This blog covers almost everything about tech startups and VR; news, reviews, and previews. VR news and information posted in layman terms, The Ghost Howls takes in consideration everyone even remotely interested in VR and report accordingly.
Game of Thrones Presents: The Dead Must Die - A Magic Leap Encounter - YouTube
GOT experience presented here in Qingdao is maybe the best “room scanning experience” I have ever tried in my life.
like this: you put the Magic
Leap One on your head, and then
you start scanning your room to prepare Magic Leap tracking for the true
experience. To do that, you have to search in your room for some flying
rings and look at them until they become frozen: when you find one and you have
looked at it for enough time, you can go to the next one. All of this is used
to let Magic Leap scan all the room properly without giving the user the
impression that he is just scanning the room for technical purposes. The
process is pretty boring and took me some minutes to complete.
After the tracking has been initialized, the app starts and asks you to select a proper wall. After you have chosen a wall that is big enough, you see a dagger appearing in front of you and you have to pick it with your controller. After a while, a big frozen portal opens up in the wall you selected and a bad man comes out of it, wanting to kill you. Seen from some meters of distance, the portal in the wall appears pretty cool and believable and looking through it, you can see a frozen world.
man comes towards you and you have to
fight with him. And that’s a pretty weird fight, since the dagger looks
almost transparent, and so you can’t see
it that well. At the same time, the enemy comes really close to you, so you
have no idea of what he is doing, because
due to the low FOV of Magic Leap, you don’t see well him as well. So, in
the end you resort moving the dagger in a random way against him… and bam! At the first hit he dies. He falls to
the floor and the experience is over.
My face when Magic Leap experience ended (Image by Know Your Meme)
3 minutes of room scanning and 30 seconds of experience. In the end, I think Magic Leap has done a great job in making the room scanning experience using GOT’s rings [sarcasm]. That’s impressive: moving in the room just to prepare the tracking for an experience that almost don’t exist is really exciting. Who is the director of this experience? Robert B. Weide?
Gloomy Eyes is an experience set in a world where there is a fight between the humans and the zombies.There is a little girl, with a cute dog, in the humans’ world. Her uncle and his gang want to kill all the zombies. On the other side, there is a little zombie boy (actually, half human, half zombie), with the eyes that are lit and creepy (from here, the title of the experience). He’s a nice guy… but you know, he’s also a zombie, so he also eats people.
The dog of the girl sometimes go playing with the little boy. And thanks to this, at a certain point, they meet. They look one in the eyes of the other. You can see that some sweet feeling is coming to light, when the uncle of the girl sees the zombie boy and tries to shoot him. He falls from a bridge, lands in the water and there the experience ends.
It is a pretty short experience, because it is
just a first prologue episode. I think that the authors are looking for money to continue it.
I think that Gloomy Eyes is very cute. First of all, it is interesting the choice of the authors of creating a real-time 6 DOF experience in third person, where you see all the story unfolding in a mini-world that is around you. Then the graphics are similar to the one of animations movie like Hotel Transilvania, and also the mood is very similar: yes, there are zombies, but they are cute ones (the boy plays fetch with the dog launching him a dead hand), and there is a lot of dark humor happening.
The visuals are very well conceived and also some special effects make the experience more pleasant: when the boy and the girl see each other, you can see some purple colored particles coming from the floor and making them fly. It is a great allegory of love.
And the fact that it is narrated by Colin Farrel is for sure a plus.
I would like to see how the story unfolds: Gloomy Eyes was very short IMHO, but it looks promising. For this reason, it has just won a prize at the Paris NewImage festival.
Nothing To Be Written
Nothing To Be Written | Oculus Go - YouTube
Nothing To Be Written is a 3 DOF VR experience about the world war. It is based around the fact that during WW1, the British soldiers could send to the families some letters with preset messages (e.g. “I’m fine”, “I’m returning to the base”, or “I won’t be able to write to you for five days”, etc…) to communicate them simple things and also show the family they were still alive. The advantage of these letters was that they didn’t need to pass through censorship, so they delivered faster. The disadvantage was that the soldiers weren’t able to write anything else on that, just fill the preset messages and sign them.
The experience starts showing you one of these letters, that you send to your family at home… and then you start seeing a lot of them flying towards their destinations, meaning that the soldiers that were in the battlefield sending them were really many. After that, you start seeing a set of visual animations showing you how these letters were the connecting thread between the men on the front line and the families. So you maybe see the interior of a house, then a letter of this kind arrives and with some smooth transitions, the parts of the house slowly become a barrack, or a trench, and inside them you see the silhouettes of all the soldiers there. Then these transitions happen again, parts of the trench disappear and piece after piece they become another house, and so on. During all these animations, you see the war zones and the civil zones always more connected. It is a way of showing how there were people at home worried for the soldiers that could die in war, how the war entered the houses of these people.
The experience ends with a soldier taking one of this letters at your home. It is the same letter that you sent at the beginning. So, during the experience, you just followed its travel.
Nothing To Be Written is a well-made experience and for sure thanks to very good visuals and audio soundtracks is able to create a good sense of discomfort in the user. War is always unpleasant and this experience is able to show how it impacted the life of many families in a creative way. It has an original theme (I didn’t know about this kind of war letters) and has a very original way of performing the scene transitions. It fostered also some sad sensations in me, so it worked.
It was not one of my favorite experiences, though, because I hoped for a more strong ending. For instance, I thought that at the end you received a letter that your husband died, after all the letters he sent you… while actually, you just get the letter of the beginning. It closes the circles, but I hoped for a more strong climax. I think this is something that you see to have feelings, to think about the war and how it was impactful, and that’s it.
Reggie Watts’s Grease
'Grease' at 40: Volumetric Capture at Intel Studios Celebrates Iconic Movie - YouTube
I continued hearing Grease’s most popular song while I was in the screening venue, so in the end I went to see what was happening there and I found the Grease experience made by Reggie Watts in collaboration with Intel. Basically, Intel has recorded with its technology a volumetric capture of Reggie Watts’s crew while dancing the Grease musical. It has been a really hard work, made with top-notch technology. After that, it made the experience available in augmented reality.
So, I was able to take a tablet, put some headphones on, and frame with the camera of the tablet a round table with a big Grease logo on (clearly a marker for the experience). After that, the Grease music started and on the tablet, I was able to see Reggie Watts’s crew dance at its rhythm.
The quality of the visuals was astounding: Intel has did really a great job in recording the performance. I could see them dancing in the table as if they were just real minions, and since the tracking was rocking solid, I could zoom on them in and out and rotate around the table and everything was so good. Only when going very close to the dancers I could see the imperfections of the volumetric recording technology (people from very close look like impressionistic pictures). And it was so cool that also the environments were changing from time to time… so the floor changed color, the furniture around the dancers changed in real time in front of me and so the experience was more variated.
It has been one of the most original tabletop AR experiences that I’ve tried until now.
I tried to shoot a photo with my smartphone to the tablet I was holding in hand. It’s a bit blurry, but as you can see, there is a virtual dancefloor on the table!
