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Mark Zuckerberg teases wireless Oculus VR headset

Somewhere between phone-based VR and the wired, PC-connected Oculus Rift, Zuckerberg introduces a peek at something new.

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A peek at inside-out computer vision tracking on Oculus.
Oculus

Oculus has another new VR platform on the horizon, and it looks like something different from PC- and phone-connected virtual reality.

At Oculus Connect on Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a lengthy appearance to discuss the future of VR software. He also introduced a surprise, acknowledging the need for something different -- hardware that's not a PC or mobile VR headset. It's a standalone device that looks completely wireless, like a VR version of Microsoft HoloLens.

Much like HoloLens, the VR prototype uses built-in positional tracking that relies on computer vision, tracking motion in-headset without any plug-in sensor bar camera.

Called "inside-out tracking," it's the sort of tech that virtual reality's been waiting for. Mixed-reality headsets like the HoloLens use inside-out tracking, but no VR headsets on the market can do this yet.

There are no plans for when inside-out tracking could appear in an Oculus VR product, and the teased demo at Oculus Connect was incredibly brief. But it's a reminder that the VR hardware we see now is far from where VR hardware will end up in the next couple of years. At the least, inside-out tracking could help make a mobile headset like Gear VR a lot more like the PC-connected Rift, letting users walk through space as if in a Star Trek holodeck. And it means Oculus could be on the road toward wireless for all of us.

Update, 4:12p.m. PT: We just tried the wireless Oculus Rift. Read about it right here.