Technology Virtual reality: a new Oculus Quest in preparation at...

Virtual reality: a new Oculus Quest in preparation at Facebook

Generally well-informed sources from Bloomberg report that Oculus is preparing a new model of the Quest, its standalone VR headset. The launch should have taken place this fall, if the current health crisis had not spoiled the party.

Is the Oculus Quest already preparing to receive a successor in the medium term? This is what claims Bloomberg, who claims that the Facebook subsidiary is in the process of establishing plans for a launch in a few months. The specifications of this new Quest are not yet finalized – the sources suggest that several different designs are still being tested – but we should not expect major upheavals a priori: the new model should be sold as an incremental evolution of the Quest, not like a real helmet “next-gen”.

From a technical point of view, the only notable difference should be a slight increase in the refresh rate of the screens: while the Quest of first generation was limited to 72 Hz in order to preserve as much autonomy, the new model should pass at 90 Hz, like the original Rift and most PC VR headsets (the Rift S, however, peaks at 80 Hz). No major change, however, in terms of motion tracking, which will always rely on 4 cameras integrated into the helmet – compared to 5 for the Rift S.

The bulk of the developments will therefore focus on ergonomics. The new Quest should see its size reduced by 10 to 15%, and its mass lose about 100 g (460 g against 570 g for its predecessor). The Oculus Touch controllers would also be slightly redesigned to allow the battery covers to be held more firmly in place – some users of the first Quest indeed complain that these covers, placed under the palms of the hands, sometimes tend to dislodge during use.

A launch scheduled for the fall, but perhaps postponed to 2021

This new version of the Quest should have been launched this fall, during the developer conference Oculus Connect, which Facebook organizes annually in San José, California. But the current health crisis could very likely thwart these plans. In addition to the cancellation of the Oculus Connect in its “physical” form in favor of an entirely online event, the impact of the situation on the development and production capacities of the new helmet could force the company to postpone the launch in 2021.

The pace of evolution is accelerating

Anyway, these initial plans show the intention of Oculus to drastically accelerate the pace of evolution of the Quest compared to that of its offer for PC. Mark Zuckerberg himself had already publicly mentioned the development of “next Quest”, but one could imagine that this project would take longer to materialize: a launch of the new Quest in the fall of 2020 would indeed correspond to a delay of only 18 months after the release of its predecessor, in May 2019. The original Rift , he had waited more than 3 years before finding a successor with the Rift S.

This acceleration is not really surprising, inasmuch as the Quest proved to be a great success for Oculus. Zuckerberg has not failed to say and repeat in recent months how much sales of the autonomous helmet have exceeded expectations – which has also been strongly felt on availability. Since its sale, the Quest has very often found itself in a shortage situation. Things obviously did not improve in 2020: not only was production severely impacted by the health crisis, but demand also increased sharply due to the exit from the game event Half-Life: Alyx ; for the past few months, the Quest can also be used as a PC headset thanks to the Oculus Link functionality.

That said, at the time of writing, the Oculus Quest (first generation) is available from stock at the vast majority of French retailers. Take advantage, it may not last.

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