On stage at Oculus Connect today, Facebook Reality Labs Chief Scientist Michael Abrash revealed two new prototype VR headsets from the company, Half Dome 2 and Half Dome 3. Both headsets offer improvements over the original Half Dome prototype showed off last year.

Last year Facebook showed off Half Dome, a prototype VR headset which offered up a much larger field of view than current Rift or Quest headsets, as well as varifocal displays which allows the headset to display a more comfortable and natural view to our human eyes.

Today the company revealed two new versions of Half Dome, simply called Half Dome 2 and Half Dome 3. While both still aim to deliver a wider field of view and varifocal display, they also focus on reducing the form-factor to make headsets smaller and more comfortable.

While the original Half Dome used mechanic actuators to move the screen in order to achieve the varifocal feature, Half Dome 2 does this through a voice coil actuator which reduces sound and vibrations of the varifocal mechanism to “imperceptible” levels.

What’s more, Half Dome 2 brings major advancements in the optical pipeline, substantially reducing the size of the headset form-factor. Abrash said this was achieved by “folding the optical path into a very small volume.” Indeed, renderings of the optical modules between Half Dome and Half Dome 2 show a drastic reduction in size.

Half Dome 2 optical module (left) vs. Half Dome optical module (right) | Image courtesy Oculus

Half Dome 3 takes this one step further. Instead of physically moving the display in order to achieve varifocal capability, the Half Dome 3 prototype uses an electronically controlled lens array which allows it to cycle through 64 discrete focus planes.

Half Dome 3 optical module (left) vs. Half Dome optical module (right) | Image courtesy Oculus

This further shrinks the size of the optical module, making Half Dome 3 even more compact.

Abrash did say that Half Dome 2 and 3 had to trade-off some of the original Half Dome’s field of view improvements in order to achieve these compact form-factors, but said that even so they still offered a larger field of view than current Rift and Quest headsets.

Image courtesy Oculus

So far the company isn’t saying when these technologies will make their way into new Oculus headsets, but it doesn’t sound like it’ll be any time terribly soon.

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.


  • JesuSaveSouls

    Great news on the hand tracking coming soon and the nov release update to use the quest as duel standalone and pc headset.

    • asdfasdfasdf

      i agree!

      • JesuSaveSouls

        So many things going to hit the quest.Next week we get like 50 go games ported to the quest too.

  • Darshan

    These are bright examples of what is going to be released in coming years, one may argue so what they are not releasing it now? but its public showdown of FB money being properly and systematically used for advancement of technology, which is sooner or later going to release. May people wish to curse FB at their will, Such tremendous progress on VR front was impossible without funding interest or dedication from Mark. Indeed he is deeply interested and every connect is proof of it. This will ensure future of VR.

    • Adrian Meredith

      For me as a long time skeptic of FB, I really do believe they want to succeed. O haven’t seen a company this hungry for research and development since the first iphone

      • Rosko

        Looks to me like they are slowing with the pcvr research. Maybe the lack of pc graphics advancement has held them back. The next pcvr headset sounds like it will be 4-5 away that’s really disappointing news.

        • Totius

          That might be the case, but what about foveated rendering? That should pretty much kill or at least give some huge help for what concerns “lack of pc graphics advancement”, and apparently they already have this technology.

          • Xron

            Probably because most of users still have ‘potato’ pc’s and even with foveated rendering you wouldn’t bring the perf needed to their level… for masses I mean…
            Most people don’t even own pc nowadays -.- they are using tablet or phone ~.~ and cause of that we aren’t getting our eye candy games.

    • Rogue Transfer

      It “doesn’t work for everyone or 100% of the time” – due to their eye tracking being unreliable(as pointed out previously by Abrash at last OC5). This year, he doesn’t know when that might even be possible for FB and is no longer predicting.

    • CURTROCK

      I agree. There is a loud, vocal minority that likes to $#$* on everything that FB/Oculus does, and damned if they do/damned if they don’t. FB hit it out of the park it at OC6 yesterday, on many levels.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      They’re not releasing it now as the hardware itself is still not up to production standards. what they are showing here is not something we’ll see for at least 3-4 years in actual production (and I think I’m even pretty optimistic with 3-4 years).

  • the size of the third headset completely blew my mind! Still amazed by how small it is!

    • Adrian Meredith

      its kinda wierd too that half dome 2 appears to be held together with sticky tape yet half dome 3 looks like a finished product??

