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Oculus Quest as the front-runner: How we got here.

Zenbane
Level 16

It has been a long journey from the DK and CV1 days up to the current time where Quest 2 is the flagship HMD heading up VR’s mainstream adoption. Over the years there has been a lot of analysis about:

  • What does it take to make VR mainstream?
  • What type of experience qualifies as VR?
  • What can be defined as an “immersive” experience?
  • Wtf does VR even mean?
    • Does 360 Media count too? 
    • Is it VR if its 3DoF or just 6DoF?
    • Does VR require hand-controllers to be considered VR?
    • Is it VR if it’s sitting vs standing?
    • Can we even call it "VR" if you don’t have max settings with max refresh rate with max resolution and max pixel density?

 

Everything from mobile to console to PC has been argued and analyzed every which way possible (and some debates even venture in to the realm of “not possible”). This discussion is definitely NONE of that.

 

What I’m most interested in is trying to understand the true (emphasis on “true”) journey that specifically led to the state we’re in today where Stand-Alone/Hybrid VR is leading the charge, and becoming the go-to HMD for mainstream audiences of both MobileVR and PCVR.

 

Note that determining which experience is better is completely off-topic.

 

The way I see it…

 

In the beginning, the primary goal for VR was to speed up adoption.

 

So let’s analyze “adoption.” We know that everyone has some type of computer in their home today. Whether it be a Desktop, Laptop, Smart Phone, Smart Tablet, or even some form of A.I. like Google Home and Alexa. While these are not computers themselves, they are gateways to computers as they talk to APIs which run on computer systems.

 

However, looking at the history of computer-in-the-home adoption, it took many long years. First computers entered the military and government. Then corporations. Then our schools. Then our homes.

All this spanning a timeline measured in decades.

 

Clearly, the goal for VR was to achieve the same thing (have a VR headset in billions of homes across the globe); only the achievement needed to happen much, much sooner than the adoption of the computer-in-the-home.

 

But how could that be done? It seems to me that VR began by relying on that “gotcha” experience. Putting on a VR HMD for the first time is clearly a mind-blowing moment. And it is in that moment that the “gotcha” happens; where clearly the Industry was hoping there would be enough “gotchas” to make everyone run out to buy a Rift or a Vive (as these were the first consumer releases on the market).

 

But that didn’t happen. We’ve also seen attempts at this “gotcha” moment with using VR HMD’s at Theme Parks and Arcades. While fun, they also didn’t have the effect of causing people to run out to purchase a headset by the hundreds of millions.

 

The question is… why? Thanks to the advantage of hindsight, I firmly believe that the reason is due to VR being utilized in these more child-like ways. Apologies if that comes across negative. I love gaming and theme parks, but I am also honest with myself by admitting that those are things I relish due to my “inner child.” Going back to the history of mass computer-in-the-home adoption: It was certainly NOT “child-like” things that caused it. We weren’t using computers at work and school solely for childish purposes. There was productivity and life enhancing value coming from computers. Thus a need, and a market, was created for the home computer as a means to “enhance the quality of life.”

 

And that’s the key, I believe: VR will get those billions of users when it can actually improve one’s quality of life.

 

Which brings us to the current state: Oculus Quest. The more childish aspects of VR are still present, but they are not the long-term goal. Facebook is focusing on both Social and Workplace experiences. Facebook is trying (they aren’t there yet) to demonstrate how VR can enhance Social experiences in ways that are revolutionary; and they are trying to have breakthroughs in VR at the Workplace to change how industry and teams operate.

 

So if (this is a big “if”) Facebook is successful in showing that using VR for Social Experiences and Workplace innovation truly does improve the overall quality of life… then we’ve hit the real target. This is what puts us on the proper path to get VR in hundreds of millions, even billions, of homes.

 

Quest 2 is the flagship VR HMD not just for Oculus and Facebook, but for the VR Industry as a whole, because it is best suited to achieve exactly that. The “hybrid” approach gives it the flexibility to go between gaming/entertainment and social/worklife productivity.

