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Facebook Working on $200 Standalone VR Headset (Report)

Facebook is working on a low-cost standalone virtual reality (VR) headset, Bloomberg reported Thursday. The device, which the company aims to sell for around $200, could launch in 2018, according to the report.

“We don’t have a product to unveil at this time, however we can confirm that we’re making several significant technology investments in the standalone VR category,”  a Facebook spokesperson told Variety. “This is in addition to our commitment to high-end VR products like Oculus Rift and mobile phone products like Gear VR.”

This new headset would be a lot less powerful than Facebook’s existing Oculus Rift headset, which currently sells for $400. That’s because the Rift is being powered by an external computer with high end-graphics rendering capabilities,  which easily can add another $1000 to the bill for an in-home VR set-up.

The $200 headset on the other hand would be self-contained, and not require a phone or a PC to run it. The idea, according to Bloomberg, is to make simple VR games and 360-degree video easier to consume, giving users a way to quickly slip on their headset for brief periods of time.

Facebook previously announced that it was working on a high-end standalone headset with capabilities similar to that of the Rift, which at the time was code-named “Santa Cruz.”

The $200 device seems to be a separate effort, and is reportedly being developed in conjunction with Chinese smart phone maker Xiaomi. Facebook’s new VP of virtual reality Hugo Barra previously worked as VP of Global at Xiaomi.

Facebook isn’t the only company looking to sell a standalone VR headset. Google announced at its I/O developer conference in May that it was building wireless Daydream headsets together with HTC and Lenovo. However, these devices are expected to be more powerful Facebook’s new effort, and will likely sell for $500 or more.

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