    • dk

      hmm I suspect the 3rd one is very close to the rifts/quest fov ….the size cut usually comes at the price of the fov there have been other small headsets ….but the optics and form factor won’t be an issue one day when we use something like the old nvidia light field display prototype but that requires something like 8k per eye for a start

      • Rogue Transfer

        Indeed, Abrash said that the 3rd Half Dome has a trade off in FOV because of the size reduction, to effectively ~108°(Quest’s horizontal 90° + 20%).

  • Jarilo

    Just a tease, release date between the same time as Index 2 and Half Life 3. lol

  • chiliwili69

    Leave the varifocal thing for the next 3-4 years and give us now a 140 FOV with 4K+4K resolution with the HalfDome3 form factor and proper audio. We users don´t need more so far. Am I alone in whising just that?

    • Handpuppe

      I Agree. Bring me a wireless headset with 2x 4k panels with no screendoor and fovrendering and take my money!!!

      • Abion47

        The wireless technology required to beam 2x4K video signals at 90+ Hz without any problems or hiccups doesn’t yet exist, and if it did it would be prohibitively expensive. (We’re talking thousands of dollars.)

        It’s a choose two situation between reliable, high resolution/refresh rate, and cheap.

    • Totius

      I absolutely agree!!

    • fuyou2

      Take a look at the PIMAX 8K-X.. has very impressive specs.

      • Jeremy Kins

        Yeah but that’s also going to come with a host of technical issues, tinkering with every game launch, distortion issues, etc., if the 5K is any indication. You need a good ecosystem, ease of use, controllers, etc., to really make a compelling package past the specs alone.

      • Abion47

        It’s also virtually unusable without reducing graphics settings to the ground or rendering games at 1/2 or 1/4 resolution. In either case, what’s even the point of even having 2x4K screens?

        • Justin

          Not so, you should be able on a decent system be able to render 2x the native resolution per eye with decent results in game. Especially if you utilise Foreated Rendering. I can render playable 6k x 4k per eye with FFR on my Pimax 8K in Large FOV mode. Yes not on a games Ultra Settings but the image crispness is more important for me.

          Won’t touch anything that comes from FaceBool / Oculus.

          • Abion47

            Foveated rendering is selectively reduced resolution rendering and you have to reduce the graphics settings, so I’m pretty sure you just proved my point.

            What I’m saying is what’s the point in having 4K+ screens per eye when you can have screens half that size and barely notice the difference? On screens past ~2K, you run into drastically diminishing returns in the trade off between performance and image crispness. Past a certain point, the image is plenty crisp enough, and FOV, refresh rate, and graphics quality become far more important than resolution.

            Add this to the fact that new advancements are being made in VR lens and screen technology to make the resolution appear bigger than it is, and I don’t see why anyone is demanding 4K screens per eye anymore.

    • care package

      Without foveated rendering you’d need a top of the line gaming PC, something that gets often overlooked by the ones whining for such high specs. That would keep VR from ever reaching mass adoption, which means lacking software as well.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        But foveated rendering requires eyetracking, and eyetracking hardware is still pretty expensive (cheapest has just been introduced at $149)..

        • Foveated rendering is already being use in quest and go games so u don’t need eye tracking but eye tracking would work best

          • mfx

            Yeah that’s the basic FIXED foveated rendering you are talking about, he is talking about the TRUE foveated rendering that moves with your eye sight, and NO, it’s not already here.

          • foveated rendering is just a rendering tech so even fix is still TRUE foveated rendering because it just being use to increase performance what isn’t around currently is tracked foveated rendering which is done by combining the currently foveated rendering tech with eye tracking.

        • Vipast

          $149 , is still cheaper in comparison to the price of the hardware required to render at that resolution specs. You are better off with having better internal components, that developers will have a SET feature set, to utilize, rather than introducing the variables of system specs from a computer to power it. Then you have more to worry about, and having the eye tracking for a built in hardware set, similar to the quest would be a better asset, especially with a set configuration on the hardware rending portion. Which to me, seems the route Oculus / facebook is heading , to target the masses.They just need to add a 5g chip internally with a sim card, and it could really be used mobile on the go.

    • Abion47

      The best video cards currently in existence (RTX Titan and RTX 2080 Ti) already struggle to render at 4K above 60 FPS. You’re demanding a headset that needs to push twice as many pixels (4K+4K) and it needs to do it at 90 FPS minimum to fit with current PC VR standards.

