Facebook’s Oculus Quest is a game-changer device that puts us back on track for Ready Player One experiences.
Of course, a full Spielberg’s Ready Player One experience is still in the far future. But now it’s easy to see the path forward, mostly because Oculus Quest has fixed the single biggest problem with VR: the five-minute fix.
And it’s fixed the second-biggest flaw as well: the tether.
The five-minute fix is simple to understand: when you have five minutes to kill, what device do you grab?
Right now, the smartphone is the default device. It’s easy, always at hand, and requires only your hands. Wake your phone, and a gaming or social experience spins up in less than 10 seconds.
VR has never been like this.
I own Playstation’s PSVR and I’ve tried the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. None of them fit the bill: they require plenty of space, plus multiple pieces of equipment, plus wires … and a time-consuming set-up. I also owned the Oculus Go, the cheaper and less capable product from Facebook, and while it was quick and easy to set up, it lacked a core feature that makes VR seem real: 6DOF, or six degrees of freedom (the ability to move in space left-right, up-down, and forward-back).
Today, I needed a break and had a few minutes to kill. In less than a minute I was up and running on Oculus Quest, playing a game and exploring a virtual universe.
That was without a tether. No PC required. No cords needed.
In my opinion the Oculus Quest is the first VR system that enables this at a reasonable cost and a reasonable (if not great) degree of visual quality.
That makes it a game-changer.
You can get premium VR experiences with the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, but you need to plug into a computer, and you’re going to be wired up. Each of those things not only reduces your mobility; they also increase the prep and start-up time.
You can get cheaper VR with the PSVR, but it also requires plugging in multiple components getting wired into the matrix, AKA your Playstation 4.
And that, to me, is fatal.
Steve Jobs said that the TV was the place you go to turn your brain off, while the PC was the place you went to turn it on. VR systems occupy some of the same space as TVs, in terms of being entertainment.
But up to now, it was far too much effort. The input-output equation is out of wack, which is why I never use my PSVR.
With the Oculus Quest, it’s a minute to start. It’s out of the box and onto my head. That makes VR not just possible but likely.
An analyst I spoke to who had inside information on product usage for the PSVR and other VR systems told me last year that product utilization stats were horrible: most people used them less than a week.
Oculus Quest has the opportunity to change that.