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Review: Oculus Quest 2

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The last 18 months have been an exciting time for the virtual reality (VR) industry, with one headset above all dominating; Facebook’s Oculus Quest. The standalone headset promised what all VR enthusiasts had been wanting for years, full wireless freedom, no cables or the hassle of external sensors to worry about. Well, the time has come to improve upon that design with the Oculus Quest 2, a lighter, more powerful headset which aims to cement Facebook at the top of the VR mountain.

First Impressions

Oculus Quest 2 instantly wins points for the fact that it further reduces the cost of entry into VR, with the 64GB model coming in at £299 GBP/$299 USD, £100 cheaper than the original. And for those who want more storage, the 256GB version is £399/$399, still not a bad price for full-blown 6 degrees-of-freedom (6DoF) VR.

What’s nice to see is the move away from the monolithic black plastic block to a far more eye-catching two-tone, black and white design. This gives the Oculus Quest 2 a refreshing aesthetic, inviting and dare I say it trendier look to help appeal to a mainstream audience, not just the die-hard VR fans. The quality can be seen throughout, from the box presentation to the build of the headset and controllers, Oculus Quest 2 feels like the premium product it should be.

The Headset

Oculus Quest 2 has seen a major overhaul both inside and out, yet all the improvements are merely enhancements over the original rather than trying to do something new or groundbreaking, much like the Oculus Rift S did. At its heart is the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 platform, actually designed for XR hardware rather than the original Quest’s Snapdragon 835 processor found in smartphones.

Whilst this is already being put to good use with developers rolling out enhancements for previously released videogames, much like consoles I expect the best is yet to come. Further leveraging Oculus Quest 2’s potential, titles will become richer, more expansive experiences, especially as the standalone headset will become Facebook’s only VR device after the Oculus Rift S is discontinued in 2021.

Weight

What you get for your money is a smaller, lighter VR headset, in turn feeling comfier as there’s less weight on your face, dropping down from 571g to 503g. It is still front heavy but that reduction is enough so that longer gameplay sessions don’t feel as gruelling on your face. In turn that meant it was enjoyable delving into big titles that offered grand adventures, the only cut off being the battery life. Likewise, when it came to really active titles such as Beat Saber, not having all that weight bobbing up and down made getting into the rhythm far less of a challenge.

This weight saving isn’t purely on the front as Oculus Quest 2 now features a soft strap than a rigid one. The overhead velcro strap is still there but gone are the side adjustments in favour of a system at the rear. Personal preference whether this is an improvement, I found the new design comfortable and easy to adjust, plus it makes the headset far more portable and simple to stow away. The only real concern with the soft strap and the off-white colour is that of cleanliness. The past few weeks with the device haven’t made it that dirty but over time I’d imagine this is going to get grubby.

When it comes to battery life not much has changed. The battery spec hasn’t been released but just like the original Oculus Quest 2 will give you between 2-3 hours, completely dependent on whether you’re watching videos of playing games. Mostly, I got just over 2 hours playing videogames before having to recharge.

Visuals

Alongside the Snapdragon XR2, on of Oculus Quest 2’s major features is its new display, providing what Facebook calls an ‘almost 4K display’. That comes from a fast-switch LCD providing a resolution of 1832×1920 per eye as well as 50% more pixels to reduce the dreaded screen door effect. This improvement is instantly noticeable, completely removing the screen door effect whilst crisping up videogame graphics on both enhanced and standard Quest titles. The visual quality hasn’t just been improved by the display, as the Fresnel lenses do also appear to have been tweaked to aid clarity – although god rays do appear, usually in higher contrast loading screens.

Like any LCD display, however, it can’t compete with the black levels of the Oculus Quest’s OLED panel. Not great for dark horror videogames, the trade-off ensures a comfortable experience with less digital effects from constantly moving your head.   

One feature which has always been a hot topic in VR is interpupillary distance (IPD). On the original Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest this adjustment was manual, so you could easily fine tune the setting. Oculus Rift S went digital – to great uproar – whilst the Oculus Quest 2 has gone for an entirely different method. The IPD is physically adjustable between three settings 58, 63 and 68mm. With a numbered indicator between the lenses you have to grab and move them which is a little weird due to a bit of force being required. This also stops you seeing the image as you make the adjustment, having to take the headset off each time. It’s an unusual compromise seeing as though the first system worked really well.