      Yeah, that isn’t going to happen. In order to even have a chance at running such a headset, you’d need to run those graphics cards in SLI and with that alone you’re talking about a PC that costs well north of $3000. Might as well throw adoption rates out the window…

      • MountainK1ng

        Oh, come on, 90FPS is only 50% faster than 60FPS, so you just need 150% of 2080Ti performance to get 4k/90, then double that to get it to two screens, so you would only need 3 2080Ti’s in SLI for 4k/4k/90. Don’t most people have that?

        • Abion47

          Couple this with the fact that 3-Way and 4-Way NVLink connectors don’t even exist, and I’m not sure it’s even possible to get 90 FPS on a 2x4K headset with two graphics cards on today’s technology. Even if Quadros could maybe manage it, that would mean spending over $10000 on the graphics hardware alone.

          To put this even further into perspective, there’s an LTT video where they built a single PC to run three VR setups simultaneously. It ran three GPUs (though not in SLI – it used virtualization technology) and powered three Vives. Each Vive had a resolution of 2160 x 1200, so with all three of them hooked up and running, that is a total of 7,776,000 pixels being pushed at 90 FPS. Compare that to a single headset with the equivalent of a standard 4K display for each eye which amounts to a total pixel count of 16,588,800 pixels. That’s right, in order to accomplish this feat, you would need a rig that is more than twice as powerful as one that could run 3 Vives simultaneously and you would need to do it with the added handicap of being limited to only two GPUs.

          And that’s assuming that 2 NVLink-ed cards perform 100% better than a single card (they don’t) and that all VR games will utilize the second card seamlessly (they probably won’t).

      • chiliwili69

        I have a 1080Ti and a 4K monitor, it run at 60fps with no problems.
        Of course, you need also a proper CPU, a 4790K at 4.8GHz in my case.

        But it depends on the graphics settings of every game.

        In any case, when asking for 4K+4K for VR, I was implicitly demanding a technique to reduce GPU load (FFR, DFR, ASW, or whatever those clever mind invent). We also don´t need 90fps, 80Hz display is quite OK.

        What I wanted to bring up is that Facebook should not lose the focus on trying the varifocal thing (doesn´t bring too much value to games) and forgetting FOV and resolution which are the two more demanded things already in VR.

        Also, having a 4K+4K, people with lower GPUs can always do subsampling to reduce GPU load (if FFR, DFR or ASW is not applied), so you can do render at 2K+2K over a 4K+4K with no SDE.

        Please, thinking minds of FB, just survey the “normal” people

        • Abion47

          What’s the point of having a 4K display if you have to effectively slash that resolution to achieve playable frame rates? Playing a game at 2K or less resolution on a 4K display just means you are being criminally wasteful of your display’s capabilities.

          That’s why I have a 2K@120/144 monitor with no plans of upgrading to 4K any time soon – I value high frame rates and maxed graphics settings over the ability to push raw pixel counts. I see no value whatsoever in having bragging rights to a 4K display if I have to drop below 60 FPS or gut the game’s graphics settings in order to actually use it. I mean, the whole point of 4K gaming is to have a finer view of details… but if you have to remove the details in order to make it playable, what is the point? Do you enjoy using your 4K screen to view rough shadows, reduced/disabled post-processing effects, and low view distances? (Yes, it does depend on the game, but a quick perusal of 1080Ti 4K benchmarks shows that even in the best case scenario, it can barely manage 4K@60 at high settings. Most games perform much worse than that in the 30-40 FPS range.)

          Also, not to bash the 4790k by any means as its a respectable CPU (I had one for a while) but that chip is now over 5 years old and started showing its age 2 years ago. I would not put that CPU in any modern rig intended for the express purpose of 4K gaming. (i7-9700k or Ryzen 7 3700X would be the minimum.)

          • sotov

            Dig the analysis.

            Any thoughts on specifically low poly games being designed for 2 x 4K displays to address the contraints of current and near future hardware?

            Reducing standard polygon counts by say, 10x could yield a compelling VR experience at the higher resolution experience if:

            1. The game is designed for it
            2. The game is designed for it

            **And Hardware Manufacturers**: optimizing FOV is *critical* here. We get the push to make things smaller, but it works both ways. Lots of users would rather the same size with a better FOV, than a smaller and smaller experience. The gateway to the masses isn’t only something you can hold in your pocket, it’s also experiences that are so “Wow” they can’t be ignored.

