If you own any PC-based VR headset today, you’ll know about the hassle that comes with keeping all of the required cables tidy. In October 2017, Oculus announced that its next-generation Rift headset, currently known as Project Santa Cruz, will cut the cords entirely. It removes the need for a high-end PC (or, rather, a PC entirely) by offering a stand-alone VR experience operated by the unit itself and nothing else. Here’s everything we know about Oculus Santa Cruz so far.
Cutting the cords
Project Santa Cruz was originally teased in 2016 with an early prototype. We took it for a spin last year and found it to be curiously comfortable for a headset that looked as if it was an Oculus Rift with some additional parts. In the year and change that has passed since we last saw Santa Cruz, it has ditched some of the excess parts around its bands (including the mobile phone attached to the back) in favor of a sleeker, more form-fitting design. Whether this translates to increased comfort remains to be seen.
Unlike the Oculus Go, which also cuts the cords to deliver a Gear VR-comparable experience, the Santa Cruz seeks to deliver PC-quality VR in a stand-alone package. While we haven’t seen anything in action using Santa Cruz up until now, the goal is to emulate high-end VR experiences without the need for cords or an external computer. The original prototype used processors that could be utilized in mobile phones, but the total package managed to deliver inside-out tracking — which is not currently available on mobile VR.
New Oculus Touch controllers
It’s not PC-quality VR without motion controllers, and Oculus has redesigned the Oculus Touch controllers specifically for the Santa Cruz. The controllers, which have wide rings atop their handles, use the infrared LEDs from the original Touch controllers. Four ultra-wide camera sensors in the headset allow for precise head and controller tracking and give the player a wide range of movements while using two controllers.
When can you experience PC quality VR without a PC?
Oculus has not set an official launch window for Project Santa Cruz. At Oculus Connect 4, the company said it will send Santa Cruz to developers in 2018. In other words, we’re definitely still a ways off.