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Facebook's Oculus to fight Apple's AR and VR push with new $200 standalone headset in 2018

Facebook's Oculus is apparently in the early stages of developing a standalone mobile headset, with use cases like watching a movie on a plane, without needing a connected computer or smartphone.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman believes that Oculus is seeking to expand to stand-alone devices, setting it apart from existing offerings necessitating a smartphone like Google Daydream or Samsung Gear VR. According to Thursday's report, the device will be driven by a Snapdragon processor of some sort, and will hit $200 price point at some point in 2018.

The device allegedly is code-named "Pacific" and on the exterior resembles a compact version of the Oculus Rift. It will feature Oculus branding in most of the world, and Xiaomi in China —probably because of Oculus executive Hugo Barra's involvement with the company prior to coming to Facebook.

The first iteration of the technology is not expected to include positional tracking —but it is allegedly on the road map for the future, according to sources familiar with the matter contacted by Bloomberg.

The rumored headset may not be a surprise, however. In October, Facebook CEO claimed that it had plans for a similar device, to attempt to take the technology main-stream.

"We all know where we want to improve and where we want virtual reality to eventually get—It's this feeling of real presence," said Zuckerberg. "We want hardware that's a lighter form factor and smaller, that can do both VR and AR, that can do eye tracing and mouth tracking and hand tracking."

The device may fight fairly significant headwinds, however. HTC and Lenovo are expected to rollout standalone headsets with Google's Daydream OS for release in 2017, as is Samsung based on Oculus technology.

Apple's ARKit will ship with iOS 11 in the fall. and instantaneously make iOS the largest AR platform, based on deployed devices.

Asked about the prospect of Apple-branded virtual and augmented reality products in the fall of 2016, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that while VR, such as that delivered by Oculus, promises "cool" applications for gaming and education, AR technology is of particular interest.

"There's virtual reality and there's augmented reality —both of these are incredibly interesting," Cook said to Roberts. "But my own view is that augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far."