 

This feels like one of those moments where everything happened in reverse. We launched with powerful PCVR HMDs that were ready to play great VR video games, but we should have waited until there was a market for that; by waiting until hundreds of millions of homes had a VR HMD. If we had launched with the Quest first and later evolved into a Rift, then - in all likelihood - this post would be about a plethora of PCVR AAA titles that are so vast in number that I’d never be able to play them all in one lifetime.

 

Similar to how beastly pc gaming rigs came long after Windows 3.1 was already in people’s homes.

 

In hindsight, it does make sense to have something like the Quest being the flagship HMD. Relying on a “wow factor” and “gotcha” moment has never been good enough to launch any industry into global status. It is always about necessity and quality of life. And finally, after 6 years of mainstream VR, we seem to be on the correct course.

 

Or maybe I'm wrong. There's always that! 

 

Happy immersing, folks!

45 REPLIES 45

Thanks for that observation @PITTCANNA 
I have been using a slightly different analogy for some investors:

First there was the arcade video games
Then came the really bad Home B/W home dot consoles
Then came the next iteration of video arcade
Then came the 16-bit consoles
Then game the 3D Engine video arcade games
Then came the PS and Xbox
.....at which point the arcade scene went into hibernation, while the new LBE's opened like Dave & Busters and Main Event and the market fragmented....

Then came the Sony HMZ and the DK1
Then came VR arcades and VR amusement platforms
Then came the HTC VIVE and CV1
Then came more VR arcades and VR LBE (VOID, etc.,)
The came Go, Rift-S, Quest and Index
And the VR arcade and VR LBE kept going....

The real difference is that with the early period of Video arcade, ATARI, SEGA and even Nintendo made the video arcade machines and also made the consoles.

With the early part of VR arcades HTC did invest in VR Arcades (VIVEPORT Arcade), but the others that could have benefited from supporting this launch pad for content and hardware recognition, but felt they could do that through their community without the need for BnM. 

After the Lockdown however, HP, HTC and even Pico and Pimax are all looking at supporting VR LBE to help get the word out about their consumer systems, reverting to the previous approach to market adoption. 

https://vrawards.aixr.org/ "The Out-of-Home Immersive Entertainment Frontier: Expanding Interactive Boundaries in Leisure Facilities" https://www.amazon.co.uk/Out-Home-Immersive-Entertainment-Frontier/dp/1472426959

My take is arcades are dead after the lockdown, its a failed market and with hot bed zones being shut down or being asked to operate in a different fashion, how many willing participants will put something like an HMD on there face even with all the safety precautions.

 

The physical market is crap right now.  Scalpers buy the available stock within minutes after a restock.

 

Not too many physical demos in a shop these days.  The vive index is sold out on there website with no restock date announced.

 

This year will be a very challenging year to replenish stocked items to pre pandemic levels.  

Pixie40
Level 9

Not that stocks were all that plentiful before the pandemic hit either.

Lo, a quest! I seek the threads of my future in the seeds of the past.


@Nekto2 wrote:

Fully agree!

But could you write down a list of real life needs which will be improved?

Both dependent on VR and not dependent (but possible to accomplish with VR device).

Could you write down a list of same real life needs for smartphone, pad, laptop and stationary computer? Which of them is easy to transfer to VR device?

 


 

Appreciate the great feedback, Nekto. There's quite a bit to unpack from all the posts! I'll read through the thread in its entirety soon and try to address anything sent my way.

 

So Nekto, you have two lists that you'd like me to provide.  For the second list, how Tech has improved our quality of life, I'm going to cheat and use an Internet Search lol

https://www.healthtechzone.com/topics/healthcare/articles/2021/02/19/448068-5-ways-technology-has-im...

 

Everything from how we communicate to how society itself can advance has been improved. For example, Space Technology is going faster because any user at home with a computer is able to connect to NASA's systems and become part of their super-computer network. Our ability to have a web of computers scattered across the globe sharing processing power allows us to advance through scientific research studies, tests, etc, at amazing rates. 

 

I participated in this very thing during the pandemic, by allowing my computer to be utilized to run covid tests.

 

We could probably talk for years about all the different ways technology has improved the quality of life, but I want to try to keep the scope small, just for the sake of time and readability.

