If you were excited about all the prototype "Half Dome" VR hardware shown off at the F8 2018 conference making its way into the next PC-based Oculus Rift, you're going to be more than a bit let down. The Rift Consumer Version 2 (CV2), which was believed to be in the works under the name Caspar, has apparently been set aside following a personnel change at Oculus. So what can we expect now from the next Oculus Rift? Here's what you need to know.

What's new with Oculus Rift 2?

The Oculus Rift CV2, codenamed Caspar, has been shelved following Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe's exit from Oculus. Nate Mitchell, co-founder and head of Rift at Oculus, tweeted after the announcement to assure us that Oculus is still "driving forward" with the PC-based Rift in terms of hardware and software — though likely not as originally intended — and that there will be more news soon.

What's the deal with the major shakeup at Oculus?

In a Facebook post on October 22, 2018, Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe announced that he was leaving Oculus to focus on the next big thing, which apparently isn't coming from the Facebook-owned company. TechCrunch reported that Iribe and the Facebook overseers shared "fundamentally different views on the future of Oculus that grew deeper over time," and that Iribe wasn't happy with not pushing the boundaries of VR.

Instead of creating a completely new headset — perhaps with some of the prototypical Half Dome hardware shown off at the F8 conference — Oculus apparently has plans for an upgraded CV1 with inside-out tracking, much like the standalone Oculus Quest that was revealed at Oculus Connect 5.

All the big announcements from Oculus Connect 5

We'll still have to wait for an official word from Oculus as to what exactly its plans are for the next PC-based Rift headset, but with the circumstances of Iribe's leaving it doesn't seem like we're going to be getting something that completely changes the game like the original Rift did when it was first released.

What is the Oculus Half Dome prototype?

The Half Dome Oculus prototype is indeed an impressive piece of hardware, with a couple of major changes compared to the original Rift CV1. First, and perhaps most impressive, Half Dome features varifocal displays. The Rift CV1 (and most current VR headsets) uses a fixed focal plane, which means the screens inside the headset do not move. Developers usually place objects in the world at about a two-meter distance, and anything you bring closer ― like when you pick up a letter or turn on a virtual PC screen ― can be quite blurry. With a varifocal display, though, the focus can change based on what you're looking at thanks to mechanical movements inside the headset. Yes, the screens physically move in and out, but apparently, you shouldn't notice anything while you're in VR thanks to some nifty engineering.

On top of the varifocal displays that appear to offer up a much clearer picture, the FOV has been upped from 100 degrees in the CV1 to 140 degrees. This is a huge advancement, but there's still a lot of room to grow since humans can see up to about 210 degrees. What is equally impressive is how Half Dome is the same size and weight as the Rift CV1 despite all the new tech added to the prototype.

Whether or not any of these advancements would have made it into the Rift CV2 remains unclear. In a Reddit post shortly after the F8 conference, Nate Mitchell explained that a lot of the tech shown off was nothing more than a sneak peek into long-term research.

When does the Oculus Rift 2 launch?

Rift CV1 is still an impressive device

Now that the Rift CV2 as Brendan Iribe knew it has been shelved, it's unclear when the next headset will launch. If indeed there is an update to the CV1 that involves mostly minor changes — like inside-out tracking akin to the Oculus Quest — we might see the new hardware as soon as next year.

If you'd like to get your hands on quality PC-based VR now, the Oculus Rift CV1 and Touch controller bundle can be had for about $399.

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Updated November 14, 2018: We've added information regarding the Oculus personnel shakeup and what to expect from the Rift CV2 now that the Caspar project has apparently been shelved.

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