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Oculus' Santa Cruz gets closer to the future of wireless VR

Oculus' Santa Cruz gets closer to the future of wireless VR
From Engadget - October 11, 2017

We were not allowed to take photos of the headset, but the photo seen here offers a good representation of what it looks like. From the mesh fabric surrounding the display to the adjustable head straps, the latest Santa Cruz prototype now looks almost like a wireless version of the Rift. It has an elastic strap along the top, while the rear plastic appears to be clad in a soft elastomer shell.

Putting it on was surprisingly easy -- I just wore it like a backward baseball cap -- and I was ready to go with just minimal adjustment. There's an IPD (interpupillary distance) wheel on the left underside if you want to adjust that too. On the whole, the headset feels soft, snug and lightweight -- easily one of the most comfortable VR headsets I have ever tried.

Then, an Oculus helper placed the new Santa Cruz controllers on my hands. They instantly feel much more compact than the Touch, with a fatter, stubbier grip. Also notable is the lack of a thumbstick; in its place is a large circular touchpad. One big reason for this design difference is that the Oculus folks wanted the infrared LED ring to face upwards, in order to get better tracking from the headset. And in order to move the ring to the top, some design adjustments had to be made. The grip and trigger buttons are still there, however, and feel easy enough to press.

I was instantly launched into a demo, where I was instructed to feed and play with an adorable dog-dinosaur creature hybrid. I used my virtual hands to pluck fruit from the tree and feed them to it, and I also threw a stick into the distance to have the creature fetch it for me. And because I was not tethered to a PC, I could walk around the room with ease and did not have to worry about tripping over wires. Using the controllers as virtual hands felt pretty natural (thanks to the 6DOF tracking), and I got used to it fairly quickly.

I was then guided to yet another demo, and it was set in the Dead and Buried universe, where I was instructed to fend off zombies. This time, feeling untethered really made a big difference. I was able to swing around 360-degrees and shoot the undead that were coming at me from all sides. What's more, I was able to walk around the room to pick up additional weapons and gear (they included a shotgun, dynamite and a big shield). I even pressed down on an Acme-style TNT bomb detonator to set off an area of explosion.

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