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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Facebook application is seen on a phone screen© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Facebook application is seen on a phone screen

By David Ingram

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Reuters) – Facebook Inc (O:) 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 (TW:).

It will also be different from the Google Daydream headset, made by Alphabet Inc (O:), 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.

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