UPDATED: Which Social VR Platforms and Virtual Worlds Will Benefit from the Upcoming Standalone VR Headset Oculus Quest?

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As many of you already know, Oculus is releasing a new, standalone VR headset, the Oculus Quest, sometime this coming spring, 2019. Priced at just US$399, it is sure to be a popular option for people who are interested in VR, but who don’t want to purchase a more expensive VR headset solution like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

The Oculus Rift is meant to fill the space in the Oculus product line-up between their entry-level, lower-powered standalone VR headset, the Oculus Go, and the Oculus Rift, a VR headset with Touch controllers which requires a high-end Windows gaming-level PC with a good graphics card to run. (Unfortunately, there is, as yet, no satisfactory native virtual reality hardware solution for Apple Mac users, although there are native Mac desktop clients for virtual worlds such as High Fidelity and Sinespace.)

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If the Oculus Quest becomes very popular, those social VR platforms which can run on the Quest hardware may gain an advantage over those which require a full-blown VR headset and a higher-end computer.

I think it’s safe to assume that Facebook/Oculus properties such as Facebook Spaces and Oculus Rooms (or at least some version of them) will be available for the Oculus Quest on its launch date. Social VR platforms with simpler avatars and spaces, which already run on the Oculus Go (like AltspaceVR, Bigscreen, and vTime) will probably also be available for the Quest.

Surprisingly, Rec Room, TheWaveVR, and VRChat are not among the social VR programs that are currently available for the Oculus Go ( I searched for them on the Oculus Go apps store and could not find any mention of them.) It remains to be seen if the companies behind those three products will release versions which will run on the more powerful Oculus Quest.

In a discussion thread over on the official High Fidelity user forums, HiFi CEO Philip Rosedale stated back in October:

We are definitely going to get High Fidelity running on as many standalone devices as we can, and we love the Quest. VR will not find a large audience until the Quest and other devices (like the Mirage and Vive Focus) become widely available.

Talking to Oculus about the process now… stay tuned.

When asked for to provide a more recent update, Philip added:

Yes, we are working on the Quest, and hope to have High Fidelity ready to run on it for launch! Very high quality device.

I also don’t know what Sinespace’s exact plans are for the Oculus Quest, but Adan Frisby, their lead developer, said on a Facebook comment when I cross-posted this blogpost over there:

We’ll be fine with it too – anyone doing Android support will have an easier time of it.

So it looks like High Fidelity and Sinespace will indeed both be working with the Oculus Quest, if not right at launch date, then shortly thereafter. This gives them both an advantage over Linden Lab’s Sansar, which very likely will not be able to work with the Quest. There’s still a lot of data that has to get sent to and from a VR headset to properly render Sansar experiences (especially for any experience which has global illumination enabled), which would probably completely overload any standalone headset.

As I often say: interesting times ahead! Let’s hope that the Oculus Quest makes a big splash and brings even more people into VR. A rising tide lifts all boats, and many social VR platforms would benefit from greater consumer awareness and uptake of virtual reality in general. And I promise to cover all of it as it happens on this blog!

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

UPDATE Dec. 14th: Adeon Writer posted the following to the VirtualVerse Discord server (VirtualVerse is the successor to the long-running SLUniverse forums):

VRChat was just announced for the Oculus Store. While it already worked with Oculus on Steam, [the] OculusSDK version of VRChat means it will almost certainly be ported to Oculus Quest when it comes out, making it the first metaverse-style game available for wireless/unteathered/portable VR.

Thanks, Adeon!

UPDATE Feb. 11th: Since this blogpost was written, I have had someone tell me the following about VRChat:

Sadly, I don’t think VRChat’s gonna support Quest. It’s just not compatible with mobile CPUs. Hell, it brings modern up-to-date PC’s to a standstill with too many people. I very much doubt the Snapdragon 835 can handle all the custom shaders, avatars, IK, etc. The team would basically need to do a full rewrite. And that’s unlikely unless the team was way bigger.

