If last year was anything to go by, we can expect a lot of interest to come out of this year’s Oculus Connect VR developers’ conference when it opens in San Jose, California on 11th October 2017.
OC3 saw a slew of notable announcements from Oculus and its parent company Facebook, including Mark Zuckerberg taking a selfie in VR to show off its social ambitions, the big reveal of the Oculus Touch motion controllers and the announcement that a standalone headset was in the works. A year on, and with VR quite a way further down the road towards maturity, we can again expect the tech giant to have more than a few grand revelations up its sleeve.
We already know a fair amount about what Oculus has planned, including several sessions across topics such as software engineering, product design and mixed reality. We can expect plenty of discussion around gaming – particularly eSports – although this year will no doubt reflect the rising number of non-gaming applications that have grown up around virtual reality, such as healthcare and education.
A standalone headset – and maybe more?
While last year’s Oculus Connect saw the announcement of an as-yet unreleased standalone headset (due out in 2018), this year we can almost certainly expect much more detail as to how this will look, including confirmation as to the price point (expected to be $200), the processing power (reported to be a Snapdragon processor, making it more powerful than the Oculus-made Samsung Gear VR) and whether it will incorporate positional tracking.
Attendees will also hope for more information on the company’s ‘Santa Cruz’ project, which is slated to be the next-generation, completely wireless version of its high end Rift headset.
Building a social VR space
Ever since Facebook bought Oculus, it seemed inevitable that social media would become an important part of the platform. Zuckerberg’s demonstration last year confirmed this, and Facebook Spaces is now available in Early Access mode. It will surely be a key area of focus again this year – and it’ll be interesting to see where the company is planning on taking this next, and who it’s working with to make this happen.
Rumours of Artificial Intelligence?
Among the wildest of rumours surrounding OC4 is the ‘reveal’ on Reddit by an anonymous user that Oculus is planning on implementing an AI assistant as part of its development pathway. Whether it’s true or not is merely conjecture at this point but, if it were true, it could raise several interesting possibilities, most notably the ability to perform complex tasks while in VR using voice commands.
Spatial Audio Technologies
Already confirmed on the line-up is a session on the role of audio in virtual reality. While this remains an unheralded element of VR, realistic 360° audio is certain to become a crucial part of making the VR experience more believable.
As well as discussing volumetric sound sources (which define 3D spaces from which a sound emanates) and modelling of head-related transfer functions (HTRF) to create spatial audio spaces, Oculus have also promised insight into Facebook's Spatial Workstation software and what their audio development roadmap looks like, which should give us a better idea about how VR sound is likely to evolve over the coming year.
Andrew Lucas Studios will be following OC4 this year – and we’ll be looking for new ideas to make our projects even better. To see the work we’ve done so far, click on the link below: