Facebook and Virtual Reality - the future is already upon us

11 October 2018
Oculus
The Oculus Connect 5 (OC5) conference held between 26-27 September 2018 in San Jose, California (USA) had a lot of announcements to make. Oculus VR, a Facebook subsidiary that already markets two Virtual Reality (VR) devices - Oculus Go and Rift - is set to add a third headset to its portfolio of products, the Oculus Quest.

What can we expect?

Developed under the code name “Project Santa Cruz”, Oculus Quest promises to revolutionise the VR market thanks to its unprecedented performance and ease of use: no cables and no need for a powerful computer (unlike Rift). Simply don the headset and it’s all systems go!

The six degrees of freedom (6DoF) are made possible thanks to the new Oculus Insight system. This tracking system relies on sensors mounted on the front of the headset thus eliminating the need for external sensors. The headset will also be equipped with a Guardian system, which informs the user of any obstacles and memorises the environment to avoid having to repeat the lengthy configuration process each time.

In terms of the visuals, the quality is there: Oculus boasts better quality lenses, a 110° field of vision, two competitive quality OLED screens (i.e. the same resolution as the Vive Pro), a refresh rate of 72 Hz (potential for further development prior to its commercial release), option to adjust the pupil distance, etc. And the sound quality is also good with improved bass compared to the Oculus Go system.

Plus 50 high quality Rift games will be available when it is launched and, as a bonus, a new three-episode Star Wars experience has been announced for 2019!

However, certain limitations have already been noted.

For example, the Guardian system can only memorise a space measuring 5 x 5 metres and Oculus Quest is not suitable for outdoor use.

Gabor Szauer, Developer Relations Engineer at Oculus, explains that the joystick sensors can’t track the space behind the user. This could be problematic if you stretch your arms out widely on your sides or place your hand behind your head. You will lose connection for a few seconds. Although this is just a detail, it is something to bear in mind: the field of vision is not infinite as it is associated with the user’s head.

Similarly, there is no news about the battery capacity, which suggests that it may not be great.

To test out these details and consequences, you’ll have to try out the headset for yourself. It is set to be released next spring retailing at $399 (or $449 depending on the usual conversion for Oculus products).

 

Oculus Go is also on board

OC5 also focused on products already on the market and their future developments. 

As a reminder, Oculus Go, which was released on 1 May 2018, offers a basic VR experience. The device is autonomous i.e. it does not require a computer or mobile device. It is equipped with its own processor, as well as a range of applications. However, Oculus Go has no intention of remaining the entry-level device we know today.

In particular, the proposed developments promise enhanced visual comfort on the centre and sides of the image compared to the first version, where the optical quality left much to be desired. The Fixed Foveated Rendering (FFR) technique, which centres and focuses the foveal rendering at the centre of the device to improve the device’s central point by reducing the image load elsewhere. Chromatic correction is also on the cards, as well as a move from the 60 to 72 Hz (per screen).

Another announcement: compatibility with YouTube VR, which has over 800,000 videos of all kinds. Netflix, Hulu, Pluto TV and Oculus Venues applications (participating in live events) are already available. Moreover, for fans of basketball, NBA matches will soon be available in Oculus Venues.

In terms of entertainment and fun, Oculus Go does not stop there. It will be possible to share your headset experiences with others thanks to the option to connect Oculus Go with a mobile device or a TV. Several new gaming applications, including the much awaited Covert, have also been announced.

 

The Rift was not outdone at OC5

 

Rift grand public                 Controllers du Rift
                                 

Rift, public version                                                  Rift Controllers

                                               

Following an initial version launched in March 2016, Rift will be redesigned and massive changes are expected.

But don’t panic! All the old versions (games, joysticks, etc.) can still be used with the all new Rift. The aim is to attract as many people possible to the VR sector, which is still not that well known. Zuckerberg’s (Facebook CEO) target following the launch of Rift i.e. to attract one billion VR users, is still a long way off as he pointed out with a touch of humour during his presentation. However, this target number is based on sound data; the development of high quality applications and improved user satisfaction requires about 10 million users to be viable. Mass consumption of VR headsets is synonymous with the development of high quality games and applications.

In the meantime, we can already enjoy some very nice developments in terms of existing features.

The Core 2.0 version has completed its beta-test phase! Core 2.0 will be launched in October with plenty of developments in terms of ergonomics and performance improvements, as well as new functionalities.

The Home part has been redesigned to feature a customisable and social space (option to share with 8 friends for now). It is even possible to import your own 3D models and animations to create a living décor to your taste.

The Dash part has also been overhauled and optimised so that it does not consume too many material resources and sends the user important data in one go (volume, charge level of joysticks, etc.). The management and organisation of the windows has also been streamlined.

And in terms of community and identity, there are plenty of improvements too! A special mention for the humanisation aspect thanks to the option to create a true-to-nature Expressive Avatar featuring moving eyes and mouth, subtle micro-expressions, etc. The mobile app is now available on iOS and Android systems for easier game installation and improved sharing with the community.

And let’s not forget the Hybrid App, which allows you to transpose desktop applications to VR with a smooth transition between 2D and VR. The team of partners working on this new technology can be contacted by developers wishing to know more about the project at: oc5riftdevs@oculus.com.


 

Rift version developpeur

Rift, developer version

 

As for Oculus Go, Rift will also have long awaited games such as Lone Echo II created by Ready at Dawn.

 

With all these improvements, Oculus VR offers a comprehensive range of VR headsets that are sure to please the general public and developers. Increasingly used in professional environments, AUSY has an in-depth understanding of the issues and can offer support for your bespoke solutions.

Don’t hesitate to check out our web page on Virtual Reality and Industry.

 

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