Quest … for freedom

Oculus Quest is the first affordable autonomous headset with 6 DoF (Degrees of Freedom) tracking for head AND hands (ed : HTC Vive Focus Plus is doing the same but it is designed/priced for professionals). I clicked on the pre-order button and waited till 22th of May to try it and give you my first impressions.

Let’s talk about Quest a bit more than in my previous post : this is well packaged and easy to set up, in less than 1 minute you can begin to play (if you have a large enough place to gesticulate freely without hurting someone or breaking trinkets !).

The display quality is quite good. I tried Oculus Quest and compared it to Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Go on Tuesday 28th of May. Display quality is better than Samsung Gear VR (with S7 inside) and quite the same as Oculus Go (even if we can notice the screen technology is not the same regarding the subpixel configuration). Screen Door Effect is not strong and you can even forget it.

Tracking quality is difficult to estimate. I used Oculus Quest inside (even with many windows and trying it during a quite sunny day). I did not reach to loose head tracking ! … but it seems Oculus Quest has some « glitches » of tracking sometimes when environment is too bright. Hand (controller) tracking is pretty well done. I tried to move my hands backward (out of sight) and even in this configuration I could not see the virtual hands doing tricky things (cameras should have a large enough field of view so virtual hands could only do tricky things out of our field of view in the headset). The only way to loose hand tracking is to hide controllers or put them just in front of the headset … obviously cameras cannot see them !

The ultimate test : I make children play with it (13 years old and even less … but 10 to 15 minutes since it is not advised to use such device before 13 years-old) without giving too much instructions (only to help them creating the « guardian ») … and it works !!! Just reading what Oculus asks them to do, they were able to launch and use applications … and have fun !

Graphic quality is an important point. Playing « Vader Immortal« , I could see CG artists tried to create high quality elements with « realistic » humans/robots/aliens, using normal map shaders … I am not sure this is what will make the job in such a device (even if Vader Immortal is well done). Since it is a smartphone inside, games and other experiences should take this into account and studios should work on the level and character design to fit the limitations. This is what Oculus did in « First Steps » or « First Contact » applications and what Baboab Studios did in « BonFire ». This will work better in my opinion and give a real feeling of immersion and presence. Developers and CG artists have to think « as we did before » : optimizing, optimizing, optimizing and they have to be not too « greedy », low poly games can be wonderful !

And what about interactions ? Well, it mostly depends on the application, so it is difficult to be objective on this point. From what I could see in games it is really equivalent to interactions you can have on Oculus Rift and this is a good thing ! For instance, interactions are various and rather intuitive in « Vader Immortal » and enables you to fight with a light saber, to manipulate objects with haptic feedback, to navigate in roomscale mode, to climb ladders …

To conclude, for a console price (450 € VAT included), Oculus Quest is a good system to enjoy VR applications at home. Easy to use, providing obviously less graphic quality than applications designed for PC headsets (HTC Vive (pro) / Oculus Rift (S) / WMR) but with the same immersion feeling and intuitive interactions … AND WIRELESSLY ! I think this device should bring VR in many homes next Xmas !

Affordable, autonomous, easy to use, it may also be used by professionals: industrial field, medical field, museography, marketing …

Some accessories may appear on the market. I hope there will be one which will fill the nose pad hole to stop light from entering inside the headset (the only real negative point for me). An additional battery pack could be a good idea for people who want to use Oculus Quest on an stall during an exhibition.

CAUTION : be aware that this is not like a console, you put the device on your head : it may be intense/tiring for your eyes, do not play game sessions that last too long (30 minutes ?). It could be a good idea if Oculus integrates a time limitation to prevent « binge VR players » to play during hours and hours.

Thank you to Immersive Display staff who welcomed me in their offices and lent me the Oculus Go, to Lionel Dominjon, Enozone team and Marc Travers for their feedbacks.

EDIT : I had some issues converging on GUI elements (reticle / window) while experiencing the video pass-through mode (during guardian creation/update): video seems to be in stereo but not using a 1:1 scale instead of GUI elements. Not really annoying when guardian has been setup (since there is no more video on screen) but can be disturbing !

Marc LE RENARD
Marc LE RENARD
lerenard@foks-lab.fr