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

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!


"So I guess, in those cases I'm being a hypocrite and a villain.


I think that at some point I just accept the immortal aspects of life, and dabble in taking advantage of them from time-to-time. Life's all about balance, right? lol"


That is correct...Skeletor. 

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

Level 9

I think the reason Quest 2s are so readily available is because scalpers decided VR headsets aren't a big enough money maker. Which is, to be honest, probably a very good thing for the growth of Virtual Reality adoption as a whole. I mean, five months in and very few people other then scalpers actually have a PS5 or Xbox Series X. Or even a Series S, for that matter. Meanwhile Facebook is advertising the Quest 2 pretty **bleep** well. I've seen the ads. And if I wasn't already an enthusiast, they would definitely make me interested. And the $299/$399 price point for entry is pretty good. Especially since you don't need a beefy high end gaming rig to run VR with a Quest. If you have one, then you have even more access to VR content. But you don't need one.


Various people keep harping on how PCVR is the holy grail and how it's not 'true' virtual reality unless you're at the bleeding edge. But that was always going to be a niche market. And it's an extremely small niche market if you're trying to initially establish the industry. Not to mention the fact that early VR apps weren't exactly deep. Even the developers of Surgeon Simulator felt they need to make it available outside of VR to reach a wide enough audience.


But stand alone VR at an affordable price point? That's something that's far easier for the average consumer to justify the expense of. Even if it's only ever used for social apps like VR Chat and watching movies via Netflix and Amazon Prime, one can still feel they got their money's worth. And if the other demos prove to be fun? It's easy to get sucked further and further into the VR scene. Escape room type games are much more immersive when you're actually picking things up instead of clicking with a mouse. Rhythm games have been big since the 90's (at least), although the over saturation of Rock Band and Guitar Hero did their absolute best to kill the genre. And then Beat Saber came along and made something incredible out of a tired and over played genre. There's a reason it's become such a phenomenon.


So no, it doesn't surprise me that the Quest 2 has such a large presence in the market compared to other companies. For one thing Valve, HTC, Pimax, and the others don't exactly advertise to the masses. They are working on the idea that if you are a high end PCVR enthusiast, you're going to already know about their product and seek them out. And if you don't know about their product, then clearly you're not interested in VR anyway so why bother advertising?

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

Level 16

In one of my earlier replies, I mentioned that VR gives us the advantage of simultaneous stimulation of multiple senses (sight, sound, touch) in ways that go beyond what is possible in the real world.


A recent article was released about encountering and understanding Spider Webs using this very technique. Scientists began exploring the 3D nature of spider webs, and were able to assign "sounds/tones" to the structures. Just the musical translation alone is amazing. But they went further by creating a VR Experience that combines all of this in to sight, sound, and touch manipulation.

Spider's Canvas allowed audiences to hear the spider music, but the virtual reality, in which users can enter and play strands of the web themselves, adds a whole new layer of experience, the researchers said.

"The virtual reality environment is really intriguing because your ears are going to pick up structural features that you might see but not immediately recognize"


Awesome sound translation:


VR experience:

> Improved quality of life by prolonging our lifespan due to health and fitness breakthroughs.


Great point!

Adding visual/sound interest to fitness helps a lot!


> Improved quality of life through instantaneous multi-method communication.

And this topic has a little more to talk and analyze. 🙂


Ok it is true that now we have rich methods of communications. But are we using them?

You have mentioned Emoji as a great way to express your thought and as an example of rich communication, but .... you have used only 1 smile in you comment 😉


> We've reverted back to the Hieroglyphic days where we use shorthand symbolism...

But we have a powerful way of symbol language. That is Mathematics! You could use it to express precise and complex thoughts. But.... have you ever see any advert of VR communications with any math displayed? 🙂

Have you seen architects discussing design of a building in VR? But are there any math formulas shown? Same for cars design advert. That is strange and I think it shows some weak point of VR and rich communications. Better to fix it before it is too late 🙂


One more is "url". You have used it to point to a list of improvements. And that is also an example of rich communications. You need not copy all that page into reply.


And... with all that richness we have, still we are talking at a text-based web forum! Not in VR. How do you think why it is?


> 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).


Sounds like a great startup!

If you do it, I could test it. 🙂

Have not seen any real soft with all function you have described.


So... there is some point to mention. The speed of communication is not limited with tools only. It is limited with speed of our thought.  We need time to think about our arguments. And that is not possible at real-time  communication, I think.

Also we need to agree about correct and same meaning of the words/emoji/symbols/gestures (head,hand,eyes). Actually we need to select common languages or subset before we start fast and rich communication. Which of smiles will we use (and know about their meaning the same: like "👁️‍🗨" ?!) Will we use math and other scientific languages? etc.


Back for forum and text based communications.

Why are you using it? Could you think of it and try to find some useful points?

You could post a video-reply (with text captions) as a richer communication. Even you could deep-fake to replace you body and face with Zenbane avatar 🙂 saving all face mimics and gestures! But... you use text.


I think text based forum has some tricks we can't use freely in other based communications. That is "quotes" and "searches" (may be more).

It is easy to make a  quote and write a reply to the precise point you will comment.

With video you could make a cut of opponent video and provide own comment.

But you have no tools to do the same with VR rich online communications.

Ok, you could make a 2D video record for VR conference, but that is not the same.

We have no external file format for VR stream. So we could save it for offline, edit it, make a quote and provide a reply same as with text or even video. That blocks VR communication from real world use. But it is still a great way of online-real-time communication.


Also you could split text and video information in certain blocks: post/comment/paragraph/slide, video/chapter .... There are no analogs for VR communication yet. 😞


> In recent news, good 'ol Musk is already solving for this. 

Great link! 🙂

I think it will be the future. Still a little afraid that we will lose some tools in process of converting to brain only communications. Will we exchange Speed for richness of languages?

In addition...

There is a "size" factor.

I have seen post that Zoom chats and VR chats are not the same to our brain.

Even if you see face expression and hands gestures.

I think the greatest difference is a "size" of a person's face on screen or in VR.

You could try to chat in 2D with someone on small phone/laptop screen and compare it to Big screen (any virtual screen in VR with size more then 1-2 virtual meters).

In VR you could create an avatar with precise real-world size of a head and body. And it will greatly improve communication independent of richness of the symbols used. Our brain will consider it as "important" information if speaker size is like real.

Level 9

When you stop to think about it, each year we get one step closer to the classic "full dive" VR experience seen in various anime, movies, and books. And we're getting there without any invasive surgery to implant a jack into our heads or cumbersome full body suits. With hand tracking you can already see that future approaching. Sure, it's an under used capability right now. But it's there, and it works.


The problem with hand tracking, as I see it, is that movement within an app when using hand tracking is... problematic. That's due to the fact you aren't holding the controllers, thus there's no convenient thumb stick to move with. It's also only the hands that are being tracked. Which is fair. There are omni-directional treadmills for walking in VR without moving around your play space. But such set-ups are expensive, and not supported by most consumer VR apps. But imagine when something like that becomes affordable and widely supported. Inside Out tracking is already (potentially) on par with lighthouse tracking. Not that other companies seem able to do it as well as Facebook. And people already are capable of doing full body tracking, although it's expensive to get such a set-up going and requires lighthouses to work.


We're still a long ways away from Star Trek style holodecks. But I can see VR managing to achieve something similar in the next decade without requiring a large room dedicated solely to the experience. Granted, having a room dedicated to being your VR play space is handy.

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