Connect with us

Technology

Oculus Quest hands-on: Future of virtual reality is closer than ever

Published

on


facebook virtual reality rob price oculus quest
An
early version of the Oculus Quest, being demoed in September
2018.

Rob
Price/BI


  • Facebook unveiled the Oculus Quest, its first
    standalone virtual reality headset that tracks where you are in
    a room.
  • Business Insider got to try it out.
  • It’s a remarkable device, but it still has some obvious
    shortcomings.
  • However, it points to a wild future ahead for virtual
    reality.

I got shot in the head on Wednesday.

Crouching behind a wooden crate in the desert, I was caught in a
gunfight when a stray bullet hit me square in the face. My vision
went red; I was dead — until I respawned 10 seconds later, after
running behind new cover.

I was at Facebook’s big virtual reality conference, Oculus
Connect, in San Jose, California, trying out the latest VR
headset from the Silicon Valley tech giant. The new device, the
Oculus Quest, is slated for a Spring 2019 launch, and attendees
were given the opportunity to test it out in a series of demos at
the event.

It’s the first major virtual reality headset that is both
completely standalone and able to track a user’s location in the
real world — meaning you’re freed from having to place external
sensors or lug around a backpack-mounted computer to power the
experience.


oculus quest headset
The
Oculus Quest headset, as seen in September
2018.

Rob Price/Business
Insider


From my admittedly brief time with it, it was a significant step
towards the future promised by virtual reality boosters — fully
immersive virtual environments, accessed through a simple headset
— but the technical shortcomings of the present were still on
clear display.

I got to try out two demos. One was Project Tennis Scramble, a
quirky tennis game where you face off against a real-world
opponent in virtual reality, as the racket and ball morph into
quirky sports objects like golf clubs and beach balls. 

During the demo, the headset felt a little heavy on the face, and
the Oculus Quest’s motion-sensitive hand controllers struggled to
return the ball in the direction I was intending — though I am
admittedly terrible at real-world tennis, so I may not be the
best judge of this.


oculus quest tennis
Oculus
Connect attendees playing virtual reality tennis with the Oculus
Quest in September 2018.

Rob
Price/Business Insider


Significantly more impressive was Dead & Buried, a Wild West
multiplayer shooter that was being held in a 4,000 square foot
arena. Teams of three faced off against each other, hiding behind
real-world objects that corresponded to pillars and crates in a
virtual world. 

It felt exciting and immersive, and the first time I got shot, I
involuntarily jolted backwards. It was surreal to feel real-world
objects corresponding to the virtual environment. And the
standalone headset meant I felt unimpeded by wires or additional
equipment, free to run around the area as I wished.

In contrast: During demos of the older Oculus Rift headset, which
must be tethered to an external computer, Oculus employees had to
hold attendees’ cables for them to they didn’t get tangled in
them.


facebook oculus rift
An
attendee uses the Oculus Rift with assistance from an Oculus
representative at the Oculus Connect conference in September
2018.

Rob Price/Business
Insider


This freedom, alone, makes it a significant step foward. And it
makes it a far more compelling product than the likes of the
Oculus Go, which, while standalone, can’t ascertain users’
real-world position or head motions, making it little more than a
toy.

But it still fails to to solve any of the fundamental problems
bedeviling virtual reality. It’s bulky and heavy, and will be
draining to wear on your face for long periods. You can’t focus
well on virtual objects close to you. And while it demoed well in
carefully controlled environments, it’s not yet at all clear how
it will perform in people’s actual homes. 

During the event keynote on Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark
Zuckerberg said that the company believes it needs about 10
million users on a VR platform to actually be self-sustaining and
making it worth developers’ time to keep building for it.

But a Facebook representative I interviewed refused to commit to
hitting that target for Oculus Quest sales, stressing that it’s
only the first generation of products — suggesting the company
isn’t exactly convinced it will be a commercial success.


oculus quest facebook
Attendees
at Oculus Connect play Dead & Buried, an arena-based shooting
game.

Rob Price/Business
Insider


Without trying it extensively in “real” environments, away from
Facebook’s minders, I’d be hesitant to recommend anyone buy the
Oculus Quest — and even then, it would come with caveats.

But it’s still remarkable — and demonstrates the potential of
virtual reality more clearly than ever.

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via Signal or WhatsApp at +1
(650) 636-6268 using a non-work phone, email at
[email protected]businessinsider.com, WeChat at robaeprice,
or 

Twitter DM at @robaeprice. (PR pitches by
email only, please.) 

You can
also contact
Business Insider securely via SecureDrop
.

Continue Reading
Advertisement Find your dream job

Trending