Facebook has said these three settings should cover the majority of users. Having an IPD of about 67mm the widest setting did suffice but there’s likely going to be some which don’t fit into this bracket.

Audio

And then there’s the audio. Oculus Quest 2 still uses the piping system down the strap arms to provide spatial sound which works much the same as the original. There’s certainly an improvement at the lower end, from gun fire to bass in music, the drivers do pack a bit more wallop. You’re still best off using headphones if you can to truly immerse yourself in an experience, with the headset now only sporting one 3.5mm headphone jack on the left-hand side rather than two.

The Controllers

Just as important as viewing a virtual world is how you interact with it. Oculus Quest 2 may have hand tracking yet for most titles the Oculus Touch controllers are the main input source. Just like the headset, these have seen a notable redesign, in fact, harking back to the Oculus Rift CV1 controllers.

They’re bigger than before with a more substantial grip as well as offering a circular faceplate which has a nicer resting area for the thumb – great if you’ve got larger hands. This has given Facebook more room to improve the haptics which are more powerful. It is a shame that the cross-hatching has been removed, with smooth plastic in its place. The absence is most noticeable in really active videogames, having to hold the controllers that little bit tighter. On the flip side, the battery cover no longer uses magnets so it does stay firmly closed – an annoying flaw on the previous version.

Most impressive though is the battery life. Facebook has said the single AA should last 4x as long, and so far that seems to be right. After several weeks of use, the battery indicator had only dropped to 90% with the pre-supplied battery.

The Content

With an all-new home to start from you’ve got Oculus Quest’s ever-growing library of videogames and apps to enjoy, with plenty of classics to enjoy.

Studios are utilising both the launch and the hardware to offer new and improved VR experiences. Titles like Red Matter, Arizona Sunshine and Phantom: Covert Ops have all been updated to enhance their visuals, from texture details to particle effects. When it comes to new content the Oculus platform is getting The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, Rez Infinite, Little Witch Academia: VR Broom Racing and more on day one.

In the following weeks and months Population: One, The Climb 2Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s EdgeMyst, Jurassic World Aftermath and Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister are all due for release. So there’s plenty still to come.

What’s missing is content to really test the hand tracking feature. It’s mostly used in Oculus home and other first-party apps. Only a few titles like The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets and Tsuro: The Game of the Path actually use it to any degree.

And let’s not forget about Oculus Link, hooking the Oculus Quest 2 up to a PC to play content from platforms such as SteamVR. Opening up a whole new world of content, the feature is still in beta and generally works ok. It does need to be improved with the onset of Oculus Rift S’ discontinuation. You’ll also need to buy a long USB-C cable as the one supplied isn’t long enough to support the feature.

Facebook Login

Let’s address this controversial issue. All new customers to the Oculus platform or those upgrading to Oculus Quest 2 will now have to use their Facebook account to log in. Oculus accounts are no longer being offered, although if you do already have one then the merging process can be delayed until 1st January 2023.

Designed to provide one social ecosystem, if you love VR but have resisted social media then this is where it gets tricky. Buy an Oculus Quest 2 and you have no choice in setting up a Facebook account as the two are now intertwined. It’s long been expected and now unavoidable.

Because of this VR users have to adhere to Facebook’s policies when it comes to community conduct. Fall foul of these and at worse your account will be suspended, in turn, stopping you from playing all that VR content you’ve bought, hence the big furore. Now, this is unlikely to affect many owners but the fact remains it’s still there, putting off those who were keen on the platform before.   

Verdict

So does all of this add up to a more capable machine? It most certainly does. Oculus Quest 2 offers a better experience in every way, and for a cheaper price! Possibly not enough for current Oculus Quest owners to jump on an upgrade unless you’re really keen but certainly even more tempting for new arrivals or those coming from alternate hardware.

Just be aware that there’s no expandable storage so while the 64GB is more than enough now, games are expected to get bigger. There are also all the accessories to consider such as the Elite Strap. VRFocus didn’t have these for review but the Elite Strap with Battery pack which supposedly doubles gameplay duration will likely be tempting for VR enthusiasts and we’ll review that as soon as possible.