And that’s it for this post! Today has been a great day… and I have also had a selfie with Joanna Popper during the party in the evening (you can see that in the header)! But stay tuned because my experiences here in China are not finished yet…
Yesterday, for the first time I have been able to try two headsets: the Pico Neo and the HP Reverb. I have had only a limited time with them inside which I have only watched 360 videos and so I haven’t even been able to use the controllers… but I think that my time with them was enough to give you my first impressions.
Are you interested? Then, let’s start.
Front view of the Pico Neo. Its black/white division of the faceplate is pretty unique
The Pico Neo has probably been the first full 6 DOF standalone headset. From the reviews that I read when it came out, I know that it may have some little problems with the controllers tracking due to the only one ultrasound sensor installed on the headset, but as I said, I had no controllers, so I can’t tell.
From what I have tried, I have to say that I’m not impressed by this device.
The shape is fine and personally, I found the choice of the external material of the headset interesting: the plastic that you see is covered with a rubber layer that gives a velvet sensation when you touch it with your hands. That’s a quite original choice.
The device features two tracking cameras for positional tracking and one ultrasound sensor for the tracking of two 6 DOF controllers. On the lower part of the headset, there is a button to turn it on, off or put it in sleep mode (I found the possibility of putting it in sleep mode manually interesting). On the top of the halo that makes your headset fit your head, there are various buttons: two to change the volume level, and three to navigate all the menus even if you don’t have the controller (home/confirm/back). The idea of having all the buttons of one controller on your headband is really good, because it means that you can use it to watch 360 videos and such even without controllers, and this is fantastic for exhibitions. The drawback is that understanding exactly what little button you’re using while the headset is on your head, just by sensing them with your fingers, is not always easy.
Zoom on the interaction buttons on the Pico Neo headband. They are very functional, but not always easy to grasp if you’re not used to this device
The worst thing about the Neo is comfort. The Pico Neo is for my head the least comfortable VR headset: it is even worse than the Lenovo Mirage Solo in this. There is not a knob or straps to regulate the headband, but a strange mechanism that basically makes you use directly your hands to pull the two rear parts apart to enlarge the device and push them closer to make it tighter. It sounds more natural than using a knob, but actually, it is not. And whatever I tried to make it stay on my head, I always felt it uncomfortable, so in the end, I surrendered. Regarding hardware IPD setting, it lacks as well. Ergonomics are very important in VR, and the Neo is lacking them.
Rear View of the Device. From it, you can see the fitting mechanism. Pulling those two parts apart, you can enlarge the headband.
Regarding the visuals, the Neo uses a 2880×1600 LCD display. The resolution is quite good (the same of Quest and Focus+), and the fill factor is great (you know, LCD are better than OLED), so thanks to the low SDE, it is a good device to watch VR videos. The visual sweet spot was nice, even if looking at the edges of the lenses I was able to spot some chromatic and spherical aberrations. Official FOV is 101°, more or less in line with its companion standalone headsets. But I found the colors of the display really washed out, and this was a bit a problem to me.
Pico Neo’s lenses. Can’t say much about godrays and such since they were not that clean. For sure they weren’t second-gen ones
The original Neo is quite an old device now, so it is probably obvious that I came not impressed by trying it.
Me, happily wearing the HP Reverb
I was curious of trying the HP Reverb since when I read about it on Road To VR (it was still codenamed as “Copper” at that time). So, when I had the opportunity of trying it, even only for watching a 360 video in Chinese for 10 minutes, I immediately caught it.
For what I can tell, the Reverb is like an improved Rift CV1. HP has a bit copied that design of the Rift CV1, but the device feels more little and light. It is all covered in fabric, and this gives to it an elegant touch that lets you perceive it as a piece of clothing that you wear on your head. I liked its design: there is nothing original (the shape is similar to Rift, the clothing idea comes from Daydream), but it is very pleasant.
Front side of HP reverb: as you can see, the device is all covered in grey fabric
The comfort was also very nice: I was able to fit it pretty fast through the three straps (two on the sides and one on the top) and I found the sweet spot in my head. Being very light and soft, I felt it pretty well on my head.
There is no flip-up display, but the headset can be rotated a bit upwards, and this is good because it not also makes the headset easier to wear, but it also lets you give a fast sneak peek of what you have below your head easily. Audio is integrated, thanks to external headphones attached to the headband.
Lateral view of the HP Reverb. The headband can be rotated a bit upwards.
The positional and controllers’ tracking is performed by using the two frontal cameras of the device. This a WMR inside-out tracked headset and this means that the setup is very easy and just requires the user to plug two cables in the PC. The problem of this kind of devices is always the comfort and tracking of the controllers, though, but I can tell you since I have not tried them.
What I can tell you are instead my impressions on the visuals. This device features a whopping 2K per eye resolution. I’ve tried it to watch an 8K video (Mr. Buddha) and I was “WOW”. Thanks to the fill factor of LED displays and the 2*2K resolution, I can tell you that the screen door effect is almost inexistent. You can see the pixels only if you really try to focus on them and only if the area that you are looking at has bright colors (e.g. white). For the rest, the SDE remains like a “slight perception”. Your brain can identify that something is wrong with your visuals, sometimes you can see like a grid that is moving with your face… but you can’t really identify that grid like with other headsets. I was impressed: with an 8K video and this headset, the video felt real. This could be great for por…cough cough I mean, for 360 educational experiences in VR.
LED is great for fill factor, but it also means that the colors are not bright. I have to say that I was not impressed by display colors, but in the video that I saw, they didn’t appear completely washed out either. It seemed a reasonable compromise. But I was able to spot the same problem of my review hero Ben Lang of Road To VR: red smear. It is quite a weird issue of this headset: if you move your head left to right pretty fast, you can see like a red trail originating from the black elements in the scene. I have never had this same issue with other headsets. I hope HP will be able to fix this in future software updates.
View of the lenses of HP Reverb. They seem second-gen ones
The FOV seemed in line with other devices (HP says it is around 114° diagonal). I have not noticed big visual artifacts… but Mr. Buddha was not the best video to evaluate god rays and glares (it was all dark). The lack of hardware IPD adjustment may be a problem for some people.
HP said that wanted to create an enterprise device to satisfy the companies asking for more resolution. I think that they nailed it: I was really impressed by the resolution. If they manage to fix the red smear and other little visual problems, the Reverb can be an interesting enterprise headset. It is not a super-innovative headset like the Valve Index, but it gets the job done for the most part and then it shines for its visual definition.
I hope you have enjoyed these first-impression reviews! Here the sun has risen and the first people are going to the beach… so in 2 hours I will be again at Sandbox Immersive Festival! Stay tuned to read about my new adventures here!
Differently from the other times, when I just wrote a mega-post about my experience at an event, this time I will split this summary about the first day in more parts, so that you can read it in a more efficient way Ok, let’s start!
The Sandbox Immersive Festival takes place in Qingdao, China.
Qingdao is an amazing city... the seaside is one of the best I have ever seen… romantic and technological at the same time. It has something magical.