          • Abion47

            Low poly games definitely make the 4K experience a lot more playable, but at the same time I have to wonder what the point is. Again, you are having to reduce the graphical quality (sometimes significantly) in order to run the headset properly, and even if its a style choice it’s still a necessity.

            I’m all for the low poly look being a conscious style choice for particular games, but if all games have to be like that just by the inherent limitations of the system then it’s the Wii all over again.

        • Andrew Jakobs

          But the 1080TI is still a pretty expensive card (still to high for the mainstream gamer), and as you say it only runs 4K at 60fps, now make that 80-90 and it’ll have a much harder time..

      • Bernard Cozier

        There are some tricks that can be employed like motion smoothing which requires only half the fps to be rendered and the in-between frames are interpolated so the GPU really needing only 45fps instead of 90fps.

        • Abion47

          Have you ever seen motion smoothing in action? It’s garbage, especially in VR. It basically makes it so every other frame is a blurry mess which, while potentially effective for things like live TV, devastates immersion and triggers the crap out of people with a high susceptibility to motion sickness. Also, if I’m going to be paying an arm and a leg for the pinnacle of VR gaming that is a 2x4K headset, you can be damn sure I want to run that thing as God and Gabe Newell intended – true 90+ FPS. Anything less is a compromise on what should be a no-compromises VR experience. I mean, what’s the point of flooring the gas pedal if you’re only in second gear?

    • Andrew Jakobs

      The varifocal thing IS for the next 4-5 years (or even beyond that), it’s not gonna turn up in the next ‘Rift’. It’s still a work in progress that hasn’t been completed in a long shot.. Personally I think headsets with regular displays (which these type of lenses are needed for) will be a thing of the past in a few years, we’ll get directly beamed into the eye images which won’t require any bulky lenses and works without glasses..

    • I disagree with this attitude – VR will only get better through mass adoption, and mass adoption requires compromise in order to reduce friction and increase comfort. Apparently varifocal displays and higher frame rates reduce motion sickness far more than a higher resolution and FOV, so that’s where the focus should be for now.

      VR enthusiasts will always prioritise specs which can benefit from their high end PCs and ignore those which benefit people new to the technology, but catering to the majority will result in faster adoption, faster progress, and better software, which will get us to the “dream” 4k+4k 120+Hz 180FOV headset much sooner.

    • Adil

      For immersion I prefer varifocal and natural 3D more than 140 FOV

  • Justadude

    Hey Facebook, For now can you just give us a headset as small as the half dome 3 headest without verificoal for now, but give us atleast 120° fov and 4k resolution with it.

    • Rogue Transfer

      Abrash pointed out the HD3 prototype came at a tradeoff in FOV to (effectively) ~108° = 20% more than the horizontal 90° on Quest. That’s nearly the same as the Vive’s 110° with 8mm face pad.

      • MountainK1ng

        That would be alright if it was wireless, and comfortable.

  • Moose

    id take the 200 extra grams for 140 degrees

    • Handpuppe

      SAME HERE!

    • Totius

      Me too

    • Viktoras Saulis

      i take 2kg for 180 degrees

  • paratay

    Where are the ARTICLES ABOUT THE NEW PIMAX ANNOUNCEMENTS ROADTOVR, you’re all paid trolls for Oculus and Beatsaber.

    Here are the new pimax headsets, the TRUE VR headsets not the shitty Oculus TOY with lame FOV and GOD RAY HEAVEN

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yup1PTH_1v0
    200 degree FOV with 4K panels on each eye

    • fuyou2

      Oculus you guys are a JOKE!! Oculus Rift-S(HIT)

  • fuyou2

    Another Stupid development path from Oculus. SCUBA MASK.
    TAKE A LOOK AT PIMAX 8K-X … 200 Degree FOV!!!!

    • Ratm

      You are forced to buy low quality products that don’t deliver what they say, in crazy for the quality prices.
      For examble htc has eye tracking at 150, pimax is at 300 for some reason.
      4-8 k … Are just the screen names not something you buy if they are not utilised by the lenses. Add the distortion and you are left with something average and expensive.

      • fuyou2

        Yeah keep talking out of your Ass.. I dare you to try the Pimax and see how the oculus feels afterwards!! What a joke.

