Meta might have been a big – perhaps even the biggest – player in the VR world for some time, but newcomer Apple is already giving it ideas for features to add to its Quest headsets, and the first of these could be the ability to use your Quest VR wearable while moving in a car or on a plane.
The reveal trailer for the Apple headset – which is finally set to launch on February 2, with Vision Pro preorders already having gone live (many Apple headsets are already being sold on eBay for extremely high prices) – showed off several use cases for the gadget. One of the examples was a person slipping the headset on while sitting in a plane seat, presumably so they could enjoy an immersive experience while traveling.
Using a VR headset while traveling – especially on a packed plane – sounds like a no-brainer. Rather than having to contend with movies displayed on a small screen on the back of the seat in front of you, you can enjoy them on a massive virtual movie theatre screen and forget that you’re crammed into coach like a sardine.
However, while the idea sounds simple, it’s rather tricky to pull off – as one disappointed Meta Quest 3 user discovered when they struggled to use mixed reality on a flight. On Twitter/X, user @afoxdesign posted a rather amusing clip of their Quest 3 menu floating off into the distance while trying to use the headset on a flight.
In a reply to the post, Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth (@boztank) explained that the issue is caused by the plane’s movement throwing off the headset’s IMUs (inertial motion sensors). The sensors are picking up on the plane’s movement and acceleration, so your headset thinks you’re moving about and adjusts the position of virtual objects accordingly.
Encouragingly, Bosworth added that Meta is “Working on it” with regards to making it possible to use Quest headsets while traveling in a vehicle.
No, we use an IMU to keep objects localized relative to your headset motion so moving vehicles represent a challenge (when they accelerate in any direction). We also use the cameras, of course, they work together as the IMU is higher frequency but lower accuracy. Working on it!January 24, 2024
Back in May 2023 Meta showed off a demo where a Meta Quest Pro was being used in a BMW, with the car’s own sensors keeping the headset's IMUs in check. Unfortunately, this solution wouldn’t work for low-tech vehicles or commercial planes, where it might not be the safest idea to give random people direct access to the airplane’s sensors.
Option two, then, may be to introduce a simplified travel mode in which these motion sensors are turned off. Instead, the headset would use scaled-back tracking data and reference points to enable stable versions of static experiences like watching a video or playing a game through the VR Xbox Game Pass app – becoming a headset version of the Xreal Air 2 and similar wearable AR display glasses.
We’ll have to wait and see what Meta comes up with, but with Apple offering a solution to the using-a-headset-while-traveling problem, and Bosworth saying that a solution is being worked on, we’re hopeful that Quest headsets will be usable on a plane or in a car in the not too distant future.
You might also like
Get daily insight, inspiration and deals in your inbox
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the TechRadar team.
Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.