 

From the reference I provided above, lets start with: Communication.

 

  • Life began where long-term communication began by carving language in to stone. This was for long-term recording, but didn't solve for "long distance" communication.
  • We then moved on to where long-distance communication involved a human running a long distance. Carrying a message with them. The Spartan way of hiding this message on their belt, and only allowing it to be read using the stick they carried is particular interesting (Scytale).
  • Next up, we have long-distant messaging via horse or bird.
  • Going further, we went even longer thanks to boats and trains.
  • We eventually invented Morse Code and Telegraph to achieve long-distance communication more "instantly."
  • With Instant long term communication made possible, we moved on to the Telephone.
  • In comes the Smart Phone era, and the age where communication itself changed. 

 

In that loose timeline of Communication history, we can see two specific instances where the "nature" of communication changed. We went from the "written word" to "voice." It is easier and faster to talk to someone than to write it out. So going from carrying written messages to the Telephone is a huge achievement. The use of Smart Phones as a "telephone" doesn't alter that much at all. However, it did introduce a new "nature" for communicating. We went back to a form of "written word." 

 

Nowadays, we prefer to send a Text Message than to call someone. But we aren't exactly typing the same way we speak. Instead, we use shorthand terms (lol, wtf, omg) and Emoji's 😊

 

We've reverted back to the Hieroglyphic days where we use shorthand symbolism; only now we have combined it with long-distant instant communication. In this way, writing things become faster than speaking them.

 

 

Yet are we truly "instantaneous" with our communication? I'd say, no. It still takes awhile for my thoughts to go down on a Smart Phone, sent through a computer network, over to your Smart Phone, and read by your eyes. There is still room for more instantaneous communication over a long-distance.

 

We can speed up that process further through the use of photons, but it still leaves room for improvement.

 

The final barrier would need to allow my thoughts to enter your head the moment I want to send them. Now that's fk'in telepathy and borders on sci-fi. However, I think virtual reality can in fact get us there. If you and I are across the globe while existing in the same virtual space, we can use Virtual Reality technology to communicate in ways nothing else can achieve:

  • Hands, Head, Eyes, and Voice are all "events" that can trigger anything we want.
  • We can use any of these in combination, simultaneously, to create multiple forms of instant-communication.

For example, I can talk to you while using my eyes to pull in an Information Asset while using my hands to manipulate our entire environment, while using my head to direct you towards the information I'm trying to convey. All at the same time.

 

VR technology allows us to implement multiple forms of communication simultaneously and instantaneously. More importantly, it allows us to do this while using and manipulating our surrounding environment. This is the closest we can ever get to telepathy (at least until Brain-to-Computer interfaces are fully functional).

 

This allows for solving problems faster, achieving breakthroughs faster, etc.

 

The faster we can communicate, the more we can achieve in our short human lifespan. If VR can get us closer to telepathic communication, then the quality of life improves as noted by having us spend less time trying to convey messages and more time making productive choices stemming from those  messages.

 

As a good can-o-worms to open: Virtual Reality allows for improved health and fitness capabilities.

 

With VR, our brains do not register "fatigue" the same. You can spend more time in VR doing Cardio than you can outside of VR, because your brain is immersed in the VR environment thus triggers the fatigue taking place "outside VR" much slower. The more cardio, the healthier your heart, lungs, and liver. This prolongs a human's lifespan, which by itself is an improvement upon the quality of life.

 

So if we combine these two:

  • Improved quality of life through instantaneous multi-method communication.
  • Improved quality of life by prolonging our lifespan due to health and fitness breakthroughs.

Then the overall quality of life being improved is rather immense. VR can help us live longer while also shortening the communication time needed to make life decisions.

 

If we add another can-o-worms by factoring in VR's ability help speed up the "learning process," thus allowing us to use all this time saving and prolonged life benefits to learn things even faster...??

 

We can essentially conclude that in the perfect VR world, a human today would live the equivalent of a 200-300 year lifespan (based on all we can achieve in our actual lifespan) compared to humans of the past.

