Oculus Connect 6 (OC6) took place this Wednesday and Thursday at the San Jose Convention Center. Unlike last year’s event, with the unveiling of the Oculus Quest and Rift S, there wasn’t any expected major hardware announcements. But Oculus Connect is always a great opportunity to see advancements in the overall ecosystem. This year certainly didn’t disappoint.
Some announcements — like their social VR world called Facebook Horizon — have very little effect on our client base. If Facebook Horizon is a hit though, like Beat Saber, it will be good for the overall virtual reality ecosystem, as it gets more eyes on VR.
With this post, we’re going to focus on the announcements most relevant to our clients. We’re also going to help you strategize how to approach your Oculus app building going forward given these changes. If you have any questions on Oculus publishing, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Customer Success team!
OCULUS QUEST HAND TRACKING
As Quest users know, the Oculus Touch Hand Controllers are a significant step forward. Unlike the Go’s single controller, you get two controllers and can do more complicated movements which are reflected in VR. The Go, by comparison, is like a powerful laser pointer.
The only issue with Touch Hand Controllers is they don’t *feel* like how you’d use your hands in real life. You still have to grip the controllers, which have some weight to them. And even though InstaVR can visually display hands on the screen in the Quest, it feels a little disembodied.
The newly announced Hand Tracking for Quest is a huge step forward! You can do gestures and movements with your literal hands, and have that reflected in the VR experience. How does that happen? Using the cameras found on the Quest headset, which can identify the positioning of your actual hands and superimpose them on the VR environment.
What are some good use cases for the benefits of hand tracking over Touch hand controllers? Certainly VR Training apps will become more realistic. You can move and interact with objects in a more natural way. You can immerse yourself more into the VR, not having to be persistently reminded that you’re holding two VR controllers.
We expect — and we don’t know why this wouldn’t be the case — existing apps will be grandfathered in with just a software update push to the Quest enabling this fantastic new feature.
ETA & Cost: “Early 2020” and no cost listed
OCULUS LINK CABLE FOR CONNECTING QUEST TO A PC
Oculus Quest is the most powerful mobile standalone headset offered by Facebook. So why would you want it tethered to a computer? A couple reasons: A.) It allows you to run more powerful VR experiences that right now would be PC-only and 2.) It helps essentially expand the memory of your Quest, so you’re no longer limited to 128 GB
Consumers, and Rift + Rift S users, will also like that their existing library of content becomes instantly compatible on the Quest.
For Oculus Link to work, you’ll need a gaming PC with a USB-C port, the Oculus Link software, and a cable (Facebook will sell its own shortly, but supposedly you can also purchase from other suppliers).
So what does this mean for our clients? First off, you’ll probably want to hold off on the Rift-S purchase if you were considering it. Your Quest is now essentially as powerful as a Rift-S in capabilities, with the addition of mobility. If you already have a Rift-S, you can build apps for it with InstaVR with the knowledge that it will soon be capable of running on Quest.
This advancement only affects a small number of our clients, but shows Oculus’ commitment to making the Quest its center of focus over the next year. This was all but confirmed at OC6, when Oculus’ John Carmack divulged that Quest had seen the highest hardware retention of any Oculus solution.
ETA & Cost: As early as November 2019, and the Facebook Link fiber cable has a suggested retail price of $79
Not much mention of Oculus Go at OC6. This on the heels of the Oculus Go unveiling being the main focus of OC4, and updates on it being a major part of OC5. The only mention this week of the Go — 50 consumer games will be available to be ported from Oculus Go to Quest, which doesn’t really relate to our clients.
What to make of the Oculus Go lack of mentions? It’s safe to say that forward development of the Go is stalled. It makes sense, since the entry-level price point ($200), single hand controller, and lack of 6 Degree of Freedom tracking make it a notch below Quest.
That being said, is the Go still a viable tool for clients to use? Absolutely!
Unlike the Samsung Gear VR, the Go was not singled out as being sunsetted at all. In fact, it was praised by Carmack and others for providing a gateway to Quest with its powerful, all-in-on mobile capabilities (minus the Gear VR shortcomings).
So keep developing and distributing for the Go. It still has some great capabilities you can’t find on the Quest yet, like distributing remotely to headsets using Release Channels. At least for the foreseeable future, Go is still a very viable option for many clients.
Oculus Connect 6 was very positive for our clients. First off, no new hardware announcements is actually a good thing. We’d rather see upgrades to the existing hardware than having to buy new ones. And the price point of Quest is very enticing at $400.
The Oculus Link, and particularly Hand Tracking, will be very powerful to our more advanced clients. Anything that gets VR closer to reflecting real life is valuable. We’re still a little unsure on timeline — “early 2020” isn’t very specific — but when it’s ready, we’ll very happy to offer our clients this capability!