The Top 5 Announcements from Facebook's Oculus Connect 6
Facebook's Oculus Connect 6 event was packed full of exciting announcements for both VR developers and users alike. A raft of new features, products, and services are on their way – some over the coming days and others early next year. Here are the top five things we learned from Facebook’s VR event.
Hand tracking is coming to Oculus Quest in early 2020
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’ announcement that hand tracking will launch on Quest early next year has been grabbing all the headlines. This is huge news for both new and prospective Quest users and could be a stepping stone to what comes next. With no controllers, buttons, straps, or external sensors, hand tracking will let Quest users ‘see’ their own hands in VR while enjoying a full range of motion. For existing VR users who are familiar with touch controllers, hand tracking will take the VR experience to a whole new level.
To achieve this, Facebook’s hand tracking team have developed state-of-the-art methods of applying deep learning to understand the location and pose of your hands using just the onboard Quest cameras. The Quest can accurately infer where your hands are and what they’re doing using model-based tracking, without any additional cameras, active depth sensors or extra processors, and without compromising CPU or GPU performance.
Facebook’s team are currently using an AR framework to test hand tracking for a wide range of people and environments. They plan to ship an SDK early next year so that developers can start unlocking hand tracking in their apps.
Oculus Link will let Quest users access Rift content
This November, a new product called Oculus Link will let Quest users connect their headset to a gaming PC via any USB-C cable and run the complete library of Rift experiences on their headset. Once connected, the Quest’s Qualcomm processor will be supplemented by the powerful internals of the users’ gaming PC to deliver a stunning, immersive VR experience on par with anything a high-end VR headset can offer.
Passthrough + is coming
One of the most exciting announcements for existing Oculus users is that an upgraded version of Passthrough, called Passthrough +, will soon be available. Passthrough lets users switch between VR content and view of their surroundings whenever they need to. Passthrough Plus will use high-performance image processing to give users a more accurate, comfortable and correct view of their surroundings than ever before.
New Facebook-powered social layer for Oculus users
One of the most exciting announcements from Connect 6 was news that Oculus is launching a completely new social layer powered by Facebook. With the aim of powering more of its social infrastructure through Facebook, this new layer will help Oculus realize its vision for a socially connected VR ecosystem.
Oculus users who log into this new social layer with Facebook will enjoy a number of new ways of finding and connecting with people while using their Oculus identity. Upcoming features include a chat feature that lets users message their friends in or out of a headset, a post feature for posting directly to Facebook from VR, and an events feature that makes organizing a tournament easier than ever before.
Facebook Horizon announced
Alongside a range of exciting new games such as Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond and the next episode in Vader Immortal, Facebook announced an entirely new social VR world called Horizon. Horizon will let Rift and Quest users build their own world and experiences, play games, explore, meet new people and hang out with friends. With everyone creating their own spaces and experiences within it, Horizon will have a continually expanding property.
The best of the rest
Facebook’s Connect 6 was all about the Quest, but there were a few other sneak peeks and announcements that deserve a mention!
Oculus users can look forward to Oculus TV, a new one-stop-shop for discovering immersive content on all kinds of media apps including Prime Video VR and many more.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg raved about CTRL-Labs’ upcoming wrist band that picks up signals from your neural networks and lets you interact with digital objects through thought alone.
The event wrapped with a glimpse at an upcoming ‘social teleportation’ feature that uses cameras pick up details of a user’s face and create a virtual avatar that looks and sounds just like them, helping to connect people in a more meaningful way. There are plans for this, and full-body tracking, to become a real-time option in the not too distant future.