OUR BLOG

06 Jun 2019

OUR TESTS WITH THE OCULUS QUEST

Jun 06, 2019

The new Oculus Quest arrived on our doorstep about a week ago. We’re just a little excited about it (OK… a lot excited), so we thought we’d share our first impressions with you.

This isn’t our first
VR Rodeo

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To give you a little background, our R&D team has been using and testing VR for a few years now. We had plenty of concerns around sacrificing the quality of our experience considering our testing has been on the PC-based HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

Our IT team even built a custom PC with a monster graphics processor and liquid cooling to run the HTC Vive a few years ago. We use it regularly for virtual model home walk-throughs with Architectural Services clients. It creates a very stable performance, but users are unfortunately restricted by some wires.

Last year, in an attempt to take our VR equipment wireless, we installed an Oculus Rift with three external sensors and an aftermarket wireless kit from TPCast. We recently used this setup for an all-day Beat Saber battle to celebrate May the 4th. It was epic, to say the least. We still had to see what all the hype was about with the Oculus Quest…

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Just by comparing the price of our previous VR equipment to the price of the Quest, it was hard to imagine the experience could be similar. The Quest sells now for $399 which is easily 25% of our current setup.

We’ve also tested the lower-powered, wireless Oculus GO. When we put on the Quest, the first thing we noticed was how light and comfortable it felt. It feels as light as the Go but is more comfortable and fits better over glasses. Since that’s a common sore spot for a lot of VR users, we were pleasantly surprised that our team members with glasses didn’t have any issues.

Here are a few other things we noticed right off the bat:

  1. The head strap adjusts easily and stretches comfortably over glasses and ponytails.
  2. Casting quality is very dependent on stable Wi-Fi signals between the device and headset.
  3. Speaking of casting, it was a bit of a struggle. Games like Beat Sabers didn’t even allow it.
  4. The battery life so far is pretty good for 1-2 players (in the 2–2.5 hour range).

THE GUARDIAN SYSTEM AN ACTUAL GAME CHANGER

Our R&D team took turns on the Unreal powered “First Steps” tutorial which starts with some impressive VR visuals that feel very cinematic. Digital fish and whales swim by before you’re dropped into a virtual testing room.

The first thing the device has you learn about is the Guardian system. This system is the most exciting new development that we tested. It’s just the sort of thing that we expect will make the difference for portability.

In two simple steps, this does what used to take us painstaking hours to set up with external sensors. After verifying the floor location and drawing the “safe zone” around you, a virtual fence will surround you and can even be seen if you get close to it.

If you get close enough to touch it, it turns red. Then you can actually lean through it  to open a virtual portal. This portal reveals your real-world surroundings in black and white so you can see what is happening around you without even taking the visor off. To prove how portable the system was, we took the headset to different spots in the office and quickly redrew the virtual fence. It was easy to do and allowed us to jump right back into testing.

GAMEPLAY

We didn’t notice a huge difference in gameplay compared to our other equipment. The hand tracking was great and we only found a few minor bugs such as over-sensitivity of the Guardian fence in Beat Sabers that would light up when your hands were still far enough away.

We ran through a few demos and loved the different UI approaches. Our favorites include the way you pump your arms to indicate walking in Creed and how you grab the shield by reaching back over your shoulder in Space Pirate Trainer.

EVERYBODY IS GOING TO WANT ONE OF THESE!

So far, the testing of our Oculus Quest has been really exciting. The portability of this device is exactly what is needed to get VR in more hands and really push it out of the labs and into the living rooms of regular people. At $400, it’s now in the same range as typical home gaming systems. Not to mention… it’s perfectly priced for Christmas when the last few bugs are worked out.

MediaLab Tests the Occulus Quest

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