It does sound as though VRChat would have to be pared down significantly in order to run on the Oculus Quest, if at all.

I also noticed that I have received a lot of traffic to this blogpost due to this post on the OculusQuest subReddit (which I had never heard of before today). If anybody over there has any inside information on social VR/virtual worlds that will launch with the Quest, I’d certainly love to hear about it! Thanks.

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A Look at the Latest Gadgets in Virtual Reality

There is no shortage of new innovations to make virtual reality even more immersive. The following six-minute video compiled by Real Spirit Dynamics gives us a glimpse of some of the new VR technology that is currently in development:

Among the projects profiled is a VR chair by a company called MMOne which turns on three different axes:

I wonder how much this little gadget is going to cost when it is commercially released? This potentially vomit-inducing chair is obviously intended more for serious education (flight training schools, etc.) and for high-end gaming arcades than for personal use in your own home (unless you’re a millionaire with a thirst for bleeding-edge VR).

(A big thank-you to Bruce Thomson for alerting me to the first video via Facebook!)

The Killer App for Virtual Reality is the Metaverse

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Anna Bashmakova and Oculus Rift (photo by Sergey Galyonkin on FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0)

Loup Ventures is a research-driven venture capital firm based in Minneapolis and New York investing in frontier technology. They just wrote an article on Medium titled Is VR Dead or Just Getting Started?

Here’s a quote:

VR’s Killer App, the Metaverse

Everyone is searching for the killer app for VR, the application or experience that will be a system seller like Wii Sports for the Wii or VisiCalc for the Apple II. VR’s killer app, we believe, is already in development and should be ready for mainstream adoption in the next five years.

The Metaverse, a term coined in the 1992 sci-fi classic, Snow Crash, is a virtual universe similar in many ways to reality. Players can be anyone, do anything, or go anywhere, regardless of their real life circumstances. The Metaverse will be a place where all of what VR has to offer branches off from. A place where you can socialize, do business, shop, go on outerworld adventures, watch esports tournaments, and more. The limits lie in the imagination of users and developers who will compete for prime real estate in the Metaverse. We will take an in-depth look into the potential of the Metaverse in a future note, but for now, just picture The Oasis from Ready Player One.

High Fidelity raised $35 million in June, with the goal of bringing VR to a billion people through their new VR world. Linden Labs, maker of the popular online role-playing game, Second Life, is also working on bringing a Metaverse to the mainstream with Project Sansar. It remains to be seen who will become the real-life Gregarious Games, but one thing is certain — the Metaverse will play a critical role in the future of VR.

And I do agree with this. VR’s “killer app” will be the metaverse. Sansar and High Fidelity are just two of dozens of platforms which are in various early stages of development, and which could potentially transform the way we use computers and communicate with each other. It’s a major paradigm shift, similar to the one where we moved away from command-line MS-DOS and towards using a mouse with graphical user interfaces like Windows and the Mac.

One day (just not as quickly as the most enthusiastic forecasters predicted), we will all be in a form of virtual reality/augmented reality/mixed reality, both for work and personal use. It’s just going to take time, maybe another decade. In the meantime, enjoy the ride!

Can VR Make Us More Human? A Chat with Peter Rubin and Philip Rosedale

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This evening, I attended a talk in High Fidelity between Philip Rosedale (the CEO of High Fidelity and the founder of Second Life) and Peter Rubin, a Senior Editor at WIRED who has recently written a book about VR titled Future Presence: How Virtual Reality Is Changing Human Connection, Intimacy, and the Limits of Ordinary Life

The premise of the talk (from the event description) was:

Many argue that mobile smartphones and social media have made us less connected to our fellow human beings. VR has the potential to course-correct the isolating nature of much of today’s technology and the opportunity to make us more connected and even more human.

Here’s a livestream of the hour-long talk, which I thoroughly enjoyed (and I even got an opportunity to ask a question at the end!). If you missed the event, I would encourage you to watch this wide-ranging and fascinating discussion about virtual reality and the various social VR platforms, held within High Fidelity.