Far from the sea, Qingdao looks like many other Chinese cities. Anyway, it is not as advanced as Beijing or Shanghai, so stuff is a bit cheaper, but at the same time you have the shortcoming that the English language is a mistery here. So you had better staying in the hotel with the other people of the SIF if you don’t want to practice some Mandarin.
View of part of the Qingdao seaside from my window
My first impression of the Sandbox Immersive Festival is that it is full of amazing storytelling experiences, full of nice conferences and full of interesting people. In just one day, I have been able to meet people like:
My friends of the XR Story group in Wechat: Eloi Gerard, Gianluigi Perrone, Rob, Nikk, etc…
The smart Venture Capitalist Tipatat Chennavasin;
The journalist Jesse Damiani (he’s an amazing guy, really);
The winner of the price for best VR experience at Biennale del Cinema di Venezia Chuck Chae;
In one day, I did some crazy networking and I had fun talking with lots of people. It’s been fantastic meeting and hugging with people that I knew only virtually.
The festival is well organized and we all live in a wonderful hotel on the seaside (thanks Eddie and Coco for this). There are only two problems:
Booking the experiences is a pain. This is a common problem of all storytelling festivals (Tribeca, SXSW, etc…). Storytelling experiences are quite long, and so only a limited number of slots are available each day to try them, and so only a few people can try them. That’s a pain… the exhibition is not “scalable”. To try some experiences today, I had to lie, cheat and steal like Eddie Guerrero, because using just the official methods it would have been impossible;
Volunteers try to be helpful, but their English is limited. So, if you ask something to someone, he will ask for help to the person that knows English better than him/her. Most probably he/she won’t be able to speak with you as well, so in the end, you had better speak some Chinese or to pray saint Google Translate to have what you need.
The venue where you can try immersive experiences at the Sandbox Immersive Festival. Those blue signs signal the name of the booths where you can try the VR apps that you want
Regarding the experiences, let me tell you what I’ve tried today (Warning! IT WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS).
GYMNASIA | Official Teaser Trailer - YouTube
Gymnasia is a 3DOF experience by Felix&Paul Studios and National Film Board Of Canada. From the names of the two studios creating it, you already know it should be a high-quality experience.
And actually it is: you start in this old school gym, and slowly light starts entering through the window. The transition from dark to light is slow, and a bit creepy. It is implemented perfectly: the shading of lights is very well made (I guess they used Unreal) and seems credible. When there is full light, you see that this gym is like part of an abandoned school and everything is falling into pieces. Inside there are some very old basketballs.
Suddenly, you start seeing the shadows of some kids running in the gym. Then, one ball starts to bounce, and so all the others. The shadow of the kids starts practicing basketballs. It is as if you were seeing the memories of the past stories lived in that court. Of course, this is strange and unsettling.
After that, a creepy puppet on a wheelchair enters the gym, another puppet appears on a stage and they start singing a melancholy song thanks to the piano that starts playing itself. After they finish, the experience ends.
I’m a simple man, and so I have no idea what it does mean. The “plot” has really no sense for me… I think it is stuff that only super-intelligent creatives understand. For all us average Joes, it is like the experience is too short and misses another piece that explains what you have just seen… because currently, the first reaction that you have after you finish watching it is:
Exactly my thoughts
Apart from these misunderstandings, the experience is a very high-quality one. The light effects, the shading, the 3D models, everything is beautiful. And the mix of the old environment with creepy things happening is really able to foster in you a big sense of discomfort: everything looks creepy, and this uncertainty about what is going to happen makes you fear the future. I loved this feature of Gymnasia more than everything else.
My final opinion is: beautiful, but it should be longer.
2018 金馬影展TGHFF | 董仔的人 Mr. Buddha - YouTube
I’ve watched the final 30% of Buddha VR, an 8K movie by Funiq Studio. I can’t tell much about the plot, because I missed 70% of the movie and it was all in mandarin (as I’ve told you, I had to do compromises to try some experiences today), but I can tell you that:
Watching a 8K movie on a 2K-per-eye-headset like the HP Reverb was impressive. Really. The resolution is so high, that if the proportion of the objects that you see were good, you could almost believe them as true. I was astonished;
It seemed really well made. A bit crude maybe, but for sure intriguing even if I couldn’t understand a single thing;
The fact that you don’t impersonate a person, but an inanimate object (a precious head of Buddha) is quite original. And this also creates some interesting reactions in you when for instance people touch you (it is creepy that they are touching your face… but actually they’re just touching an object) or when you see yourself in a mirror (you see that you’re embodying an object… how weird!)
It was short for me, but nice.
Last Whispers / Trailer - Vimeo
Last Whispers is a 3DOF experience about lost languages. Slowly all countries are trying to educate people to only learn the official language, and while this is great for education, it makes people start forgetting the old dialects. This means that a lot of languages are getting lost. This is an incredible problem that is leading to the impoverishment of the culture of this world.
Last Whispers tries to sensibilize people about this topic. And does this putting you inside an oniric black&white vision of the Earth, with some points blinking on it and emitting the sounds of the language that is going to die in that region.
While I loved the idea of preserving lost languages, I have to say that I found the experience pretty boring.
4 feet: Blind Date
4 FEET: BLIND DATE | Official HD SXSW Trailer (2019) | VIRTUAL CINEMA | Film Threat Trailers - YouTube
4 Feet: Blind Date is maybe the best experience that I’ve tried today.
It is the story of a disabled teenage girl that wants to have the same sex life as all the other girls of the same age. In this 20-minutes long 360 video, you follow the adventures of Juana from when she gets a match on Tinder to when the appointment with him finishes. The story is narrated through a series of flashbacks that start during the various stages of the date and that let you understand all that happened even before the date itself (when the date happened, how she travelled to the place, etc…).
This way you see all the problems that a disabled teenage girl has: people looking at her, cars that risk running on her, the difficulty of getting on and off a bus, and especially the inquietude of this girl when going on a date with a guy that doesn’t know she is on a wheelchair. Being a teenager is already hard and everyone thinks that he/she is awful in those years. Imagine what can think a girl with physical problems.
But what I loved is that all of this is not narrated through compassion: she is a strong girl and just want to have a normal life, and have a sexual life. She goes to the date anyway, even if she’s afraid. She answers to little kid curious about her chair saying that she’s on the wheelchair because she’s a robo-assassin. It is a story of a courage, of fighting against the physical limitations. And the fact that it narrates the theme of the sexual life of disabled people is also very interesting.
The movie is not in first-person and is also original because it mixes cartoon elements to the video shot with a 360 camera. It’s very melancholy, but also ironic. It’s somewhat childish but also erotic. It’s a very well made experience, that remains inside you after you have tried it. It was really great.
Doctor Who: The Runaway
FIRST LOOK: The Runaway VR Trailer | Doctor Who - YouTube
I was excited to try “Doctor Who: The Runaway” because it is actually a famous experience in the VR ecosystem. After I have experienced it, I have mixed feelings about it.
