Facebook to launch new virtual reality headset, 'Oculus Go'

Facebook Inc plans to release a new virtual reality headset that does not require a separate computer to operate, allowing for more mobile uses than the company's existing Oculus Rift product, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said on Wednesday.

Zuckerberg, speaking at a conference for virtual reality developers, said the "Oculus Go" device would cost $199 and ship early next year.

Facebook has invested heavily in virtual reality hardware, expecting that the technology could one day move from a niche interest to a widely used platform for gaming, communication and business applications.

In 2014, Facebook paid $3 billion to acquire Oculus and retain its employees.

The new standalone headset will be more accessible because it will not be tethered to a computer, Zuckerberg said, differentiating the product from the Oculus Rift system and the rival Vive system made by HTC Corp.

It will also be different from the Google Daydream headset, made by Alphabet Inc, because it will not require a smartphone to operate.

Facebook will permanently cut the price of the Oculus Rift system to $399 from $499, the company said.

(Reporting by David Ingram, editing by G Crosse and David Gregorio)