What is Oculus GO?
One of the problems that hinders VR technology today is the VR enclosure itself. Today, in order to get into VR, you have to wear specialized display goggles that will have to separate your senses from the real world. This goggles known as an HMD (head mounted display) are often bulky, heavy and tethered by cables to a powerful computer.
The use of smartphones has paved the way for a much less costlier and more practical alternative. However, even at it's highest end, smartphone technology at it's present time will not be able to compete with the visual quality provided by the tethered HMD's. Regardless, mobile VR systems like the Samsung Oculus Gear VR and the Google Daydream have brought wireless VR gaming to the masses at a quality and immersion that could be deemed as competitive enough in the VR industry.
Enter the Oculus Go. The Go will be the third HMD product of Oculus. However, not to be confused with the high-end Oculus Santa Cruz wireless HMD which is still under development, the GO is more like a Gear VR that eliminates the need for a smartphone to run.
Oculus Go is basically a compact micro-computer ( think of something as small as the Raspberry Pi ) with the computing power to execute VR content and display them. The display however relies on a single high end Quad HD 2,560 x 1,440 fast switching LCD screen with a refresh rate of 72 Hz. The unit also uses an upgraded version of the lenses found on the Rift and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor as well as the usual accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer sensors built into it. It also has a 110º field-of-view as well as integrated spatial audio.
Using an audio headset or earphones with the Oculus Go would be optional as the spatial audio is piped through the straps of the headset itself so anyone within earshot will be able to hear what you hear. A 3.5mm audio jack is provided however in case you would rather have some audio privacy. For transferring data and power charge, a micro-USB port is provided beside the audio jack.
The Oculus Go adheres to a simplistic design layout that aside from the mentioned ports there are only two controls on the headset itself to fiddle with. These are the power switch and the volume control located at the top of the HMD. As compared to the Oculus Rift, the Go uses a much better textured and ventilated fabric coating and the head straps are made from a soft elastic fiber that fits far better than the Rifts original plastic and Velcro strap.
The Go headset was designed to be as friendly looking and unobtrusive as possible and not something that looks like a sci-fi gadget such as the Rift or HTC Vive. In fact, the design is similar to the Google Daydream providing the kind of comfort and ease of use specially for those who are new to and just starting with VR. One disadvantage though would be the weight as the Go has more integrated components packed into the headset itself like a rechargeable battery that would definitely add to the weight of the device.
When it comes to the handheld controller, the Oculus Go uses a similar controller design to that of the Gear VR and Google Daydream. It easily fits into the hand and the touchpad and trigger locations are intuitively accessible and comfortable for the player. The Go comes with its own integrated customized Android operating and menu system and at the GDC demo this year came with two thrilling VR games that demonstrated it's capabilities very well.
As a VR product, the Oculus Go is an innovative upgrade for the mobile VR industry as it's integration removes the need to keep on inserting your smartphone into the headset as well as the overheat problems that come with it. However, the option is still with the user as swapping high-end smartphones may still be a better alternative for some specially when the phone breaks down and swapping in a second phone to continue gaming while having the first phone repaired is the thing to do. Nevertheless, whatever the outcome will depend on the performance, practicality and availability of the Oculus Go by the time it gets released this 2018. Set at a price of around 200 USD, let's wait and see.