Max Cohen, head of mobile, Oculus, at Code Mobile Adam Tow for Recode
Oculus’ main mobile effort thus far has been its partnership with Samsung on Gear VR, a mobile headset that uses Samsung Galaxy and Galaxy Note phones. Many of those who have the headset got it free when they bought their phone.
At the Evening with Code Mobile conference, taking place at Ericsson’s Santa Clara offices, Oculus’ Vice President of Mobile Max Cohen said “millions of users” have collectively spent more than 20 million hours in the Gear VR to date. And “that number is growing rapidly,” he added.
However, he readily acknowledged the limitations of “orientation only” VR devices, including the Gear VR and Google’s newly launched Daydream View. This category of devices allows users to look around in a virtual scene, but not move through it; more advanced devices are generally tethered to a PC.
“People think about the Holodeck,” Cohen said. “You’re not going to start with a mobile phone to get the Holodeck … It’s going to cost some money. You’re going to need a higher-end PC to run that.”
But he called lower-end VR devices “the mass market,” meaning they’re more likely to be people’s introduction to the medium.
Oculus has also talked about a third category of VR headset, a “stand-alone” device between the Gear VR and Oculus Rift that requires neither a high-end smartphone nor a high-end PC.
In October, it took the wraps off a prototype device that would let users move their whole bodies around in a virtual world thanks to “inside-out tracking.” That’s a fancy way of saying, “Cameras on the headset that track where you are in the world.”
“Both of these things [mobile and PC] are going to live on,” Cohen said. “That said, either mobile ‘drop-in’ or the ‘stand-alone’ form factor is how you’re going to get this into the hands of hundreds of millions, or billions, of people.”