The experience narrates the story of Doctor Who that has in her “office” a strange cute alien creature that she wants to help return to his planet. If you fail in this mission, the creature will become a black hole and destroy all the galaxy. If you succeed, everyone will be happy.
While you are in this mission, some difficulties will happen: some of them will be solved by Doctor Who herself, while in others you should help her by using a special “pen” that can attract objects that she gives you during this experience.
I don’t want to spoil you much since I guess that many of you will want to see it when it will come out for all major headsets (Cosmos included) in September.
What I can say is that the graphics are very nice: it is a 6 DOF experience, real-time rendered. Graphics are cartoonish and very pleasant to be seen. I found the alien creature very cute. I also appreciated the attention on some visual details during the various interactions.
The mood is good: Doctor Who is super-positive, super-active and this gives you good vibes throughout all the experience, even when you have troubles to solve. The fact that you have the impression that this experience can’t finish bad makes you play in a very relaxed way and this makes the experience really pleasant. Good vibes for everyone.
At the same time, this is its shortcomings: at no time, the troubles seemed real troubles to me, because I had always the impression that there was no possibility of “dying” in this experience, and this made it a bit unrealistic and unmotivating. There some interactive moments, where you have to move some stuff with the magic “pen”, but the interactions are always very simple and feel just there because someone has read in a book that you have to add interactivity to make a storytelling content more immersive. What I want to say is that interactions are mostly simple and useless, and don’t fit well in the story.
I think that it can be a very good experience for kids. It’s well-done, cartoon-like, short (20 minutes), simple and always positive. It’s perfect in this sense.
And that’s it for the experiences tried today! If you like my summaries of my journeys, don’t forget tosubscribe to my newsletter. so not to miss my reports on the next things that I will try at SIF!
If the Paradise was in China, its name would be Qingdao. I’m for the second time in this beautiful city, writing this newsletter while I see an amazing seaside full of colored lights from my window (before I had a walk there and I was astonished).
You know, I’m here for the Sandbox Immersive Festival that will begin tomorrow and I’m ready to tell you all my experience here! Stay tuned on my blog for updates about this new adventure of mine.
But for now, let me do a recap of the best news of the past week in AR and VR!
Top news of the week
(Image by Upload VR)
HTC has revealed the design of the Vive Cosmos
HTC has finally unveiled some information on the Vive Cosmos. As it promised the previous week, on Friday it has revealed something about the new device, but without spoiling everything. All the info will be revealed during the upcoming weeks, every Friday. The number of these episodes is unknown, but according to a little bird that talked with me, they will be four (not official info, though, so take it with a grain of salt). So in one month, we will discover everything about the Cosmos, including price and release date.
The most important info shared Friday is a (weird) video with the external new design of the device. The Cosmos faceplate features a new pattern… and apart from the aesthetics, the crux is that it is now possible to see that the headset now features even 6 tracking cameras for positional and controllers’ tracking: two on the front, two on the sides, one on the top of the Faceplate, one on the bottom of the faceplate. This configuration is interesting because:
6 cameras in those positions allow for a very big tracking cone for the controllers;
The two front cameras are in the same position of the eyes and this will allow mixed reality applications using the SRWorks framework.
The top and bottom cameras are actually anchored to the faceplate. And since it has been unveiled that the faceplate can be removed, this means that they are optional. So only 4 cameras are actually built in the device. What is interesting is that a removable faceplate means that HTC may release a whole set of different faceplates for different purposes and this would make the Cosmos very powerful (especially if the specs of this faceplate will be made public, so hackers can mod the Cosmos as they want).
The Cosmos is very intriguing, but its success will depend on the price. HTC has told in the past that this is a headset more consumer-oriented, but Sebastian Ang of Mixed Reality TV has reported that, according to a reliable source, the price will be 899. HTC has immediately answered that 899$ is a too high estimate of the price. Sebastian answered that the price won’t be 899$, but 799$ for US and 899€ for EU (we have VAT). HTC has not answered with further clarifications, but I hope that the price will be much lower…799$ still sounds too “enterprise” to me. I hope for at least $100-$200 less, so the device can compete with the HP Reverb and similar headsets in a pro-consumer range.
Other relevant news
(Image by Upload VR)
Oculus has teased the OC6
Oculus has just announced the dates for the Oculus Connect 6. It will be held at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California on September, 25–26th. What is interesting the most of this announcement is that in the invitation to the event it is stated “Join us to begin a new chapter of virtual and augmented reality”.
Yes, you’ve read it well. Augmented Reality. Oculus is going to announce something not only about VR but also about AR. This is very intriguing: Oculus has just finished announcing its full line of first generation Virtual Reality headsets (Go, Rift, Quest) and now it has to start talking about its next generation. At the same time, it has already officially stated that it is working on augmented reality glasses. And according to rumors, it is also building a full metaverse that should substitute the unsuccessful Facebook Spaces.
So, what can we expect from OC6? For sure some surprises: we don’t know anything about the 2nd gen of XR that Oculus has in mind. I think we could see:
The announcement of a pair of augmented reality glasses by Facebook. Maybe they will work with a phone, exploiting the new Qualcomm reference designs. This would be a very good move to come to the market before Apple, that will likely announce its AR glasses from Q4 2019 on;
The announcement of a new generation of VR devices that will also be capable of providing AR, a bit like the VRVANA headset (whose company has been acquired by Apple as well). This could also be a move to counteract the probable future actions of Samsung, that is rumored to announce an amazing AR/VR hybrid standalone headset;
The showcase of a new pro device based on the Half-Dome prototype, to fight the Valve Index… and that will become the Rift Pro;
The announcement of a new Facebook Metaverse. This could also be a nice testbed for the new Libra cryptocurrency created by Facebook;
New info on the AAA VR game that Respawn Entertainment is making for Oculus and that has been teased months ago (this is actually the only confirmed news).
In any case, I’m sure this OC6 will set the beginning of a new era for Oculus/Facebook, so I’m very intrigued.
Magic Leap has sued Chi Xu, the founder of nReal. nReal is one of the most interesting AR startups of 2019 and is offering very light and very cheap augmented reality trendy glasses that you can attach to your phone. According to Magic Leap, the company has been able to create these intriguing devices so fast only because Chi Xu was a former Magic Leap employee. Magic Leap believes that Xu has stolen some technologies that Magic Leap was working on, with the only purpose of building his own company. After his ML experience, Chi Xu has flown to China, where he has founded his AR company.
Honestly, I don’t know where is the truth and will be the judges the ones that will tell us what has actually happened. What is sure is that:
Actually, the nReal glasses are completely different from the ML1, so either the claims are not true, or nReal are based on a technology that ML has behind the curtains. According to some people, nReal are actually based on Qualcomm reference designs above all else;
For sure Chi Xu has used some of the expertise gained in Magic Leap while running his new AR company. What the judges will have to decide is if he has only used his experience or also some secret technologies;
If the claims will be found true, ML will have hard times prosecuting nReal in China, were Western patents are basically ignored. But it can create troubles to nReal in selling the device abroad;
The biggest part of the community is against ML in this case. Some people claim that ML is suing nReal because it is afraid of a startup that has been able to create a better product with much less funding; others say that if ML had that technology, it should have released cheap AR glasses as well; others remember how Magic Leap may have de facto killed its other competitor ODG to buy its patents for a cheap price. Anyway, everyone is waiting for an official sentence.
nReal has also been sued by Epic Games for its name that is too close to “Unreal”. I think that what is happening in this period will also decide if this company may actually succeed or not. We’ll discover it in the upcoming times.
