Gadgets

Oculus Quest standalone VR coming spring 2019 for $399

Standalone Virtual Reality is about to be the next big thing, in a very big way. Mark Zuckerberg, at the Oculus Connect keynote, announced on Wednesday that the Oculus Quest next-generation headset is coming next summer, for the pretty aggressive price of $399. The headset, previously demoed as Project Santa Cruz, is a mobile device that adds tracking of rooms and a like-PC motion controls.

The Oculus Quest is a stand alone piece of hardware — you wouldn’t need a PC or a phone to use it — much like the Oculus Go, the $199 mobile headset that came to market earlier this year. But, not like the Go version, the Quest looks to bridge the gap between mobile and PC VR, and bring a high-end experience with more advanced controllers and features. Zuckerberg also stated that many PC-based VR games and apps will be remastered to the Quest, possibly making the headset feel much closer in spirit to the PC-based Oculus Rift. The $399 price includes 64GB of onboard storage.

The headset resolution will be the same as Oculus Go: 1,600 x 1,440 pixels for each eye. (The Go’s resolution already looks fantastic for videos and web browsing, often overcomes the Rift.) It also has the same spatial audio speakers as the Go, which pipes audio in through the small holes found on the headband. How graphically-wise the Oculus Quest will be remains to be seen. Will it be more like a PC, more like a mobile platform, or something general in-between?

 

Stepped-up controllers

 

The Oculus Quest has two motion-touch controllers that are tracked in space, giving players the six degree of freedom, and having analog sticks, physical buttons and triggers at the same time. This is a big step up compared to the Oculus Go, which only has a simple pointer-type one-hand controller and only a three-degrees-of-freedom motion controls.

They are not exactly like the Oculus Touch controllers that are available with the PC-based Oculus Rift, but they look very similar. ‘Full hand presence’ is being promised in games, pretty much like what Rift already offers.

Google’s standalone VR headset, the Lenovo Mirage Solo, is adding an experimental six-degree-of-freedom controls, but right now it only ships out with a three-degree-of-freedom controller in the retail boxes.

 

Full-room tracking

 

The Oculus Quest uses four wide-angle camera sensors at the very edges of the headset, combining with an acceleration meter and a gyroscope information to track the spatial positions. The new tracking technology is called Oculus Insight, and it promises to work across much larger spaces than just rooms – parks, streets, etc.

According to Facebook’s Hugo Barra, the tracking has already been tested indoors, on various surfaces, and could potentially work up to 4,000 square feet (or more). The tracking will remember setups of different rooms that previously made in Guardian, the full-room-sensing tool that sets up safety boundaries. That larger-scale potential could really set it apart from small scaled VRs in future location-based or arena gaming.

 

Games and apps sound promising

 

There will be 50 games available when it arrives next year, according to Oculus. That’s not a ton, but some great games have been announced: Robo Recall, The Climb and Moss, which are some really good PC, consoles, and VR games. There’s also a Star Wars VR experience named Vader Immortal, the first episode of that experience comes out in spring 2020.

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