Friday, 14 Aug 2020

Facebook Developing More Comfortable Quest With Higher Refresh Rate

Facebook is developing a smaller, lighter version of Oculus Quest with a higher refresh rate, according to a new report from Bloomberg.

Bloomberg reported the existence and price of Oculus Go months before it was announced by Facebook, giving credence to the outlet having sources within Facebook’s VR division.

The report claims the new headset was originally intended to launch late this year, but the global pandemic may delay this to 2021. Whether this is the same ‘Del Mar’ headset leaked in March is currently unclear.

Featured image on this post is the current Oculus Quest.

Smaller, Lighter, More Comfortable

The most common complaint we see when someone tries an Oculus Quest is the discomfort caused by the front heaviness. Unlike PC VR headsets, Quest has the computing hardware and battery built into it.

The current Quest weighs around 1.25 lbs (571g). The report claims the new headset could be 20% lighter at 1 lbs (around 450g), as well as being physically 15% smaller.

At Oculus Connect 6, Facebook’s chief VR researcher showed off new lenses that achieved a 20% wider field of view than Quest despite being physically smaller. Some kind of breakthrough like this could be the source of the weight reduction. Alternatively, it could just be mundane incremental improvements in materials and design.

Higher Refresh Rate

The current Oculus Quest uses OLED panels with a refresh rate of 72 Hz, lower than the PC VR standard of 90 Hz.

A higher refresh rate in VR makes the world feel more solid and object motion look more real.

According to Bloomberg, Facebook is testing screens up to 120 Hz for this new headset, but may cap it to 90Hz for battery life reasons.

Rendering that higher refresh rate would almost certainly require a more powerful system-on-chip (SoC). The current Quest uses the Snapdragon 835, which was Qualcomm’s flagship in 2017. Three years later, chips with roughly twice the computing power are available. The report doesn’t say anything about a new chip, however.

New Touch Controllers

According to the report, Facebook is also working on new Touch controllers. This could be the ‘Jedi’ controllers found in the Oculus Quest firmware.

We analyzed the driver for the Jedi controllers and found that it keeps the same input scheme, but may improve tracking, haptics and the fidelity of finger sensing.

According to Bloomberg’s sources, the new Touch controllers will be compatible with the existing Oculus Quest, enabling users to upgrade.

The report also claims these controllers fix a design flaw of the current Touch, where the battery cover can slide off during play.

Cheaper Materials, New Strap

The current Oculus Quest features a fabric covering giving it a somewhat premium feel. However, this is probably somewhat expensive to manufacture at scale.

According to Bloomberg, Facebook is testing removing this fabric and replacing it with plastic. This is likely for cost control reasons.

The report also claims Facebook is considering changing the side straps from velcro to an elastic system. That sounds like how the Valve Index strap works, but there’s not enough detail yet to say for sure.

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