Project Santa Cruz, Oculus’ in-development standalone VR headset first teased back at Oculus Connect 2016, doesn’t even really have a proper name yet, but at this year’s Game Developer’s Conference (GDC) the company will be dedicating an hour-long talk to the fundamentals of developing for the new platform. Giving developers more insight into  the headset’s limitations could mean launch might be right around the corner.

When we first got our hands on the first publicly shown iteration of Santa Cruz back at Connect 2016, it was essentially a prototype microcomputer integrated into an Oculus Rift headset. It has since been developed into a bespoke headset, replete with several integrated optical sensors to not only give the headset itself 6 degrees of freedom (6DoF), but critically allowing for 6DoF controllers as well, meaning you get an experience much closer to a ‘tethered’ PC VR experience than mobile VR’s forerunners like Gear VR or the upcoming Oculus Go headset. In our latest hands-on with Santa Cruz, we got a brief sense of the sort of room-scale experiences the headset could run, but with Oculus sharing more insight into the headset’s limitations, it’s likely Santa Cruz is nearing finalization and heading toward launch sometime soon.

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Entitled ‘Developing for Santa Cruz’, the talk will feature Gabor Szauer, Oculus Developer Relations Engineer; Rade Stojsavljevic, Oculus Head of Content Strategy; and Ryan Rutherford, Oculus Software Engineer. Here’s the description below:

Standalone represents an exciting new category for game development and an approachable first VR platform for developers new to immersive design. Members of the Oculus Engineering and Content teams will discuss the key differences between Santa Cruz and other headsets—and offer practical insights on design and development considerations for the future of VR.

The talk will be an ‘in booth’ session, taking place March 21st at 12:30 – 1:30 pm PT. If you’re attending GDC this year and interested in official Oculus talks, head over to the Oculus featured talks list.


We’ll have feet on the ground at GDC, so check back for more coverage when talks start on Monday, March 19th.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • dk

    a step closer to 2019? ….it’s not coming to the market in 2018 right

    • Francesco Fazio

      Possibly end of 2018

      • dk

        they have to first ship it to devs …and than they can release it 6 or more like 9 moths later …..if everything with the production is figured out

        • Francesco Fazio

          It has been already sent to the devs. For what I read it has been sent already last month. Yes it will take some time but with the crappy HTC vive pro out in few weeks Oculus will have to speed up. I guess end of this year or even before it will be available for consumers. I would rather cut my arm than buying HTC so I wait until the Santa Cruz is out and I will buy the best HMD on the market by far !

          • dk

            hmmm I’m not seeing any news about oculus shipping the dev kits …..just a reddit post that links to an article about the upcoming F8 event

          • Laurence Nairne

            Not that I’m arguing in favour of HTC Vive Pro, but Santa Cruz is not built to directly compete with tethered VR, and it never was. The processing power a PC can generate vs. a small mobile processor is just leagues apart currently.

            Be that as it may, wait for what you want, but I’m sitting on the fence with this one until I know what its actual capabilities are.

  • airball

    What’s going on with the Oculus Go? There’s plenty of signs it’s ready to ship, but there’s no release date yet, and 3 DOF offerings are looking weaker by the day.

    • Smokey_the_Bear

      Hopefully they scrapped it, and instead put all those people on the Santa Cruz project. 3DOF is dead.

      • i’m pretty sure the Santa Cruz will not have a $199 price so comparing the two is silly. Different target groups.

        • dk

          when the sd835 is as cheap as the sd821 …..even the cheapest headsets will have 6dof and than 3dof will be mostly dead

          • the SD835 is not as cheap as the SD821, but even importantly, 6DOF also requires appropriate sensors that add to the cost. If you replaced the SD821 with a newer SoC it wouldn’t magically become 6DOF.

          • dk

            yes it requires at least 2 cheap cameras and ….when the sd835 is old/cheap or there is a cheap equivalent ….than 3dof will die

            if u make a cheap headset with a 835 equivalent …not investing in 2 cameras will be pretty stupid …when that can give u a real vr experience

    • Fluke

      Considering there are now product pages up for it on the likes of Best Buy, a launch announcement at GDC next week is looking likely.

    • airball
  • Lucidfeuer

    “much closer to a ‘tethered’ PC VR experience than mobile VR’s forerunners like Gear VR or the upcoming Oculus Go headset” marketing bullshit, sorry. The fact that Gear/Daydream/Go have been lazy iterations and developments therefor not integrating what is a very basic component of VR (6DOF) doesn’t make a mobile processor equipped with it any more than a…mobile headset and nothing like a PC VR experience.

    Unless they managed to cram a PC laptop-like compatible system into the headset which I highly doubt given they haven’t iterated shit so why would they go to that stretch suddenly.

    Anyway I derive an optimistic conclusion from this which is the whole future VR market is still to be taken by any competitor and maybe start-up that does the work.

    • gothicvillas

      Maybe there will be a little “box” attached to your belt…

      • Lucidfeuer

        Maybe but that would be a step back in ergonomics, with that headstrap design, putting it on/off and grabbing controllers the right way is already daunting, if I have any additionnal box to somehow stick to my belt…not going to be practical. Seriously I can fucking stream to my GearVR with VRidge and add head-tracking with 100€ Nolo…wtf are these corporations doing?

  • Rlee

    I want the Rift 2.0, not this BS.

    • Mei Ling

      This is the Rift 2.0.

    • dk

      if this had hdmi or dp input and usb out …..it would be really close to perfect rift 2.0

  • Pharaoh

    I hope to see this launch soon. 3 DOF is DOA.

    • Laurence Nairne

      But…3DoF arrived years ago and lived a fairly healthy, albeit stunted life.

      Maybe DOR (DeadOnRe-entry)?

  • Liam Mulligan

    It is very clear that 6dof standalone will be restricted to heavily optimized experiences as gpu/cpu restrictions are evident. Seen some amazing things run on webgl at 90fps so still optimistic this will push other vendors to innovate.

  • Titans falundrme

    Was going to get the Oculus go but depending if they have a general release date for this by the time go is released im going to have to wait. I know this is below oculus rift but its still better than the go which is the perfect inbetween for people like me who done have the money for a decent gaming PC.