Image Credit: Oculus

Facebook is pushing the boundaries of virtual reality once again, as the company has taken wires out their latest headset, titled Project Santa Cruz, which is aimed at bringing the experience of high-end PC VR to untethered headset.

This is especially big news for VR. While mobile VR such as Google DayDream and Samsung Gear VR bring virtual reality to the masses with a compatible smartphone, the best quality VR remains tethered to a computer or similar. However, the new Project Santa Cruz is looking forward to change everything.

Major upgrades and new design integration have been made to sensors and trackers to enable this untethered experience. The Project Santa Cruz allows four wide angle lenses that track both your hands and the controllers. The device will track everything around your head and even objects that is behind you which suggest a much more immersive content.

2017 has been a exceptionally slow year for virtual reality, as barely any new headsets hit the market. We first heard about Oculus’s plan to work on untethered headset back in 2016,  but the company stated that no new headset will be available in 2017. It wasn’t until Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, took the stage at the recently Oculus Connect 4 to showcase a fully functional version of the headset.

Unfortunately, it may be awhile before this consumer version becomes available to the mass market, however, Oculus will be shipping out developer’s version in early 2018. There is not specific ship date yet, so it could be several months down the road before all the developer receive their headset.

The first Oculus Developer’s headset shipped in 2012, namely, the Oculus DK1. And it was until January of 2016 that pre-orders are available to the general public. Now doesn’t imply that we have wait several years to receive the Santa Cruz headset, as Oculus is now backed by social media Giant, Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg plans to let 1 billion people into virtual reality, so it might be possible that we could envision more and more people getting their hands on the headset before the end of 2018 by the new Oculus Go standalone headset. The new headset targets affordability and standalone is priced at $199 in the United States.

Given that the new Project Santa Cruz is the company’s new flagship virtual reality offering, it might be possible that the Rift might be replaced sooner or later.

Perhaps the most prominent feature is the inside-out tracking which involves putting all the sensor in the VR headset rather than having to place sensors and cameras around you. Thanks’ to the four wide-angle lenses and processors that track you controller and hand gestures in real-time.

The result is a magical 6-degrees of freedom and the ability to move back and forward, side to side, and up and down in virtual world. This is not something most of the current VR headsets offer, especially mobile offerings such as the Samsung Gear VR or DayDream which rely exclusively on the mobile device.

The new controllers feature tiny infrared LEDs which are tracked by the cameras in the VR headset.