The launch of the Valve Index is approaching and actually the American company has already started shipping some devices. For this reason, the Index icon now appears on the side of compatible games on SteamVR.
This is the right moment for a marketing push, and that’s why Valve is releasing a series of “deep-dive” content marketing articles on the Index. This week, Valve has released a very interesting technical article about the Field Of View of its headset. It is content marketing, but it has been written very well and explains you all the principles behind the field of view. For instance, I’ve learnt that every person perceive a different FOV of the same headset based on the shape of his/her face (that’s why my friend Rob highlighted so much the importance of ergonomics in VR in a post here on this blog), because even 1mm more of distance of the eyes from the lenses can make an important difference in FOV perception. Thanks to this post, I have also finally understood the importance of the canted optics of the Index. I suggest you to read this article, because it is very interesting.
Harry Potter Wizards Unite is now available for Android and iOS.
It is the new AR+geolocation game from Niantic, the company behind the huge hit Pokemon Go. It is basically a game that is based on the same framework of Pokemon Go (so, Ingress), but that lives inside the Harry Potter ecosystem. You have to go around your city and find some beasts against which you can fight with magical spells. When it has been announced, analysts predicted huge success for the game, even if I was actually skeptical… because it sounded too much like a Pokemon Go clone and so there wouldn’t have been the novelty factor that made Pokemon Go so disruptive.
According to the first reviews, I was right. The game seems not bad at all, and features also some interesting upgrades over Pokemon Go (e.g. the spell combats are much more intriguing than just launching pokeballs, there are now classes of characters, etc…). But it still remains too similar to its predecessor. Furthermore, this game now introduces a new feature about “the energy”: to cast spells you need energy, but it drains pretty fast and if you want more, you have to pay real money for it. The game looks at the moment too based on this kind of microtransactions and also lacks some very compelling features (like full character customizations). Furthermore, the Harry Potter story doesn’t fit that well into a game that makes you move around a city.
The first feedback I got from the community are In line with “nice, but it could be better”. Popular journalist Robert Scoble has told that it is not bad, but that it prefers playing Beat Saber. I think it summarizes everything.
We’ll see how it will perform in the upcoming months when the game will also be probably updated. Personally, I think it will have a decent number of downloads, and nothing more. I’m more intrigued by the originality of Minecraft Earth.
Airbus is improving its production processes with HoloLens 2
Airbus is using HoloLens 2 in its production processes, gaining huge advantages. Thanks to Mixed Reality, it is now able to validate the designs of new parts of airplanes in a time that is 80% less than the one needed with traditional methods.
The company is now a very close partner for Microsoft and has already in mind more than 300 scenarios where MR can be applied to improve its production, that thanks to this is expected to grow fast in the upcoming years.
This shows once more how XR in general has an amazing potential in the industrial environment (and if you need help in integrating AR/VR into your business, let me know how I can help you).
Youtube is going to launch a very interesting AR feature
On iPhone, you will be able soon to try a new amazing AR feature on the Youtube app. When watching a review/tutorial on a makeup product, you will be able to activate a split view and see on half of your screen the video, and on the other one your face taken from the front camera of the phone with a virtual try-on feature of the product you’re watching.
I found an interesting article about DataViz in XR
I found this very interesting article that talks about data visualization in virtual and augmented reality. It is split into two parts: the first one explains some basic concepts of optics, many of which you probably already know (vergence, accomodance, etc…) and a few ones that you probably don’t know (like the Horopter plane). The second one gives a series of pieces of advice on how to create the UI and UX of a DataViz XR experience. If you want to create some data visualization framework in AR/VR, I really advise you to give it a read.
HTC Store, once known as a nightmare by VR users, has actually become better, and according to Road To VR, it is now worth activating at least the free trial. It is interesting to know that now there are discounts to buy games and subscriptions.
Oculus is getting some little troubles with its PC users
With its latest software update, Oculus has created a bit of a mess, with lots of people not being able to launch (or even install) the Oculus runtime. This has to be summed to the fact that many people owning a Rift S claim seeing some kind of white noise appearing on their visuals. Oculus is investigating all these PC-related issues and is releasing various fixes for these problems.
Mixed Reality software LIV is now out of early access
LIV, the company working on the Mixed Reality recording tool for games, has just announced a very interesting update for its framework that lets you record promotional videos of your game. Now you can easily shoot videos where you are represented not by your real body, but by the virtual avatar that you wish. And it works with and without Vive Trackers.
One of the most discussed themes in the VR communities nowadays is the Oculus Quest content curation. According to many people (like me), Oculus is right in preventing crappy apps to enter and clutter the Quest Store, but its content curation is being too strict and it’s preventing also good apps from being published (I’ve detailed all the situation in this separate post). But there is a solution to this: SideQuest.
SideQuest is a tool that let you install and uninstall unapproved apps on your Quest easily, and can be also be used to move your Oculus Go apps to your Quest. Started as a tool created to just make the job of developers easier, it has now evolved as a parallel distribution system for Oculus Quest apps. Even developers behind popular apps like VRidge or AltspaceVR are currently using SideQuest to let people enjoy their application even before having Facebook’s approval.
Video Tutorial: How to install and uninstall unapproved apps on Oculus Quest using SideQuest
I’ve heard you like video tutorials, so I prepared a Youtube video where I show you:
How to download and install SideQuest;
How to use it to install apps from online repositories;
How to use it to install apps (APKs) from your local hard drive;
How to use it to install on your Quest Oculus Go or Gear VR’s apps;
How to use it to uninstall applications;
How to launch the sideloaded apps.
Have a nice time watching it
How to install and uninstall unapproved apps on Oculus Quest using SideQuest - YouTube
Textual Tutorial: How to install and uninstall unapproved apps on Oculus Quest using SideQuest
For the nerds like me that still prefer textual tutorial, here you are some instructions in written form.
How to download and install SideQuest
SideQuest is an opensource project and can be downloaded from its GitHub page. You have to look at the latest releases page and pick the one that most suits you depending on your operating system (it can work on Windows, Linux, and Mac).
In Windows, once you have downloaded the executable, you have to launch it. It will be a self-extracting archive, so you have just to specify the location in the disk where you want to install it and then click Extract. After the unzipping takes place, open that directory and launch SideQuest.exe.
How to configure your Quest for sideloading
When you will open SideQuest, you will find an interface like this one
The typical UI of SideQuest. On the left side, you have the main menu of the app
The steps that you have to perform are:
Click on the “Setup” button in the bottom left corner of the application.
