SAN JOSE, California—Facebook used its latest virtual reality conference, the fifth annual Oculus Connect, to finally confirm retail plans for its most ambitious standalone VR product yet: the Oculus Quest. Originally known by its prototype name, Oculus Santa Cruz, the Quest will ship in spring 2019 for $399.
In terms of the sales pitch, this is the Oculus holy grail: a wireless, hand-tracked, “six degrees of freedom” VR system with apparently legitimate 3D power and no required PC or phone.
“It needs to be standalone,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced about the future of all Oculus products to come, as an indicator of the “ideal form factor” for VR. “Hand presence” and “six degrees of freedom” were required as well. This new headset ticks all three of Zuckerberg’s boxes.
That $399 price includes two new handheld controllers that largely resemble 2016’s Oculus Touch product. Zuckerberg promises more than 50 games for the Quest when it launches next year, and, when describing that upcoming lineup, he mentioned popular VR fare like , , and .
Oculus Quest will be natively compatible with Oculus Rift software on the PC, but Zuckerberg talked about getting more popular VR games onto the Quest in the future. Oculus has confirmed that the screens will sport 1600×1440 resolution per eye—identical to Oculus Go, and superior to Oculus Rift—and that the $399 model will include 64GB on-board storage. All Oculus Quest models will include built-in speakers, as well (much like Oculus Go). We’re still waiting to hear the headset’s exact specs, including processing power and memory.
Journey from Cruz to Quest
Based on our hands-on impressions of the prototype headset over the past year, we already know what the retail package won’t include: exterior sensors (like the Oculus Rift’s required webcams), a bundle of cables, or a required external computer. Oculus Quest is a “standalone” VR headset, which means its computing power and sensors come built into the headset.
In May 2018, Oculus launched a similar-sounding standalone headset, the Oculus Go. But that headset came with a “three degrees of freedom” (3DOF) limitation, so its games and apps only work when keeping your body still (your head can rotate, but you have to stand still or sit). Conversely, Oculus Quest uses four built-in sensors to track your nearby environment—and thus enable accurate VR experiences while moving in all directions.
The new Oculus Quest controllers largely resemble 2016’s Oculus Touch (and are even called “Touch controllers”), complete with joysticks, menu buttons, a pair of trigger buttons for each hand, and an AB/XY array. The biggest difference is a newly designed plastic “halo” attachment around the hand. It’s currently unclear whether the controller will retain the finger-tracking perk found in Oculus Touch. Still, these controllers are far beyond what you’ll find in Oculus Go, which ships with a single, Wii-like remote.
The controllers’ halo may tie into an important element in the Oculus Quest ecosystem: an RGB sensor, which may be used to translate controller location in virtual space. The Quest’s RGB sensor will double as a webcam that headset users can toggle to see their real-life surroundings. This was confirmed by a brief demo of a grayscale world, as seen through an Oculus representative using the headset in their own living room.
We’ll being going hands-on with Oculus Quest later today. Keep it tuned to Ars Technica for impressions (and, hopefully, some firmer tech specs).
Oculus’ announcement follows HTC’s Vive Wireless Adapter, which we recently tested in a home environment ahead of a wider “late October” retail launch for $300. This adds wireless, full-room capabilities to a standard HTC Vive and Vive Pro system, and it worked quite well in our testing—but that product assumes ownership of a room-tracked VR kit a fully fledged gaming PC, which means the total sticker price is pretty high.