pany lead­ers spoke dur­ing a two-hour pre­sen­ta­tion, but co-founder Palmer Luckey did not ap­pear on stage. Luckey re­cently made a pub­lic apol­ogy for do­nat­ing $10,000 to a po­lit­i­cal group that boasted of cre­at­ing nega­tive so­cial me­dia posts about Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial con­tender Hil­lary Clin­ton.

Ocu­lus has been show­ing pro­to­types of its Touch hand con­trollers since last year, but started ship­ping its high-end vir­tual-re­al­ity head­sets with­out them this spring. Gart­ner tech an­a­lyst Brian Blau said the con­trollers will let peo­ple do more with the Ocu­lus sys­tem, which should in­crease con­sumer in­ter­est.

But they won’t be cheap. Ocu­lus will sell a pair of con­trollers, with a sen­sor de­vice, for $199. Ocu­lus says they’re de­signed to be more com­fort­able and in­tu­itive than tra­di­tional video game con­trollers, which can be pur­chased for less than $50.—AP

SAN FRAN­CISCO: This photo pro­vided by Ocu­lus shows a set of Ocu­lus Touch hand-held con­trollers, ex­pected to go on sale Dec. 6, 2016.—AP

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