On the main panel of the app, you will see a set of instructions that will guide you in setting your Quest in developer mode and connect it to your PC. If your Quest is not in developer mode yet, follow the first 4 points step by step (if you want, I’ve already detailed the whole process in my post about how to get started with Oculus Quest development in Unity);
Make sure that your Quest is connected to your PC via a USB cable;
Follow the fifth point of the setup instructions and install on the Quest the SideQuest launcher app (and also the Expanse app, if you wish).
How to use it to install apps from online repositories
Look at the left side of the app: you will see some colored buttons with captions that say “NSFW”, “VR Apps” and “VR Games”. These are the three standard online repositories associated with SideQuest. An online repository is an online place in the cloud where someone has uploaded some applications that you can download and install on your Quest through SideQuest. Consider them as unofficial stores of Quest application.
If you click on the Repos button in the left toolbar, you can access the list of repositories associated with your installation of SideQuest. In this menu, you can add yours or remove some existing ones that you don’t like.
To me it happened that at startup, I couldn’t see the standard repositories associated with the app, so I had to add them manually. If you are in my same situation, here you are the link to the standard online repos:
Once you have configured the repositories as you wish, this is how you install an application from them:
Click on one of the repo buttons on the left toolbar (e.g. “VR Games”);
You will see the list of applications available in that repository;
Pick the one that you wish to install (e.g. “Tuscany”) and press the related “More” key;
You will see the detail page of the app. Click on “install” to install it and “uninstall” to uninstall it (if it is already installed).
Easy peasy, isn’t it?
UI of SideQuest, with highlighted the buttons to manage repos and install applications
How to use it to install apps (APKs) from your local hard drive
That’s even easier. If you have an APK and want to install it on your Quest, just drag and drop it from your File Explorer to your SideQuest window. It will be installed automatically!
How to use it to uninstall applications
With your Oculus Quest connected to your PC, hit the “Currently Installed Apps” button in the top bar of the SideQuest window. You will see the list of all the applications currently installed on the device.
For each entry, you will be have three buttons that will let you:
Backup the related APK on your PC (this will be useful in a while);
Clear all app data;
Uninstall the application.
If you hit the “Uninstall app” button, the magic will happen and you will be able to uninstall the application. This may seem something not that incredible, but actually uninstalling a sideloaded app may be a pain, and would require some technical skills using adb via command line… so the fact that you can just do that by pressing a button is amazing!
List of all apps installed on the device, with buttons to manage them. The arrow points at the button that has to be clicked to activate this view
How to use it to install on your Quest Oculus Go or Gear VR’s apps
Oculus doesn’t let you play your Oculus Go (or Gear VR)’s apps on your Quest, but many of them actually may work it. On Reddit there is a long list of verified apps that work this way (here the direct link to the Gdoc document containing the list).
All you need to do to play some Go game on your Quest is getting the APK of the application and then drag and drop it on SideQuest to install it on the Quest. But… how to get the APK of an Oculus Go app? There are two ways. The first one is…
I guess you got it.
The second one is extracting the APK of the game from your Oculus Go (or from the Go of some friends of yours). To do that, disconnect your Oculus Quest and then connect the Oculus Go to your PC (and then launch SideQuest if it wasn’t launched). Then:
Hit the “Currently Installed Apps” button in the top bar of SideQuest. This will show you the list of applications installed on the Go;
Search in the list the application that you want to port to the Quest;
Click the “Backup APK file” next to it. This will copy the APK from the Oculus Go to a special folder on your hard drive;
Click the Settings button in the top menu of SideQuest;
Locate the “Open APK Backup Folder” in the “SideQuest Stuff” section and click it;
You should see a File Manager window popping up, showing you the APK files that you have backed up from the devices;
Now that you have the APKs, you can connect the Quest and use SideQuest to install them using the method seen above (drag and drop).
How to extract an APK from your Oculus Go using SideQuest. This image shows you the buttons to press after you have backed up the ApKs to your hard drive (steps 4-5 of the aove list)
Notice that not all the apps extracted this way work. So I advise you to have a look at the document linked above to see which ones will run correctly and which ones will have troubles.
How to launch the sideloaded apps.
That’s incredibly simple. Put on your Oculus Quest, then select Library -> Unknown Sources. There you will find all the apps that you have sideloaded. Select them to play your games!
Before, I have also made you sideload a SideQuest Launcher. If you look in the Unknown Sources list, you will find an app called SideQuest. If you launch it, you will access the SideQuest launcher, that will let you see all the apps installed on your device in a more beautiful way (all sideloaded apps will have a name, an icon, etc…), see the features of your device and modify SideQuest settings. I have to say that honestly, the Launcher doesn’t work on my device and I have to reboot it if I launch an app through it. But if it works on your Quest, then it’s really a nice app to keep things organized
It’s lovely to run sideloaded apps… thanks to SideQuest, I have been able to run again the Tuscany Demo on my Oculus Quest… ah, so many memories of my Oculus DK 2 times and of all the tests for my previous full body VR startup made inside that demo…
I hope this tutorial has been useful for you all, and if it is the case, please like it, share it, subscribe to my newsletter, and feel free to ask me whatever question on my social media channels!
When you see a title of mine written in Chinese, you already know what is going to happen. Yes, I am returning again to China. Yes, new adventures await me. Yes, my stomach won’t be that happy, but I am a lot.
I will depart my lovely Italy on Saturday, to attend the Sandbox Immersive Festival (SIF) in Qingdao, China. The Sandbox Immersive Festival is one of the biggest AR/VR events in the whole Asia: it is a big exhibition dedicated to immersive storytelling content and will feature top-notch creations from Chinese and Western people.
This year the festival will take place from June, 24th to June, 27th. Its theme will be “Immersive City”:
This year, SIF takes “Immersive City” as the theme word. When looking through the lens of SIF 2019, the city becomes a screen upon which you can gaze and reflect. With a deep dive into the fabric of the “Immersive City”, various chords from the strings of streets emerge, some harmonic, some rhapsodic. For those who immerse themselves in SIF (known as SIFers) the city becomes a conduit between reality and virtuality. Present and the future collide and collapse, laying bare the raw emotion of the city. SIF 2019’s doors are open!
(I haven’t understood properly what it does mean, but I guess it’s a description for creatives only )
The SIF will showcase 44 immersive projects, including 6 large-scale installations, 21 interactive experiences, 9 films and 8 VR films in 8K. Some of them have already been shown in other famous festivals like Tribeca, others are completely new. Some names that have caught my attention have been:
The Collider (that has been highly appreciated at Tribeca)
Game of Thrones: The Dead Must Die (GOT experience on Magic Leap)
Buddy VR (winner of a prize at Venice Film Festival)
Doctor Who: The Runaway
Spheres (one of the first VR movies to be sold for millions of dollars)
I‘m incredibly excited, also because it will be the first festival all focused on immersive storytelling I will attend. And then it will be in Qingdao, that in my opinion has one of the most beautiful seasides I have ever visited in my life: it is both romantic and technological.
