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3 June 2019

Oculus Quest PC-free headset runs on Qualcomm’s Mobile VR platform

A month after Oculus began phasing out its flagship Rift headsets, the Facebook-owned virtual reality outfit has unveiled the company’s first ‘all-in-one’ headset, the Oculus Quest, powered by the Qualcomm Mobile VR Platform, which runs on the Snapdragon 835 system-on-chip.

Despite being marketed as a headset for the VR gaming market, the Oculus Quest offers an environment ideal for over-the-top video services – enabled by some clever developments on both the Qualcomm and Oculus sides.

By all-in-one VR, Oculus really means PC-less, dropping the need for a high end gaming PC. For $399, users get two touch controllers with a 64GB 6DOF (6 degrees of freedom) headset, and they will need the Oculus app on iPhone or Android to complete set up.

Clearly Qualcomm and Oculus have worked a tight ship together. Building on its existing Snapdragon 835 feature set, Qualcomm says Quest taps into a chip architecture capable of powering the high concurrency workloads required, including graphics processing, video decoding and encoding. Oculus, meanwhile, is responsible for the tracking element, with Quest headsets using its inside-out sensor tracking powered by the Oculus Insight computer vision algorithm.

Insight’s intelligent algorithms combined with four ultra-wide angle sensors enable the controllers to translate movements into VR with high accuracy and low latency.

Additional smart features include foveated rendering, a technique for reducing the graphics rendering workload by significantly lowering the quality of graphics in the peripheral vision, achieved through the use of an eye tracker within the headset. A neat new feature. The Qualcomm AI Engine was made available on the 835 and other Snapdragon models last year but this doesn’t appear to be necessary here.

While Oculus Quest is being marketed mainly as a gaming headset, the standalone device supports Netflix, Sling TV and Fox Now, among others, although a notable absentee is HBO. One crucial difference from the Oculus Go is no support for Oculus Rooms, which allows multiuser viewing of videos from Facebook and other platforms.

“We worked closely with the Oculus engineering team to build upon the Snapdragon 835 feature set and optimize the platform to help deliver a unique, rich immersive gaming experience,” said Hugo Swart, head of XR at Qualcomm Technologies. “The joint efforts between Oculus and Qualcomm Technologies deliver a completely wire-free, intuitive VR experience for consumers that has the potential to enrich lives and propel mass VR adoption.”