        • asdfasdfasdf

          nope youre clearly the one shitting out of your mouth here. the pimax kinda sucks. its only good for max pixels and thats clearly not everything in vr anymore

    • superdonkey

      as a backer for pimax there were significant quality issues. some people on their fifth headset due to cracks in casing. yeah nice fov but very very poor quality.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Oh please, the PIMAX headset is still a scuba mask…

  • grindathotte .

    I don’t want varifocal! I love the fact that in VR I can focus on things up close without having to put reading glasses on. Varifocal will better simulate true vision, but how am I going to get my glasses on and off?

    • dk

      it can be off by the looks of it …..also u can slap prescription lenses on the headset but that will cost u a bit

      • grindathotte .

        One of the things about getting older is that your focal range diminishes. If I put lenses in to focus on near objects, the distance would be out of focus. The varifocal system and accompanying eye-tracking (could not work without this) would also add a lot of unnecessary cost for me. As others have said, just give us the wider FOV. Of course, more seriously, some people cannot use VR because of the disparity between eye convergence and accommodation, which is what Oculus are addressing

        • Bakkster

          If it’s just near/far sightedness, wouldn’t it be possible to accommodate for the spherical value of a prescription with varifocal lenses?

          • MountainK1ng

            Better yet, what if you could enter your prescription during setup and the vari-focus just adjusts for your eyes. No need for glasses during VR at all. I could see there being a quick setup, similar to a vision test at different focal lengths, so you don’t have to even know your prescription. Do it once, or every year or two when your prescription changes and everything clear in VR.

          • grindathotte .

            I think my original point has been missed. For someone who is long-sighted and can focus at infinity, everything is in focus on normal VR headsets. The introduction of varifocal would, for me, blur things at close range, just as in real life. If, in real life, I put reading glasses on, I get the same effect as in VR, where I am looking at something up close, but focused at infinity. The lack of varifocal means that for me, and others who are long-sighted, there is no need for glasses.

          • MountainK1ng

            Just wait to try it before worrying it won’t work. Lots of people wear reading glasses, it seems like that would be something they could compensate for with varifocal lenses.

          • grindathotte .

            You’re still missing it. VR without varifocal works better than reality for the likes of me. It’s a step up (not saying I will live in VR). With age, the lens of your eye becomes harder and less “varifocal”. Normally, the accommodation reflex, means that your eyes will focus according to distance (eye convergence). Some people who cannot “turn off” this reflex cannot use VR (or will experience discomfort) because the focus is fixed and their eyse are expecting it to change. In such cases, Oculus has come to the rescue with varifocal. People who put reading glasses on and off are already used to bypassing the accommodation reflex. If my VR headset is focussed at infinity, I can see clearly, and I can still see near objects because they are also focussed at infinity. If varifocal lenses worked properly, they would mimic real life (great for most people as it could increase immersion) but would blur near objects for me because I would be unable to focus. My point was not that it would not work, but that I personally would not want it to.

          • Albert.CR

            Absolutely this…

        • dk

          weeeell varifocal is just how the majority of our eyes work for the majority of our life ….having it is as important as fov and high ppd

          and like I said depending on the solution it can be just an array of small lenses on top of a 4k or higher res panel there r different solutions for it ….but sure in the mean time there will be other improvements before it comes to the market

  • Francesco Fazio

    Impressive really impressive. I wonder how long it will take before this will be ready for release to the masses

  • Rogue Transfer

    Effectively, Abrash said it(and pointed out on Reddit) had Quest(90° horizontal FOV) + 20% = 108° – this is no longer a wide FOV like the previous Half Dome prototypes. It’s nearly up to the Vive with 8mm face pad, that is 110°.

  • brandon9271

    Those look like non fresnel lenses… PLEASE let those be non fresnel lenses!! https://media0.giphy.com/media/3ohhwjIjLLWBh4EQRW/giphy.gif

  • Andrew Jakobs

    Damn, I think that halfdome 3 design is a sexy headset, apart from the sexy hardware inside.

  • dota

    Any nerd :
    can u change the pattern of fresnel lens to achieve this w/o doing mechanical movement (or use a gel for varifocal lens similar to the one in real eyeball) .
    Just to say ;-)

  • Twa Corbies

    “[…] but said that even so they still offered a larger field of view than current Rift and Quest headsets.”

    Just “larger” doesn’t sound very reassuring.

  • GunnyNinja

    No cameras. So hang on to those sensors…