Then it will be the occasion to meet with some of my friends of the XR Story group in WeChat: Eloi, Joao, Gianluigi, and many others with which I discuss daily about VR! (BTW, if you want to join us, just let me know. It’s one of the best XR communities I am in)
I really want to thank the organizers Eddie Lou and Junhua Huang of Sandman Studios for having invited me as a media partner and for having helped me with travel and accommodation. They have been very kind and helpful, even if we had some hurdles in organizing everything.
And after that… I will head to Beijing because I want to meet a lot of other companies and people that are there! I’ve some big plans… but I don’t want to spoil anything for now.
Of course, I want to tell you everything about my adventures, exactly as I did when I went to Taipei. I want to make you feel as you were there with me. It’s just a pity that I can’t transmit the taste of Baozi through a blog post
If you will be in China, let me know. I hope to meet you all!
The past week has been the week of the E3, and we had an insane amount of news regarding new upcoming Virtual Reality content, especially for the Oculus Quest! For what games are you hyped? Let me know in the comments or on my social media account!
FYI, I’ve had my Adsense account suspended because of the 3 informative articles about XR porn that I wrote. I’m trying to solve this issue appealing to Google, but more than ever consider donating money on Patreon to sustain this blog, that takes me a lot of time and various expenses, to keep it alive. Thank you.
Top news of the week
(Image by E3)
At E3 there have been a lot of announcements for new VR games
Thanks to the popular VR magazine Upload VR, that has organized the E3 VR Showcase, Virtual Reality has had its glorious moment at E3 2019. It has not been something that has happened on the E3 stage, but virtually with a one-hour video stream, but it has been great the same. In the E3 VR Showcase, there have been made more than 30 announcements of games and new content. It has been awesome for all the VR community, even if I have to say that the drawback of making so many announcements in a so short time is that in the end, I had too much confusion about all the names and videos showcased there. Maybe I still remember only the most important 5–6 news and have a blurred image of the other ones. But I’m sure that next year it will be even better. Kudos to Upload for having organized this special moment for Virtual Reality fans at E3.
Let me do some highlights of the E3 in VR (mostly from the E3 VR Showcase, but also from other sources).
Beat Saber has announced a new DLC made only of songs from the popular band Imagine Dragons. But even more important, at E3 it has showcased a new 360 mode for the Oculus Quest. Since you can rotate all your body freely with Quest, you can slash cubes all around you. That’s very immersive and fun: from my experience in developing HitMotion: Reloaded on the Vive Focus Plus, I can tell you that moving your body all around your room is how standalone VR is meant to be played.
Falcon Age is coming to PC VR. But the most important news is that it will be exclusive to the new Epic Store. Have we VR enthusiast to download and use another store after Steam, Oculus Store, and Viveport?
According to Mashable, one of the best VR games of the whole E3 has been an indie title developed by some students called Ascend. Reading the review, I am not so sure if the journalist has a so deep experience on VR gaming, but I found his opinion interesting.
Other relevant news
(Image by HTC)
We’re going to have new info on the Vive Cosmos
Finally, HTC is ready to give us all the info on the Vive Cosmos. With a tweet, it has announced that in these weeks (starting from this one), it will start giving info on this new innovative device that can connect to the PC or to the smartphone. We will so know the availability and release date, for instance. For now we only know that the device will ship in Q3 and that devkits are starting to be available.
From the teaser picture, it is possible to see that the headset has had a redesign after the reveal at CES 2019 (the faceplate and the headphones have a different design).
I am very hyped by this headset since it features some intriguing characteristics, like a very high screen resolution, the possibility to tether it to a phone or a solution that is similar to Vive Trackers but that can work with inside-out tracking. The Cosmos can be what brings HTC to be successful again among developers and enthusiasts, after all the recent headsets that were always enterprise-oriented. This will probably be cheaper.
Oculus has made various statements about the Quest
The most important announcement has been the fact that in the first two weeks, the content sold on the Quest store has made more than 5 million dollars. This is for sure a very positive result for a new device with a new store. For sure the high quality of games has contributed to that. From the sales number, I imagine a number of sold devices around 100K, but that’s just speculation.
The “content curation” of the Quest store has created some outrage from the dev community (as I have reported in this article). And the recent request of Oculus of removing SteamVR streaming from Virtual Desktop has made the situation even worse, since it made really Oculus seem like an ultra-walled garden.
Jason Rubin has tried answering all these concerns, highlighting how they care about Quest quality and want to publish there only games with high quality and high profitability. Virtual Desktop feature was rejected because it wasn’t ultra polished (of course the streaming had a little lag). All the applications not being so great can be built for Rift, and then if a game proves successful on PC, it can be ported to Quest. I don’t like this idea, but at least I appreciate that he answered the community.
Rubin has also said that the Index looks for sure great and that the Knuckles are interesting, but he has no interest in developing a $1000 product that few people buy. Even Oculus with $2000 can blow people minds, he said, but it is not its purpose.
FRL is releasing interesting material for AI training
Facebook Reality Labs, the research center of Facebook, is releasing opensource some tools that it has created to train AI agents in virtual reality.
When you have to train an intelligent agent for the real world (e.g. a robot that can assist people at home), the best is always to do that in the real environment, with the real conditions, but it is, of course, a slow and expensive process. The best idea is to train the AI algorithm inside a VR virtual environment so that you can do all the tests that you want really fast and without breaking things. The only problem is: VR is very different from real reality.
That’s why FRL is releasing two tools to make this virtual training easier and more efficient: — AI Habitat, a set of modular tools to train efficiently AI agents in VR; — Replica, a set of virtual environments that are incredibly similar to real-life scenarios. These environments have also all the objects accurately labeled so that to help the training of the agent.
If you work in AI, CV or robotics sector, you had better check these resources out.
Is NVIDIA going to release Super RTX graphics cards?
There is a rumor about NVIDIA going to release a new series of RTX graphics cards dubbed “Super RTX” that will represent an improvement of the past-generation RTX graphics cards announced in 2018. The improvement shouldn’t be that massive as the one from GTX to RTX series, it should be only a refresh of the past generation.
According to some people, this announcement should take place on June, 21st… so stay tuned this week for a new episode of PC VR Master race!
News worth a mention
Researchers are already experimenting with 6G
We are all dreaming about the 5G and the potentialities that it has together with AR and VR, but actually, researchers are already working on 6G. 6G should even be able to stream brain data in real-time and this could be useful for those projects related to brain connection on which Elon Musk is working on. Very fascinating: someone has even told me on Linkedin that a mini-antenna for 6G has already been built.
Microsoft is working on addressing privacy concerns of the AR Cloud
The AR Cloud, that system that will allow all of us to have an interconnected and persistent mixed reality world is for sure fascinating, but it introduces a lot of privacy concerns, since it gives companies the access to all our private and public spaces. Microsoft has presented a paper on a way to record this kind of data so that it is impossible to reconstruct pictures of the original places from it.
Sony is working on the Playstation 5 and next gen PSVR. There are a lot of new patents by the Japanese company, and these are very interesting, because they talk about features that will be able to mix the virtual and the real, like an efficient passthrough that can let the wearer stay in the real world even with the PSVR headset on. (Thanks Mati for the tip!)
