Quest: Oculus Demonstrates its $399 Standalone VR Headset

Oculus’ prototype wireless VR headset, codenamed Santa Cruz, is now a product. The new Quest headset is slated to debut this coming spring for $399. At its annual developer conference, the Facebook-owned company showed off the Quest headset, which joins the $199 Oculus Go and $400 Oculus Rift (that requires a dedicated PC). The standalone Quest offers 6DOF (six degrees of freedom). In his keynote address at the event, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg reiterated his goal to have one billion people using VR.

Wired reports Quest features the same Touch controllers as the Rift, but adds “four wide-angle sensors” that give it 6DOF that allow the user’s head to be tracked positionally. That means the user can move around, not just look around, making the Quest’s technology a significant advancement for a standalone VR headset.

Six degrees of freedom usually require sensors in the room as well as on the headset, but Quest, said Facebook VR executive Hugo Barra, uses “advanced computer vision algorithms to track your position in real time, without any external sensors.” The technology, dubbed Insight, looks for “edges, corners, and distinct features in the room,” and then builds a 3D map of the environment.

In a 4,000 square-foot arena at Oculus Connect, people were able to use Quest headsets “to play a free-roaming version of the Wild West shooter ‘Dead and Buried’.”

The Quest’s optics “appear to be the same as the Oculus Go,” with a display resolution of 1600 x 1400 per eye, but also has a “lens spacing adjustment to help maximize visual comfort.” Quest has 64GB of storage, versus Go’s 32 gigs, and built-in audio that “is also supposed to be improved from the Go’s sound.” With regard to content, Quest has 50 titles, including Rift games “Robo Recall” and “The Climb.”

The Wall Street Journal states that “no company better positioned to make virtual reality into a true mass-market technology” than Facebook, and that the Quest “should at least help Facebook expand its share of the nascent VR gaming market, where it has trailed Sony ’s PlayStation VR by a wide margin.”

According to IDC, the Rift sold about 400,000 units last year versus Sony’s 1.6 million VR headsets. SuperData reported that the Oculus Go has sold “nearly 290,000 units since its launch in May.” It added that, “Facebook’s ultimate success in VR may hinge on the question of whether consumers will really want to strap themselves into a virtual world run by a tarnished advertising giant.”

According to Variety, Oculus Go product manager Sean Liu reported that, via a partnership with Google’s YouTube, Oculus Go “is getting access to more than 800,000 360-degree videos.” The VR headset will also get “cast support, which will allow Go users to stream their gameplay experience to other screens,” first to mobile devices and later to TV screens.

Oculus Go is also “getting live streams of NBA games through the Oculus Venues app, thanks to a cooperation with NextVR.” Those who watch an NBA game in VR “will get a custom virtual jersey of their favorite team that their avatar will be able to wear for the rest of the season.”

John Carmack: Oculus Quest Will End Up Competing With Nintendo Switch, VentureBeat, 9/27/18
Oculus CTO Carmack Plans microSD and Low-Power Support for Go, More for Go 2, VentureBeat, 9/27/18
The Facebook Effect Hits Oculus: In VR, Other People Are Everything, Wired, 9/27/18

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