Facebook’s Oculus Quest help virtual reality become a reality

Oculus Quest

When Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the stage at the fifth edition of Oculus Connect developer conference in San Jose, California, earlier this week to launch the Oculus Quest, one could hear loud cheers from the crowd. Zuckerberg called the Oculus Quest, a $399 (Rs 28,933) standalone wireless virtual reality headset. It is a big leap in the virtual reality space that has yet to catch on with mainstream consumers.

Six Degree Virtual Reality Experience

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. “This is the all-in-one VR experience that we have been waiting for. It’s wireless, it’s got hand presence, six degrees of freedom and runs Rift-quality experiences.” For Facebook, and Zuckerberg personally, the Quest is a big deal. It is a headset that could potentially convince developers to take VR seriously. But the question is if Quest will finally get consumers also interested in virtual reality.

VR Adoption is Slower

There are great VR devices available in the market, like PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift. But despite the heavy investments by Facebook, Google, HTC, Microsoft, Samsung and Sony, just a handful of people have actually bought VR headsets.

At the Oculus Connect developer conference, Zuckerberg admitted that VR adoption has been slower than estimated. The company hopes to have 1 billion people using virtual reality, but Zuckerberg did acknowledge that Facebook may not have even reached 1 percent of that goal. That means not even 10 million people are using Oculus devices. In fact, the slow adoption of virtual reality headsets is evident from the latest IDC report which said worldwide shipments of VR headsets were down 33.7 percent year-over-year in second-quarter 2018.

Oculus Quest tries to solve some of VR’s big issues

“Oculus Quest is helping to address a number of hardware challenges, including high prices, PC tethering, and tracking beacons”, Bryan Ma, an analyst with IDC.

The current generation VR headsets suffer from many issues. The technology can cause motion sickness.  Cost of owning a VR headset is high and one does have to invest in a high-end PC to get the best possible experience. Oculus Quest, formerly known by the code-name “Santa Cruz”, tries to address three big issues that could instigate the adoption of virtual reality headsets in the near future.

Unlike PlayStation VR or Vive Pro, the Quest does not require a dedicated PC or console to provide graphics. It’s a standalone, wireless virtual reality headset featuring a display resolution of 1600×1440 per eye, two hand controllers, four wide-angle cameras, 360-degree audio, and in-built sensors that enable “six degrees of freedom.” The Quest also promises to offer full positional tracking which decreases the chances of motion sickness.

Oculus quest is available at 399$

the biggest highlight about the Quest is its price: $399. That’s the same price as Oculus’ current Rift bundle and almost $400 less than the Vivo Pro, which requires a high-end PC to offer superior graphics.

“With a 6 DoF HMD with two hand controllers all in one piece without a need for a PC or the trouble of a tether coming at $400 is definitely something, not just enthusiasts are kicked about,” says Jignesh Talasila, CEO of Loop Reality, a Hyderabad-based Virtual Reality startup

Still early days in India

There’s enough evidence to suggest that VR has a long way to go to penetrate in India. Currently, India’s Virtual Reality headset shipments are relatively small at less than 50k units/year excluding Google Cardboard and low-end plastic viewers. (but including devices like Samsung Gear VR, which has some basic sensors, etc).

This means the market size is so small that it is not feasible for the Facebook-owned Oculus to bring its virtual reality headsets to India.

“India is still lacking the consumer adoption of high-end devices,” admits Pranshul. While VR from an enterprise standpoint continues to grow, Pranshul adds that the major problem customers have been facing is portability and unavailability of high-end gaming systems in their workplace.

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