Kat Loco is a new system that has just been successfully funded on Kickstarterthat lets you walk in VR by walking in place. It works by adding little sensors on your body and your feet.
While it seems fun, from my previous experience at Immotionar, I can tell you that most people don’t want to wear sensors on their body every time they have to play and that walking in place is tiresome on the long run, so I don’t expect a mainstream success from this device.
Does Magic Leap want to create a big reality show?
According to a rumor, Magic Leap may want to create a service so that people may stream their lives while they use the MR headset. It could be like the ultimate reality show, where every person can stream him/herselves in every moment of his/her life.
I tried asking Abovitz if it is true, but I got no answer.
Dexta Robotics is launching Dexmo Enterprise glove
After a long silence, Dexta Robotics has returned to make some public announcements and has revealed Dexmo Enterprise, an enterprise glove featuring full force feedback. This means that you will be able to feel the force of elements that touch your hands and all your fingers. This can be incredibly interesting for some enterprise applications (e.g. training).
As always, I will detail the headset in all its features, and then I will draw my conclusions and tell you if it is the right device for you to buy. If you already know the headset very well, and just want to read my considerations, go straight to the final part of this article.
Oculus Quest: Under the Hood - YouTube
Let’s start with the specs set, so that you can keep them as a reference:
Platform: Snapdragon 835 VR reference design;
Display resolution: 1,600 × 1,440 per eye
Display type: OLED
Refresh-rate: 72 Hz
FOV: more or less like Rift CV 1 (circa 100° diagonal)
IPD Adjustment: hardware
RAM: 4 FB
Storage: 64 GB / 128 GB (depending on the version that you buy)
Tracking: inside-out with 4 cameras
Mixed Reality: the cameras allow for some kind of black and white passthrough
Audio: integrated speakers and microphone. 2 x 3.5mm audio jacks
Connectivity: USB, Wi-fi, bluetooth connection. USB should have OTG enabled.
The Quest has a nice packaging, as all Oculus products. You can watch me unboxing it in this Youtube video
Oculus Quest Unboxing - YouTube
I really love opening Oculus products, since usually they are packaged really well, and the Quest is no exception. Everything appears carefully studied to be pleasant for the user when he/she opens the box. The only little problem of the unboxing is that as soon as I opened the box, I could smell a strong smell of chemicals… but in some minutes, this bad sensation went away.
The box contains:
2 Touch controllres
1 Spacer to give more comfort to people wearing glasses
1 Power adapter
1 USB-C charging cable
2 AA Batteries
1 Quick start guide
1 Safety guide
Oculus Quest box content (Image by Oculus)
The headset is very elegant and quite light. It is made by rubber and fabric, with the black color giving it a very classy touch. The fabric makes sure that the headset looks a bit like a piece of cloth that you wear in your face. This was a bit the philosophy of Google Daydream View, that was the first headset employing this kind of materials. All has been studied so that you can feel wearing it on your face more natural. Anyway, we are still at gen 1 of standalone headsets, so the classical appearance problems of VR headsets (that appear bulky on the face of the user) have not been solved yet.
Front view of the Oculus Quest
The front of the device shows a plastic plate with the four tracking cameras at the four angles (actually the two lower ones are not exactly on the vertices, maybe to track better the hands when they are closer to the belly). On the top, at the center, there is a status led that becomes white when the four tracking cameras are activated. This way, you always know when Zuck is looking at you.
Left side of the device
The left side of the Quest shows one of the straps used to tighten it on the head, and under it a 3.5mm jack to attach your favorite headphones for improved audio immersion. There is also the button to turn on the device, with over it a status led that changes color and blinking mode depending on the status of the device: for instance, solid white means that the headset is up and running, blinking white means that it is bootstrapping, orange means that the battery is in charge and red that the battery has low power. If you are curious about all possible states, check out the official documentation.
Oculus Quest Right View
The right side is almost identical to the left side, with the only exception that there is not the turn-on button with the status led, but there is a USB-C port used to charge the device or connect it to your PC.
Top View of the Oculus Quest
From above, it is possible to appreciate the headstrap of the Quest. It seems a bit the one of the Oculus Rift CV1. It is a rubber band that goes all around the head of the user and that can be fit using three straps that are on the headset (at the two sides and on the top).
Bottom View of the headset
Below the device are clearly visible the hardware IPD adjustment slider and the volume adjustment buttons.
Back View of Focus Plus and Quest.
Seen from behind, the Quest shows the rear part of the rubber band, that is not the Vive logo anymore (like in the Rift CV1).
With two 1600×1440 OLED displays, the Oculus Quest is able to offer very nice visuals to the user. The colors of the OLED are crisp and the blacks are really solid blacks. The screen door effect is still present, even if it is much less than the one of the original Rift CV 1.
The display resolution is the same of other devices like the Vive Focus Plus, but the Quest really shines for what regards the lenses, that are next-gen ones and offer a good sweet spot. The god rays are much less than the ones of the Rift CV 1, but I can still see some soft circular glares in scenes with high contrast.
Zoom on the lenses of the Oculus Quest. It is clearly visible that they are much better than OG Vive’s Fresnel lenses, for instance
What I have really appreciated is that Oculus has made a great work to reduce the chromatic and spherical aberrations of lenses: thanks to some black magic that mixes high-quality lenses and things that are displayed on the screen, if you move your gaze away from the frontal direction, you see very little aberration. That means: you don’t see distortions, both in the color and the shape of elements on the screen. This doesn’t hold true for other headsets, so kudos to Oculus.
The visual system of the Quest is really good. There are anyway three problems that I want to highlight:
Currently there is some kind of ghosting in the images when you rotate your head. You can see a semi-transparent trail of the elements in the position of the previous frames, especially when there are high-contrast elements one next to the other. I think this will be fixed in a future software update;
Because of low computational power of mobile devices, the quality of the graphical elements shown in the various applications is far from realistic. Developers have to spare on lights and shaders and so in the applications, often the elements seem made of matte (more on this later on);
To spare computational resources, the system may exploit fixed foveated rendering (as suggested by the developer of the running application). This means that the system will render at full resolution the elements only in the central part of the vision and will degrade the rendering in the peripheral. In some demanding games, this degradation is highly visible if you look with your eyes in a region that is close to the edge of the lenses. You will see everything becoming “blocky”, and that for sure breaks the magic.
Look the blue ball: when it is close to the edge of the lens, it becomes highly pixelated
I admit I am not a huge fan of Oculus Quest comfort, both of the headset and the controllers. I am not telling that it is bad. But for sure, it could have been much better.
The headset is completely unbalanced: all the weight is on its front part. This creates pressure against your face, and you will often notice it at the end of long sessions, that will leave red signs all over your face. This is the reason why my Chinese assistant Miss S has even defined the Quest the 太不舒服 headset, that is “the most uncomfortable one” (I don’t agree with her, though). This may seem in contrast with most people saying that the Quest is comfortable, but actually, it is not.