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Facebook to Unveil Wireless VR Headset for the Masses

Inside The Oculus Connect 3 EventInside The Oculus Connect 3 Event
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., demonstrates an Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset and Oculus Touch controllers as the gives a demonstration during the Oculus Connect 3 event in San Jose, California, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. Facebook Inc. is working on a new virtual reality product that is more advanced than its Samsung Gear VR, but doesn't require connection to a personal computer, like the Oculus Rift does. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesDavid Paul Morris—Bloomberg via Getty Images

In 2014, Facebook acquired Oculus— virtual reality pioneer at the time—for $2 billion. Since then, Facebook has been pushing to bring virtual reality to the masses.

Facebook plans to unveil the new cheaper, wireless VR headset later in 2018, according to Bloomberg. The company hopes that the wireless headset will bridge the gap between expensive, high-end VR often used for gaming and the cheap VR headsets that link to smartphones.

“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,” said an Oculus spokesperson. “This is in addition to our commitment to high-end VR products like Oculus Rift and mobile phone products like Gear VR.”

Facebook’s upcoming VR headset is expected to sell for as little as $200 without the requirement of tethering it to pricy computers or smartphones to operate, Bloomberg reported. In contrast, Facebook’s existing headset, the Oculus Rift, costs $400 and requires an expensive desktop computer.

This seems to be Facebook’s latest solution to the lackluster interest in its Oculus Rift VR headset. Since its debut a year ago, sales have been slow. High-end VR headsets, in general, including the HTC Vive ($800), have been struggling. Samsung’s Gear VR, one of the cheaper headsets, is among the most popular with shipments of 490,000 headsets during its first quarter. Analysts believe the steep prices might be a contributing factor. As a result, Facebook has been cutting prices. Three days ago, it dropped the price of the Oculus Rift to $400, making it the cheapest high-end VR bundle on the market.

This is just another part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s push into VR. During a 2016 conference in San Jose, Calif., Zuckerberg announced Facebook would invest $250 million in companies and developers to create virtual reality content such as movies and video games.