Going into my hands-on demo with Oculus’ Undertaking Santa Cruz headset, assume I forgot the way it felt to be shocked by digital actuality. We’re arising on three years for the reason that final main advance in VR, which I’m going to peg as the primary time I attempted the HTC Vive’s room-scale expertise. Since then we’ve seen just a few refinements—Oculus Rift’s built-in headphones and lighter type issue, the remarkably comfy and intuitive Oculus Touch controllers—however the elementary tech has stayed fairly just like the Vive demo I noticed in 2015.

And I assume I acquired complacent. I forgot about—properly, articles like this, the place I wrote about waving again to a digital alien. That feeling of seeing one thing actually new.

That feeling got here speeding again throughout my Undertaking Santa Cruz demo yesterday, as I closed out my day on the fourth annual Oculus Join. It’s unimaginable.

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

Oculus Santa Cruz hands-on

I assumed we had been additional away from wi-fi VR, I assume. Not Samsung Gear VR-quality cellular wi-fi. We’ve had that for some time, and the newly introduced $199 Oculus Go headset (releasing in early 2018) appears to be a continuation of that ecosystem with out the dependence on a separate cellphone buy. That house has carried out some spectacular issues on cellular structure, however it’s nonetheless phone-quality apps. Cell VR is pretty easy, pretty small, and restricted by the —which means no place monitoring of both the headset or separate controllers.

IDG / Hayden Dingman

PC-based VR headsets just like the HTC Vive proven right here have thick cables on the again that connect with your pc.

Oculus CTO John Carmack has been bullish on wi-fi VR for some time although, and for good purpose. Cords suck. The tether constructed into the present technology of Rift and Vive headsets isn’t that distracting, however it’s simply annoying sufficient to often take you out of the expertise and kill an in any other case incredible second.

However a desktop-quality VR expertise with full position-tracking, hand controllers, a easy body fee, and top-tier visuals? I didn’t assume it was potential with out wi-fi but. And I used to be improper.

Oculus was fairly tight-lipped about Santa Cruz’s specs, however did allow us to go hands-on with two completely different demos. The primary, Boundless, put me nose to nose with one of many cutesy aliens from Rift launch title Farlands. It was a fairly simplistic demo, simply letting me feed the alien fruit, pat it on the pinnacle, play fetch, and so forth.

The opposite, Timestall, was harking back to Epic’s infamous Bullet Practice demo. I used to be tasked with defending a cryogenic pod from an oncoming robotic assault, however because the robots approached time…properly, stalled. Froze. No matter. Bullets hung in mid-air, as did bits of shrapnel, a pair of drones, and an enemy robotic. I might seize these objects and rearrange them, turning bullets again on their homeowners, throwing rocks within the path of different bullets, and so forth. It was a bit like a puzzle sport wrapped inside each motion scene from The Matrix.

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