The login issue is now here to stay so if it bothers you then a SteamVR headset is a good bet. Otherwise, if you have a Facebook account and want a good wireless VR headset, then you can’t go wrong with Oculus Quest 2.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/10/review-oculus-quest-2/

AR/VR

A Wake Inn Pulls Those Trailer Strings Ahead of a 2021 Release

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There were plenty of virtual reality (VR) titles announced during the week that would normally have been the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), VR Bros’ A Wake Inn being one of them. An immersive horror experience originally slated for this year, the team has just released a new trailer moving the launch to early 2021.

A Wake Inn is a scary title featuring a classic horror staple, mannequins, those lifeless, dead-eyed entities which work so well at terrifying almost everyone. The twist here is that not only is the art deco hotel where the gameplay is set filled with an army of living dolls, you also happen to be one. And then there’s the mysterious Doctor Finnegan, owner of the estate who talks to you via a shortwave transmitter.

The story revolves around you finding out who you are, how you ended up here, and how to get out whilst avoiding the other not so friendly dolls. As VR Bros puts it: “Is it time for the player to take revenge on their maker and set themselves free, or perhaps they’re just a puppet being pulled by its strings?”

In a similar fashion to Last Labyrinth, you’re bound to a wheelchair, making A Wake Inn an entirely seated experience. That’s where the similarity ends, as in this experience you’re given free rein to explore the hotel and figure out its various escape room-style gameplay elements. You operate it just as you would any manual wheelchair, moving the controllers as if pushing the wheels.

Further thought has been put into the gameplay interactions as well, a flashlight for lighting up the darkness which does run out of batteries, a radio with custom stations, and the cinema room where you can watch tapes found around the building.

A Wake Inn will support HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Valve Index when it launches next year. For further updates on this wheeled horror, keep reading VRFocus.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/a-wake-inn-pulls-those-trailer-strings-ahead-of-a-2021-release/

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Working Up a Sweat With FitXR’s Dance Workouts

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The UK is nearing the end of its second lockdown and even with that coming to an end plenty of restrictions will still be in place. With the winter weather kicking in and gyms closed if you want to stay healthy at home VR offers an entertaining solution. So VRFocus picked up its Oculus Quest and tried out one of the latest ways to get yourself moving, FitXR’s dance workouts.

FitXR (formerly BoxVR) previously only offered boxing style workouts, hitting pads with jabs, hooks and uppercuts in time to music. The title then diversified this month by adding dance workouts, helping to not only emulate a more traditional fitness class but also add a less stringent gameplay mode.

Selecting between beginner and intermediate classes you’ve got a central fitness instructor to follow who’ll tell you the next move and you simply replicate, easy. There were a number of different workout times depending on how energetic you’re feeling but for the gameplay video below VRFocus kept things nice and easy with a brief 3-minute session.

None of the moves were too complicated but they did get the whole body moving – rather than just the upper body – with the speed stepping up a notch toward the end. Even if the stock, pre-recorded phrases from the trainer occasionally repeat it’s nice hearing them, aiding that motivation on the longer sets. Plus, thanks to FitXR’s multiplayer functionality, you’re joined by others for more of a group workout.

For a bit of added competition if you get the moves spot on then you’ll be awarded points which tally on a live scoreboard behind the trainer. Having a quick glance and seeing where your position is helps to give a little kick, especially if you’re competitive.

The dance-inspired workouts are available on Oculus Quest and Quest 2 as part of the main videogame. For further gameplay videos keep watching VRFocus.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/working-up-a-sweat-with-fitxrs-dance-workouts/

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Best VR Engines for Enterprise applications

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Virtual reality (VR) is a simple term that refers to and describes a variety of technologies associated with immersion into a simulated 3D environment. It can be considered primarily as the point where human-computer interaction, computer graphics, computer visions and 3D sensing meet.

Once virtual reality engines were associated with gaming only, but now it has gained momentum in all industries. VR in the enterprise and consumer sector has taken the world of tech by storm. It has transformed from a figment of science fiction imagination into a billion-dollar business. According to expert estimations, the virtual reality (VR) market is forecast to reach 18.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, representing a 78% increase in spending from last year.

