But what can we expect from this important event? What will Oculus announce? Well, I love doing the predictions’ game, so let me tell you what I think we will hear from Oculus!
This is where the next chapter for AR and VR begins
“This is where the next chapter for AR and VR begins” is the only sure information that we have about the event. This sentence is written in the official Oculus Connect 6 website and it is the only official piece of info that we have. Here the key words are “next chapter” and “AR”.
Oculus considers the first chapter concluded with the Oculus Quest, the device that completes its first offering of VR devices: Oculus Rift, Oculus Go,
Or better… of XR DEVICES. The word “AR” changes everything since Oculus must now
Since there is the word AR in the mix, we actually don’t know what the second generation of Oculus devices will be: for sure it won’t be just Rift 2, Quest 2 and Go 2. And honestly, I’m not even sure that an AR glass by Facebook will have the Oculus branding…
Starting from this assumption, let’s see my (completely unreliable) predictions.
No new VR hardware announcement
Oculus has just launched the Rift S and the Quest, and the devices are performing fairly well on the market. The Quest is even hard to find, because the request is too high. So, I would find strange that Oculus puts a new device on sale, especially if it is a device that can compete with these two ones. It would be a crazy move.
Even announcing a new VR device with a close release date (like next F8) would be stupid, since because of the Osborne effect, people would stop buying current ones. Would you still buy the Oculus Quest if you knew that Oculus is going to release a Quest 2 in some months? Personally, not.
I have personally heard rumors of an improved version of Quest, but I don’t think Oculus will release it soon.
So, I expect no actual hardware announcements from this event.
… but I have some doubt about AR hardware
There’s only one exception to the above rule and it is augmented reality. We all know that Facebook is working a lot on augmented reality, and rumors already talk about AR glasses that looks like normal sunglasses inside Facebook R&D department.
In normal conditions, I would say that Facebook will still keep them secret until the price can be low enough and the usability high enough. But Facebook has a big problem and that big problem is called Apple.
In Cupertino, most probably there’s already a working prototype of AR glasses (dubbed
Facebook can play the match against Apple in two ways:
- Wait for Apple to release its glasses and create hype for AR, then release its own Android-compatible glasses. This would be a smart move because Facebook would let Apple create awareness and hype for AR and then it would enter
ina market that is already ready to buy its products. If it is the case, Fb will relaseits AR glasses in 2021;
- Beat Apple on time and try to get the headlines of the magazines itself. This would be smart as well, because Facebook could shape the market and conquer it before Apple even announces its device, so without having to compete with Apple offerings. If it is the case, the AR glasses are going to be announced now at OC6 and put on sale during the next F8, maybe together with
a serviceto link them to Instagram to automatically publish stories.
If we are in case 2, well, expect some huge suprises from this event.
A glimpse on 2nd generation of XR devices
Even if we won’t see any release of XR devices, I bet we will see the prototypes of what will be the future generation of XR hardware that Facebook is going to offer. If you remember well, Oculus has showcased the Quest years before its release, as a crappy prototype made with a hacked Rift, with its pieces kept together by duct tape. And now, we have the super-polished Quest. I expect something similar for OC6: duct-tape prototypes of VR and AR devices, that will show us what will be the second generation of XR headsets, with a probable release date of the first device in late 2020 or 2021.
What will these devices be? Unluckily I don’t know. Anyway, I think that we have to think about what is the goal of this 2nd generation of XR devices. The goal of the first one was arriving
IMHO the goal of this second generation is arriving in the next 2-3 years to a true consumer-oriented AR device. I mean something affordable, light, standalone, and with decent imagery (not a tiny window). To arrive there, there may be the need to test different technologies and form factors, that will shape the devices that we will see in the next years. At the same time, I think that Oculus won’t abandon completely the PC VR sector in this generation, but it will use it as a testbed for technologies that will be implemented in other devices. So, this may be what Oculus will make people try:
- Rift 2:
eye tracking, varifocal display, 140° FOV. I think that Oculus will make journalists try the Half Dome prototype, that in the meantime will have probably changed name. It will also feature new controllers. It will still be buggy, but people will finally see what secondgeneration of VR could be;
- MR Quest: Oculus may also showcase how
passthroughaugmented reality may be. I’m talking about a standalone device similar to Quest, but NOT Quest, that also features front RGB cameras to perform both AR and VR. This would also serve to fight Samsung, that is working on an AR/VR standalone headset;
- Smartphone-connected AR/MR glasses: thanks to the new Qualcomm Snapdragon reference design, is quite easy to design light AR headsets that connect to your phone, like
nReal. I think these glasses can be the “GearVR of AR”, a way to introduce people to AR, and that will be dismissed as soon as there is something better. They can have notifications from the phone, possibility of shooting photos and record videos and maybe simple spatial AR functionalities. If Facebook is going to release an AR headset, it will be of this kind;
- Standalone AR glasses: Oculus may showcase the future, with bulky AR glasses that in the next years will become little.
IMHO this is the second generation of XR devices by Oculus: a Rift 2 for prosumers, plus some hybrid MR devices to prepare the market for the future final consumer-oriented standalone 5G AR glass that is the purpose of this generation.
No Oculus Go 2
As you see, there is no place for Oculus Go in my list. In my opinion, it is going to die, also considering the rumor of Xiaomi having completely abandoned the project for the future. I think it
Software and games
With probably no hardware reveal on the horizon, this event may be all about software.
Finally, Oculus will let people try the AAA war game that is being developed by Respawn Entertainment, the company behind the ultra-popular game Apex Legends. I imagine this game being a Rift S game only, and being of incredibly high quality, that may be beaten only by the upcoming flagship game by Valve. 2 years have passed since when this title has been announced, so I think that we will see an experience that will redefine gaming in VR.
