Oculus isn't taking its foot off the gas when it comes to virtual reality (VR) innovations. The Facebook-owned company recently launched the standalone Oculus Go headset, and it appears to be gearing up for its next big product, Oculus Quest, to release early in 2019.
Oculus Quest looks to bring the experience of PC-quality virtual reality to an untethered headset using six degrees of freedom tracking with four ultra-wide sensors located on the headset itself.
That’s a pretty big deal for VR. While mobile virtual reality experiences like Google Daydream View and the Samsung Gear VR bring VR to the masses with smartphones, the best-quality virtual reality remains tethered to a computer of some kind.
Oculus Quest looks to change that.
There’s some serious tech under the hood that enables for this untethered experience, like the sensors and trackers.
Oculus Quest boasts four wide-angle lenses that track both the controllers and your hands. It tracks everything around your head, and even some stuff behind you - which should allow for much more immersive content.
Oculus has had a long road in developing this headset: The company first announced it was working on an untethered headset in 2016 called Project Santa Cruz, but it wasn’t until Oculus Connect 2018 that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage to show off a revised and renamed unit.
But, when can you get your hands on the standalone headset for yourself? And what should you expect it to be able to do? Here’s everything you need to know about the new Oculus Quest virtual reality headset.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A high-end standalone virtual reality headset from Oculus
- When is it out? Spring 2019 in North America (Q1-Q3 2019)
- How much does it cost? $399 (about £302, AU$550)
Oculus Quest release date and price
You'll be able to go hands on with Oculus Quest in Spring 2019 (Q1-Q3 2019). Oculus will offer over 50 games and experiences for Oculus Quest at launch, with more coming shortly after launch.
How much will it set you back? Oculus Quest will cost $399 (about £302, AU$550).
- Is Project Santa Cruz really the Oculus Rift 2?
Oculus Quest features
Project Santa Cruz was first unveiled back in 2016, but at the time it was less refined. As you can see from the image below, it basically involved a tiny computer strapped to the back of your head. Now, all that tech has made its way into the headset itself.
Perhaps the biggest new feature is inside-out tracking, which involves putting all the sensors inside the headset rather than having to place cameras and sensors around you. That’s all thanks to the four wide-angle lenses and on-board processing, which can track your hand movements - and controller movements - in real time.
How does the headset track the controllers so accurately? We’ll dive into the hardware inside the controllers in the next section, but it essentially involves the use of tiny infrared LEDs, which is the point controlled by the camera.
Those cameras can continue to track even when the controllers are above the user’s head. This is a notable difference between this headset and Microsoft’s HoloLens design.
The result of all of this tech is that magic six degrees of freedom (6DOF), or the ability to move forward and back, side to side, and up and down in a virtual space. That’s something not all virtual reality headsets offer - especially mobile offerings like Daydream and Gear VR, which rely on smartphones to work.
A lot about Oculus Quest is still unknown. For starters, we don’t know the computing specs of the headset. It's basically a computer in and of itself, so it will need a processor, RAM, and storage, just like any other computer.
Perhaps equally important is battery life. Virtual reality can seriously tax a battery, but with a tethered headset that isn’t a concern. It would be surprising to see an untethered headset that can last more than a few hours, but we’ll obviously have to wait and see what Oculus Quets has to offer.
Oculus Quest controllers
A big part of the Oculus Quest puzzle is the controllers, and while they are similar to the current Touch controllers, there are a few notable differences. For starters, the controllers feature tiny infrared LEDs, which are tracked by the cameras in the headset.
Apart from that, the controller experience remains much the same.
The controllers still offer a pointer-accessible trigger button, along with a grip button on the side. That’s good news for those that are used to the existing Touch controllers, as it means that they won’t need to get acquainted with a new layout.