Reflections on Oculus Connect 4
Last week, I was able to attend Oculus Connect 4. It is Oculus' annual conference for virtual reality developers. Although I did not attend any data-related sessions, the sessions that I did attend provided a lot of information on the future of virtual reality and lessons learned from Oculus and other developers. I was interested in social VR uses as well as narrative VR so the sessions I went to were focused around those topics.
There are two big takeaways from the conference that I found very interesting. The first was the development of Project Santa Cruz. This is their code name for their inside-out tracking headset. Inside-out tracking doesn't require sensors like the Rift and HTC Vive. Instead, cameras are mounted onto the headset to track the controllers and the environment. In one of the developer sessions, The State of Standalone VR, Sean Liu, a Project Manager at Oculus, talked about how much testing they did for their Santa Cruz controllers, including testing how much people pressed the buttons, shown on this cool chart.
Although I don't quite understand it fully (even with the explanation), I think it's really cool how much testing has gone into the controllers and the headset to allow for an eventual untethered, wireless virtual reality experience! I really can't wait for this headset to be available for the public.
The second big takeaway for me was how much Oculus (and Facebook) are focusing on social experiences in virtual reality. In my opinion, social VR is really cool simply because you can be with your friends or family in an immersive space, even if you are miles and miles apart. Mike Booth, Product Manager of Social VR at Facebook, talked a lot about how the purposes of social VR and why they built Facebook Spaces.
Right now, you can do a lot of things in Facebook Spaces, you can invite up to 3 friends and do 3D drawing, broadcast to Facebook Live, view videos and pictures together, and even call your friends on Messenger. Mike talked about how they're trying to implement more content that will support the three reasons why they're developing social VR. In the future, we can look forward to viewing Quill stories together, play games together, and even view live 360 video together. Personally, I'm very excited about the development of social VR as it is another way to stay connected with friends and family, albeit with a higher barrier of entry since everyone needs a VR Ready Windows PC and an Oculus Rift headset with Touch controllers.
If you want to see more of the Developer Sessions from Oculus Connect 4, keep an eye on this YouTube playlist from Oculus. They're gradually uploading Developer Sessions from the conference there.