Oculus VR's annual developers conference has kicked off

The event's keynote usually features notable Oculus figureheads, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. However, Oculus itself has faced a tough year, as its founder, Palmer Luckey, was pushed out by its parent company, Facebook. So, what's in store for Oculus going forward, and does it have any hardware announcements coming? We've just begun to find out. Here's what was announced.

Oculus Connect 4 is Oculus' fourth annual developers conference. It started on 11 October 2017 and will run until 12 October 2017 in San Jose, CA. The conference features over 40 technical talks, workshops, and roundtables about the company's products and development in virtual reality. But the main keynote is by far the most interesting event on the agenda, at least from a consumer perspective.

Last year, at Oculus Connect 3, Oculus announced a release date and pricing for its Touch controllers. It also introduced a new audio product for Rift, called Earphones. And Zuckerberg introduced a VR headset prototype that works without cables. It's called Santa Cruz, which you can read all about from here. He further demoed two social VR experiences, dubbed Oculus Parties and Oculus Rooms.

The keynote began on 11 October at 10am PST (1pm EST/6pm BST).

The live stream of the Connect 4 keynote was broadcasted from Twitch, but you can watch the stream again through Facebook (above). You can also watch live in VR through the Oculus Connect app, but it’s limited to Rift and Gear VR owners.

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Oculus announced a standalone VR headset. Called Oculus Go, it costs $199 and is designed to sit between mobile VR, like what you'd get with the Gear VR headset, and high-end headsets that require a PC, such as the Oculus Rift. The Oculus Go will be available for developers to use from November 2017, while the rest of us will have to wait until next year to get our hands on it.

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This headset was first unveiled last year at Connect, and was described as a way to experience VR without having to be tethered to a PC or tracked by external cameras. The original prototype was an extremely early design, but we could see where Oculus was going with it. Today, the design is much sleeker, and amazingly, it includes true six-degrees-of-freedom motion control.

Oculus said it offers full "inside-out" tracking, with no wires and no external sensors. Alongside this new headset, Oculus has also introduced a new controller, called the Santa Cruz controllers, naturally. They look sort of like the Touch, with a grip button and a touchpad. Details are still slim, but Oculus said the Santa Cruz developer version will start shipping in 2018.

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Oculus announced earlier this year that it cut the price of its Rift headset and Touch motion controllers by $100 (about £80) each, making the cost of a complete system just $598. Previously, the Rift had a $599 (£499) price tag, while Touch was priced at $199 (£189). Now, Oculus has permanent reduced the price for Rift again, dropping the bundle price from $499 to $399.

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Three years after making the source code for the Oculus Rift DK1 open to all, and on the eve of its Connect 4 conference, Oculus has released the Rift Development Kit 2 (DK2) to the public. The company also briefly discussed what this means for developers going forward.

Oculus also announced the following at Connect 4:

  • Dash: A new UI and menu experience for Rift.
  • New Content: Coco, Pixar's first VR experience, is coming to Rift on 15 November and Gear VR on 22 November; Stranger Things/Face Your Fears, a new experience, which directly ties to Netflix's Stranger Things, launches on Halloween; and MARVEL Powers United VR - Thor Reveal, a new game that will launch in 2018 with more than 20 playable characters.