Oculus’ $399 Quest to Take VR Mainstream
That puts Quest squarely in the middle of Oculus’s other two headsets: the mobile Oculus Go, priced at $199, and the Oculus Rift, which also costs around $400 but requires a high-powered PC to use.
The Quest hardware looks unremarkable from the outside, and it uses the same Touch controllers as the Rift. But there are four wide-angle sensors on the headset that are part of the technology that makes the Quest stand out. The Quest has six degrees of freedom—“6DoF” as it’s sometimes called—which allows your head to be tracked positionally, rather than just rotationally. In other words, you can move, not just look around.
Usually this six degrees of freedom is accomplished using sensors around the physical room, in addition to sensors on the VR headset. In the case of the Quest, no room sensors are needed. Instead, Facebook VR executive Hugo Barra said, the Quest is using “advanced computer vision algorithms to track your position in real time, without any external sensors.”
The company is calling this technology Insight. The four wide-angle sensors on the headset look for edges, corners, and distinct features in the room around you, and then build a three-dimensional map of the environment. Barra said the headset is calculating an estimate of your head position “every millisecond,” and can even deliver precise tracking in larger than room-scale areas.
Basically, Oculus is taking a technology that usually requires a bunch of sensors at multiple touch points around a room, and recreating the same experience with just the four sensors on your head, using machine learning and computer vision. It’s doing this using every piece of room info it can grab: floors, ceilings, light, wall art, furniture. There inevitably could be challenges with this; things like super shiny floors and white, unmarked walls could theoretically trip it up. Barra said Oculus has tested Insight in “hundreds of different home spaces” and is confident it will work even in these environments.
Facebook's Oculus division wants more people in VR. The Quest, its new high-powered stand-alone headset, takes a flying leap in that direction.www.wired.com