Virtual reality app development has become a highly competitive space, with several companies offering excellent VR engines for businesses and other large enterprises. With so many VR options available in the market, it is easy for company executives to get confused about the best ones that suit their business. We will look at some of the best VR engines for enterprise applications.

Top VR engines to consider

Amazon Sumerian

The Amazon Sumerian is the virtual reality engine developed by AWS. When using this VR engine, you don’t need 3D graphics or VR programming skills. The engine works with the popular VR platforms, including Oculus Go, HTC Vive Pro, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Google Daydream, and Lenovo Mirage. The Amazon Sumerian engine also works well with Android and iOS mobile devices.

The good thing about this VR engine is that it has numerous enterprise applications. You can use it for cases such as employee education, training simulation, retail & sales, virtual concierge, and field services productivity,

Some of the powerful features of Amazon Sumerian include;

·         Sumerian editor;

·         Sumerian hosts;

·         Asset management;

·         Capability to script the logic in any scene you create.

Amazon Sumerian offers several learning resources that make it easy for you to use the VR engine. The resources have valuable information for virtual reality developers.

Maya

Maya is one of the most widely used VR enterprise applications. The R software development tool from Autodesk is used for various purposes including D animations, motion graphics, and VFX software.

It is currently one of the most powerful VR engines as it is used for various functions such as dynamics, 3D rendering, effects, 3D animation, 3D shading, 3D modelling, motion graphics, pipeline integration, and more.

Unity

Unity is a popular VR engine as it allows you to develop solutions for various sectors. With Unity, you can create VR solutions for sectors like automotive, transportation, manufacturing, media & entertainment, engineering, construction.

The tool comes with numerous perks for developers such as;

  • Artist and designer tools;
  • A powerful editor for creating Unity 3D VR assets;
  • CAD tools; and 
  • Collaboration tools.

Google VR for everyone

Google VR is the engine developed by the search engine giant, Google. The development tool allows you to create an immersive VR experience for your company. The tool and other VR engines are available on the Google VR developer portal.

The Google VR engine can be used to develop VR tools on numerous platforms such as Android, iOS, Unity, Unreal, and web. Google has software development kits (SDKs) for the various VR platforms it supports and can be accessed easily.

The Google VR offers numerous perks, which include;

  • Low cost
  • Easy to set up and use for developing VR apps
  • Various VR platforms available, making it easier for developers to choose.

Final thoughts

Using VR for your business can open up a whole new market for you. The VR engines discussed in this post are some of the best for enterprise applications. They allow virtual reality app development for different purposes and on multiple platforms.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/best-vr-engines-for-enterprise-applications/

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Full VR Support Rolling out December for Microsoft Flight Simulator

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It was great news when Asobo Studio revealed back in July that the new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator would feature virtual reality (VR) support, but slightly surprising that the HP Reverb G2 would be the only compatible device to begin with. If you’ve been awaiting further news then wait no longer, the studio has confirmed full support is coming for PC VR headsets next month.

The Microsoft Flight Simulator team held a live developer Q&A yesterday via Twitch where Martial Bossard, Executive Producer at Asobo Studio confirmed the incoming update. “We are going to open the VR for everyone,” he said. “It will also be open to all devices, the Oculus family, Valve family, every family of headset is supported there.”

Head of Microsoft Flight Simulator Jorg Neumann followed that up by saying: “The feedback has been so positive [from the closed beta] that we think we’re ready to put this out before the holiday season.” The VR addition will be part of Sim Update 2 which is dated for 22nd December and will be free.

Further details regarding VR implementation will be revealed during a Feature Discovery Series published on 17th December. As Bossard mentions in the Q&A its not just the main simulator itself which will be VR compatible but also all the menus – alpha players had to remove their headset to navigate these areas.

As the roadmap indicates, Asobo Studio has plenty in store recently releasing a World Update for the US with a World Update for the UK coming in January.

Third-party creator community stats have been released showing that 214 airports have been created so far, with another 48 announced and an additional 118 are in production. 9 aircraft have so far been released another 56 are coming whilst another 20 are on the cards.

Microsoft Flight Simulator gives players the entire world to explore with real-time weather and traffic systems. For further updates on VR compatibility, keep reading VRFocus.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/full-vr-support-rolling-out-december-for-microsoft-flight-simulator/

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