Earlier this year, Oculus announced the Oculus Go, a $ 199 standalone headset intended to drive VR experiences to people without the need for wires or smartphones. Today, the company followed up that announcement with a second, more expensive headset intended to drive a higher class of experience.
Instead of relying on external trackers like the Oculus Rift, the Oculus Quest’s inside-out tracking system can monitor your position from within the headset itself. Its motion controllers are similar to (but not identical) to those used for Oculus Touch. The display resolution is said to be 1600×1440 — Oculus’ blog post refers to the Quest as using the same “best-of-class” optics as the Oculus Go, but this may refer to the lenses, not the actual per-eye resolution. Resolution on the Oculus Go is listed as 2560×1440 (1280×1440 per eye), which would make the Oculus Quest superior to either the Rift or the Go. In its blog post, Oculus writes:
Oculus Quest will launch in Spring 2019 for $ 399 USD. Offering six degrees of freedom and Touch controllers, Oculus Quest makes it easy to jump right into the action—with no PC, no wires, and no external sensors. We also unveiled Oculus Insight, our breakthrough technology that powers inside-out tracking, Guardian, and Touch controller tracking. This innovative system uses four ultra wide-angle sensors and computer vision algorithms to track your exact position in real time without any external sensors. Insight gives you a greater sense of immersion, presence, and mobility, plus the ability to go beyond room-scale.
Originally known as Santa Cruz, the Oculus Quest supposedly represents Oculus’ attempt to deliver the holy grail of VR — wireless usage, built-in tracking, solid performance, and no need for a PC. We’ll believe it when we see it. Rift games won’t be automatically coming to Oculus, but supposedly porting Quest games to Rift will be as simple as a one-touch button press, with no need for ports or other optimization. We’ll believe that when we see it, too. The reason why is simple: Whatever hardware is baked into Oculus Quest, it’s going to use a different GPU solution than a standard AMD or Nvidia desktop/laptop GPU — and that means further optimization to make the game run ideally may be required before deploying it on the desktop.
Right now, it’s a little unclear what the future of VR looks like in the PC space. Oculus may have led with the Rift, but the company appears much more interested in pushing the idea of standalone VR. On the one hand, it’s not hard to see why — I own an Oculus Rift, and setting up the system and getting it running can be tedious at best. There are tracking issues to be solved, the configuration takes a fair bit of room, and it’s very much a first-generation type of solution. That’s not to say it isn’t fun — but from cable management to proper camera placement, there’s a lot of fiddling to get right.
The advent of wireless VR with higher performance and better visuals is an easy “gimme,” except for the overall level of sustainable graphics performance and the inevitable impact on visuals and battery life. Then again, we haven’t exactly seen much in the way of AAA support for VR in the first place. Building lower-cost headgear and focusing more on indie titles (Beat Saber, for example, is a fabulous game) may be a better way to build the nascent VR ecosystem. At the very least, it offers a simpler, faster way to jump into gaming. Nonetheless, we’d like to see an update to the Rift as well — the higher resolution would be extremely welcome.