Oculus Quest may seem like a modest step towards the casual viewer: it’s VR, minus the cables. But the product is more complicated than its simple silhouette suggests. A portable, self-contained headset, which does not require a PC or sensors to deliver room-scale head and hand tracking in virtual reality, required a breakthrough from the Oculus team in a short time.
Since the original launch of Oculus in 2016, the VR company has made a number of incremental technological increases that have brought them this far. Jason Rubin, vice president of VR/AR partnerships and content for Facebook, is confident that those changes will impress early reviewers and the headset audience. That what seems simple will feel meaningful.
The hardware will be released on May 21 and pre-orders opened today. You can already read our full review of the product itself, and I have been able to use the hardware in my own home, without restrictions, for the past week.
The next generation of wearable VR.
I agree with Rubin’s assessment after spending a lot of time with the hardware. The Quest is an incredible piece of engineering, and it’s hard to believe that it’s capable of delivering relatively high visual quality and imperceptible tracking latency using only the somewhat old, standalone Snapdragon 835 chip. For reference, that’s the same system on a chip found in a Google Pixel 2 smartphone.
“We have implemented many optimizations from the software stack to the hardware to give Quest the best possible performance,” said Sean Liu, director of hardware product management. “For example, an active cooling system allows Quest to run at much higher clock speeds for extended periods, allowing us to get more power from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC.”
The hardware team even had to get creative with the way the drivers connected to the headphones, as it was very important to minimize latency.
“To achieve this, we invented a completely new custom wireless protocol that allowed us to reduce the latency of the controllers to a lower level than could be achieved by using Bluetooth or WiFi; in fact, to as low as 2 milliseconds,” Liu explained.
But most gamers won’t mind the engineering that went into the Quest, the important thing is that it’s fun and easy to use. And that’s where the Search really shines: it’s completely autonomous, so it doesn’t need to be connected to a PC. It does not require external sensors, despite the fact that its controllers offer six degrees of freedom, allowing you to manipulate objects in 3D space as you would with a traditional Rift or an HTC Vive.
You can stand in one place or sit down to play a lot of games if you are short on space, but room-scale VR is also available, as long as you have a minimum of 6.5 feet by 6.5 feet of unobstructed floor space. Or you can switch between those options anytime you want. According to Rubin, that ease of use and an almost instant setup was the whole point.
“We’re competing with everyone’s entertainment time right now,” he said. “You can get on Netflix, you can go play PlayStation, you can go read a book, you can do any of a thousand things.” VR shouldn’t take half an hour or 15 minutes to set up… That’s why we think the most important thing to address is [deshacerse de] those external sensors and the restlessness of configuring it every time.”
“Anyone who has [comentarios] until the day of the launch he is worried.”
Much of the simplicity of the system comes from the Guardian system, which is a safety mechanism that shows you a virtual barrier of wired structure when you approach leaving your usable VR space. The Quest will even take you out of virtual reality and show you the world around you through the system’s shortcut cameras if you completely move away from it. Creating a new Guardian configuration is as easy as looking down and plotting the area with the controller; the whole process takes about 10 seconds.
“Even if your Guardian has changed and you moved to a different room, it takes absolutely no time at all to paint the Guardian on the floor and leave,” Rubin noted. “It’s just not a big deal anymore.”
This change makes it much easier to get into virtual reality that Oculus will not offer any products that use external sensors, in fact. You may be able to find an original Rift on the secondary market, but from now on the Rift S and the Oculus Quest will be the standard Rift products offered for the full gaming experience, along with the more limited Oculus Go and Gear VR. .
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This is a big change, but autonomous room-scale wireless VR presents its own challenges. Rubin noted that it is difficult to know how gamers will react to being completely disconnected from the PC. Some people get too excited about their movements, while others take more time to get comfortable moving with the headset on.
“Sometimes you put people on the wireless VR and they’re flying all over the room,” he said. “And thank God, we have the Guardian system because all of a sudden they’re untethered and it’s very liberating.” Other people use the weight of the cable to tell them where the north is, if you like, where your PC is. And without that, they feel a little naked, especially if they are used to messing with the cable, so they are a little more conservative with what they are doing. There were a lot of surprises.”
I asked Rubin why the review embargo was lifted long before Quest’s May 21st release date, and his answer was blunt.
“We get more sales,” Rubin said. “We believe in these products. We think the reviews are going to be good. If you think the reviews are going to be good, you want them to come out as soon as possible… At the end of the day, anyone who has [revisiones] until the day of the launch he is worried.”