Facebook’s Oculus Quest Is Bringing VR To The Mainstream

The Oculus Quest was announced late last year by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and presented a new opportunity for those who had missed the VR train. An all-in-one VR solution that was set to launch with 50 games and functionalities expected from the full-fat VR headset offered by Oculus known as the Rift. It was also announced that the Quest would be a standalone product and does not require a PC to run on.

This creates a new paradigm in the VR market, one positioned squarely between the enthusiast-grade Rift and the entry-level Oculus Go. A space wherein users can come to expect similar quality to that of the top-end, but with the same accessibility and ease of access to the lower end. All at a price of $399. Join us as we take a deeper look into how the VR market is set to change with the launch of the Quest.

What Is The Quest?

The Oculus Quest is the company’s first offering for a one-stop device for VR gaming. The device will have a highly-regulated game library, with over 50 titles already being announced as ported to the Quest.

The lineup of games for the platform will be ported from the Oculus Rift, along with certain exclusive offerings such as the Vader Immortal: Star Wars VR series. This points to Oculus building a console-like environment surrounding the Quest, with tight quality standards and high production value exclusives.

The headset itself features two displays to create the VR effect, each running at 1600×1440 to provide the user with realism and immersion. This is the same display that is implemented in the Oculus Go, which has long since been touted as more comfortable than the Rift. The Quest also shares the audio delivery method and casting features as the Go, demonstrating the starting point for this project.

What’s Inside The ‘Mainstream VR’ Box?

The device runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, which is currently around 2 years old. Even as Oculus decided to go with a mobile processor, the bulk of the processing power will be focused on pushing pixels, unlike on phones where multiple apps take up processing power. This has allowed Oculus to port games such as ‘The Climb’ and ‘Robo Recall’.

Most interestingly, the Quest has the 6 degrees of freedom tracking similar to the system used by the Rift. However, the main innovation comes in the form of Oculus’ new inside-out tracking system known as Oculus Insight. This was developed so that the user would not have to set up multiple sensors to use the device.

The Oculus Insight device instead uses 4 wide angle tracking sensors embedded in the headset. In conjunction with this, tracking elements on the controllers are utilized to know where the user’s hands are at any point in time. This combination of technologies gives the quest a reported mappable space of 5000 square feet, allowing for “Arena Scale” battles.

Time For The VR Market To Enter The Mainstream

The launch of the Oculus Quest shows that Facebook is ready to market VR to the mainstream. Ever since its genesis in 2012 and eventual popularization in the mid-2010s, VR has always had a high barrier of entry. The Rift headsets were priced high when the technology was new, and the PC required to run VR games still requires a sizeable investment.

More than the initial requirement for entry, there are also other things on the Rift that make it feel like it has a ways to go before being truly approachable for the masses. Many settings in games require tweaking to ensure that the user does not undergo nausea or other unpleasant feelings. Moreover, the immersion of the setup is broken, as the user is tied to the computer by a long, thick cable.

Setting up the Rift itself requires USB-powered sensors to be spread across the room, in a system known as Constellation tracking. Once set up, the headset couldn’t be moved easily, thus making it a steady fixture in living rooms and gaming rooms.

All these factors together contribute to the problems that many have with the Rift, and finally to why the sales were restricted to a subset of audiences. Those who could afford it and were willing to put up with the problems did so, just so they could enjoy VR the way they wanted to. Efforts such as the PlayStation VR headset have been integral in laying the foundation for moving away from being tethered. However, the Oculus Quest is the first concrete step towards mass adoption of VR in today’s environment.

Facebook has also shown focus towards India while marketing their previous products, implying that the Oculus Quest might see a release in India around the same timeframe. The Oculus Go has seen moderate success in the market, and it has shown itself to be ripe for VR products as seen by the success of the Samsung Gear VR.

The ease of use, portability and all-in-one feature of the Quest brings a console-like attitude to the fragmented VR market. The duration of games and the availability of a large number of titles at launch, along with exclusive titles, will create an environment for VR to be accepted widely in living rooms worldwide.

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