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With the challenges of the COVID-19 world as a backdrop, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the Facebook Connect developer conference on Wednesday with updates to its virtual and augmented reality initiatives, including the launch of the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset and applications aimed at helping users “feel like you are together, no matter the physical distance.”
“I held my first management meeting in VR since the pandemic began,” Zuckerberg said, projecting “50 percent of our employees to work remotely long term.” He added that tools initially developed to connect employees while working remotely would later be make available to customers through the company’s products.
The keynote featured the launch of Oculus Quest 2, a new model of its wireless VR headset slated for availability on Oct. 13. Advancements include a higher resolution LCD display (1,832 x 1,920 pixels per eye), more precise tracking in its new touch controllers, increased graphics processing power and a redesigned form factor.
Quest 2 starts at $299 and is available for pre-order. With the news, Facebook reported that it will cease sales of its PC-tethered Rift VR headset in 2021. Quest 2 will have access to PC content with Oculus Link.
In its “road to AR,” Facebook reported that it would debut its first “smart glasses” next year with frames designed through a partnership with EssilorLuxottica (Ray-Ban), though it emphasized that these are not AR devices. It also described its more advanced Project Aria through which individuals will begin to use this “research device” of in real-world situations to better understand AR requirements.
Content announcements included news that Jurassic World as well as Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell franchises are coming to the Oculus platform.
Jurassic World Aftermath is a partnership between Oculus Studios, Universal Games and Digital Platforms, and UK-based Coatsink Games. Launching later this year, it’s described as an adventure set on Isla Nublar two years after the fall of Jurassic World. While on a mission to recover information, the user is trapped in an abandoned research facility while being hunted by Velociraptors.
The Ubisoft titles are being developed for the Oculus platform by Ubisoft’s Red Storm in collaboration with Ubisoft Reflections, Ubisoft Dusseldorf and Ubisoft Mumbai. A launch date wasn’t announced.
Also Wednesday, the teaser trailer was released for Star Wars: Tales From the Galaxy’s Edge, which is slated for availability on Quest this holiday season. The trailer features the voice of Anthony Daniels, who has played C-3PO in every Star Wars film and with this project reprises his iconic role in VR for the first time. Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB also reported that Yoda will appear in one of the upcoming Tales.
“I am so thrilled to bring C-3PO to life again in this fascinating dimension,” said Daniels in a released statement. “I love it that fans will actually be able to be a part of his perilous adventures, standing beside him, on the distant planet of Batuu.”
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