We will have finally an official release date for the open-world game Stormland. And maybe also for Lone Echo 2 and Asgard’s Wrath.
Of course, Oculus will also announce new games. An easy call is the Splinter Cell or Assassin’s Creed game that it is building together with Ubisoft. We all already know that it is happening, so it has no sense continuing keeping the secret.
We also hope to hear more about Minecraft for Quest, The Climb for Quest and the 360
I also envision some surprises. Since there will be a great focus on software, I expect some announcements we wouldn’t expect about new exciting VR content.
Accessories for Quest and Rift S
The fact that no hardware will be shipped opens also the door for new accessories available for Quest and Rift S. Oculus may announce for instance headphones to attach to the Rift S, to have a far better audio experience than the one that is now possible on the PC VR headset. It is possible that they will be similar to the Mantis Headphones, or even that Oculus has copied the solution presented by Valve in the Index.
I also see Oculus finally announcing a wireless accessory for the Rift S. I think the time has come… it is not possible that HTC is the only company offering something like that, and that is really loved by its custome
Personally, I don’t see Oculus announcing PC streaming to
I know that Carmack has told that they experimented with Wi-fi streaming to Quest and that it is a feature requested by many of us of the communities, but it would have some huge problems:
- Streaming quality. Every solution for Wi-fi streaming that I tried creates lags and artifacts and Oculus don’t want that. Furthermore, they require a very high-quality Wi-fi connection, something that not all users have;
- Rift S cannibalization. If the Quest can connect wirelessly to the PC, why should anyone still buy the Rift S? The Quest could work both as a standalone headset and a PC VR headset, completely wireless, with even better specs (screen resolution, OLED, IPD adjustment, etc…) and would cost the same. No one would buy the Rift S anymore. It would be a pretty stupid move;
- Cross-platform games cannibalization. What would be the sense of no-cross-buy games? I mean, if I have Creed on the PC, there would be no need for me to buy it on the Quest, so there would be
lesssales on Quest applications;
- Goodbye content curation. If now the Quest can be seen as
the high-qualityproduct with high-quality content, if you can use it to play crappy PC games, it may lose a bit of reputation.
For these reasons, I don’t see it coming. Unless it is made with a dedicated hardware (e.g. a super WiGig router) that can guarantee quality. And this hardware should be expensive, so that buying a Rift S would be cheaper than buying Quest + PC-connection-hardware.
You may reply to these thoughts saying that actually HTC already offers the PC streaming feature on the Vive Focus Plus, but you have to remember that HTC is a completely different company. First of all, it is focused on engineering innovation and not in offering cheap and polished consumer products. Then it has to face the problem of the low number of content on Viveport M, a problem that Oculus doesn’t have on Quest.
MR & hand tracking?
I see Oculus showcasing native hand tracking on PC, but still not releasing it. I also imagine it showcasing new mixed reality demos for Quest and Rift S, to show its new focus on AR and MR.
Personally, I don’t see full-hand-tracking and MR coming to Quest. Hand-tracking is too computational heavy, and in fact HTC itself doesn’t offer it on the Focus Plus (it only offers gesture tracking).
Furthermore, the positions of the cameras on the Quest is not ideal for AR (they are not close to the position of the eyes of the user), and this is clearly shown by the wrong scale on the passthrough vision of the Quest. I think that Oculus may show some MR demos on the Rift S, that have cameras in a better position and the computational power of PC… or also some
I think that if they want to surprise us this year, they may showcase a full optical solution for
A new operating system?
At OC5, Boz showed a video teasing a mixed reality environment for Oculus systems. A working environment in AR/VR/MR, where you can launch Oculus apps, go full VR or full AR. I think that at OC6 we will hear more about this, and maybe people will be able to test a very early prototype of it on the Rift S or the new AR/MR prototype by Oculus. This could be the prototype of the new Facebook operating system, for which the new Oculus Home 2.0 would be the foundation.
A new metaverse
A rumor I heard from various sources talks about Facebook accepting the failure of the Facebook Spaces environment and working on creating a new social virtual world, codenamed Metaverse. I think that OC6 or the next F8 could be the right moment to talk about it, also to finally offer a common social experience among all Oculus devices (and also Portal ones), something that doesn’t exist at the moment. It could be the foundation of how Facebook thinks defying distance. It could encompass both PC, AR
I also hope to hear about Oculus Rooms and Venues ported to all Oculus devices.
And I’m quite sure that we will have a new upgrade on the avatars offered by Oculus, that will exploit all the studies about realistic avatars that Facebook has performed in this labs (but no release of hyper-realistic avatars… it is too early!).
Business offering: LBVR Multiplayer SDK
Oculus for business is not doing bad, but I think people are not very much aware about it. From my experience as a consultant, I have noticed that many companies still think that the Quest for them costs $399, while
One of the features will probably be a complete solution to offer multiplayer arena-scale experiences in LBVR arcades using Oculus Quest. Do you remember the Dead and Buried demo from last year?
Well, according to Mixed.DE, Oculus is working on creating an SDK to let people create similar solutions… and John Carmack told during the Joe Rogan podcast that they are working in eventually commercializing it. So, I think that we will hear more about it, and that would be
Abrash and Carmack
We will have the usual amazing predictions by Michael Abrash and the unscripted talk by John Carmack. And I will just understand like 60% of what they will say.
I won’t be there
And you? What are your predictions on the Oculus Connect? Let me know them in the comments or answering me on my social media channels!
(Header image by Oculus)
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