Shadowmask72
Level 16

What are the current Quest1/2 numbers right now in terms of estimated sales and specifically in comparison to PSVR? I think the greatest boon for the Quest over its peers (even the aforementioned Gear VR model) is the standalone device, and its quality which will no doubt improve over time. I think that factors the most regardless of the use cases. 



System Specs: ASUS NVIDIA RTX 3090 TUF GAMING OC 24GB , i9 9900K CPU, 16 GB DDR 4 RAM, Win 10 64 Bit OS.


@Zenbane wrote:

As a good can-o-worms to open: Virtual Reality allows for improved health and fitness capabilities.

 

With VR, our brains do not register "fatigue" the same. You can spend more time in VR doing Cardio than you can outside of VR, because your brain is immersed in the VR environment thus triggers the fatigue taking place "outside VR" much slower. The more cardio, the healthier your heart, lungs, and liver. This prolongs a human's lifespan, which by itself is an improvement upon the quality of life.

 

So if we combine these two:

  • Improved quality of life through instantaneous multi-method communication.
  • Improved quality of life by prolonging our lifespan due to health and fitness breakthroughs.

Then the overall quality of life being improved is rather immense. VR can help us live longer while also shortening the communication time needed to make life decisions.


I've kind of experienced this myself. Doing laps around my apartment building for 15 minutes completely wipes me out. And i can't get through even a 10 minute aerobic workout normally due to being so badly out of shape. But put me in VR and I can easily do 15-30 minutes of nonstop Beat Saber, which is a rather good workout on it's own.  Then after just a couple minutes I can go back for another 15-30 minutes. A few times I've gotten so into the zone that I've played Beat Saber for an hour, then dove into Creed for another hour, followed by playing a fantasy VRMMO as a melee class for another hour or two.

 

Granted, after I do that I often find myself in so much pain the next day I can barely move.

Lo, a quest! I seek the threads of my future in the seeds of the past.

Shadowmask72
Level 16

The other thing I wanted to mention having spoken to various developers is that Quest popularity makes development more viable compared to say just PCVR. I assume Q2 developers are happy that they can work with a system that has only one set of specs unlike PCVR where they cater to many configurations. These factors drive more "software" which invariably aid in shifting units. So it's a win win. 



System Specs: ASUS NVIDIA RTX 3090 TUF GAMING OC 24GB , i9 9900K CPU, 16 GB DDR 4 RAM, Win 10 64 Bit OS.

Quick addendum to my reply,

 

I stated that using our mind to send messages is more sci-fi... but apparently NOT! lol

 

In recent news, good 'ol Musk is already solving for this. There are multiple articles about a new video released showing a monkey who can play games with his brain.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsCul1sp4hQ


@Shadowmask72 wrote:

What are the current Quest1/2 numbers right now in terms of estimated sales and specifically in comparison to PSVR? 


 

I think most numbers are still estimates. It's based on what each company decides to release, or second-hand information. Neither of which is fully reliable. Based on user activity though, it's clear that Quest is certainly hitting those "millions." I would say that Quest has surpassed PSVR in sales, but that is only because PSVR has sort of fallen off the radar for Sony. They aren't emphasizing much software around it, nor advertising it very strongly. Plus it is old and there's still zero confirmation of a PSVR2.

 

Quest 2 is making huge waves around the world, and the activity across the Facebook Groups is quite high. Pandemic like has likely contributed to Quest sales as well, both in terms of affordability and convenience.

Shadowmask72
Level 16

Zenbane you must be well out of the Sony loop. They have publicly stated PSVR 2 is happening, is in development for perhaps 2022, shown the controllers and sent out dev kits.  That said, seeing as so few can actually get a PS5 then the PSVR 2 will be very niche to begin with. 

 

https://forums.oculusvr.com/t5/General/Sony-Reveals-New-Playstation-VR-2-Controllers/td-p/856088/

 

https://blog.playstation.com/2021/03/18/next-gen-vr-on-ps5-the-new-controller/



System Specs: ASUS NVIDIA RTX 3090 TUF GAMING OC 24GB , i9 9900K CPU, 16 GB DDR 4 RAM, Win 10 64 Bit OS.