Last Year’s Keynote Hints Upcoming Announcements

John Carmack doesn’t mince phrases. The legendary developer, who for a number of years held the position of Oculus CTO however now maintains a much less formal “consulting CTO” association, says that his keynote presentation eventually 12 months’s Fb Join convention foreshadowed among the bulletins that may be anticipated on the occasion subsequent week. However the bulletins received’t come with out some private reservations as “lots of the challenges and ache factors for me nonetheless stay unresolved,” he says.

In anticipation of subsequent week’s Fb Join (previously Oculus Join) convention, the place Carmack will ship one other unscripted keynote, he mentioned this week that he rewatched final 12 months’s keynote.

“There’s undoubtedly some foreshadowing of issues to be introduced subsequent week,” he mentioned on Twitter. “However lots of the challenges and ache factors for me nonetheless stay unresolved.”

Prone to the chagrin of Fb’s PR people, Carmack through the years has managed to talk bluntly about Oculus in a method that the majority different staff by no means do. His famously unscripted keynotes usually cowl a variety of subjects, and his session at Oculus Join 6 final 12 months was no exception. Along with speaking about the place he thought the corporate was doing effectively and issues he was pleased with, he additionally spoke of missed alternatives, errors, and issues that might be executed higher each in and software program.

With the speak clocking in at one and a half hours, there’s no clear option to pin down what he would possibly think about “foreshadowing” of bulletins to ache factors which he considers “unresolved.” A abstract of his keynote, nonetheless, a minimum of clues us in to what we’d hear about subsequent week.


Final 12 months's Keynote Hints Upcoming Bulletins 18Picture courtesy Oculus

Carmack opened his presentation speaking about how “friction is such a dominant pressure” in retention of VR customers. He mentioned the corporate discovered via the launch of Go, Quest, and Rift S that making headsets simpler to make use of (by making them standalone and/or together with inside-out monitoring) meant that customers would use their headsets way more usually than in comparison with Gear VR and the unique Rift, each of which had higher friction in utilization.

“There’s additionally fairly a little bit of headroom for us to the place we are saying ‘we nonetheless have all these friction factors with Quest, and there’s nonetheless all the standard and issues we will do to enhance it’,” he mentioned. “So we will anticipate future headsets to proceed to take these ratcheting steps up as a increasingly more retentive platform.”

Whereas Rift S was an enchancment over the unique Rift in retention, Carmack confirmed that “Quest is by far our most retentive ,” solidifying the corporate’s major give attention to Quest.

Future Headsets

On the subject of future VR headsets, Carmack laid out what he referred to as a “choice tree for brand spanking new headsets.” Although he didn’t make any bulletins, he particularly mentioned “you possibly can possibly infer some potential instructions that issues may go.”

Final 12 months's Keynote Hints Upcoming Bulletins 19‘Santa Cruz’, an early Quest prototype, had a cut up structure with energy and compute on the rear of the headset

On that entrance he talked about a number of potential headset architectures like the present Quest ‘all-in-one’ standalone or a ‘cut up structure’ the place battery and compute is at the back of the headstrap and even in a ‘computing puck’ in your pocket, however he careworn that every of selections selections comes with tradeoffs about efficiency, battery life, and manufacturability.

Final 12 months's Keynote Hints Upcoming Bulletins 20A teardown of Valve’s Index headset reveals the advanced mechanism obligatory for an IPD adjustment with cut up shows. | Picture courtesy GamerToTheEnd

On shows, Carmack waxed concerning the execs and cons of LCD vs. OLED and cut up shows vs. single shows together with variations in manufacturability, pixel density, IPD adjustment assist, and show properties like distinction ratio and brightness. He identified that the corporate has flip-flopped between these choices throughout its headsets: Rift CV1 with cut up OLED shows, Go along with a single LCD show, Quest with cut up OLED shows, and Rift S with a single LCD show.

He roughly concluded that LCDs sometimes are inexpensive, brighter, and supply higher pixel density, whereas OLEDs have decrease latency, higher distinction, however undergo from restricted brightness. Carmack famous that OLEDs have the potential to be curved which might be helpful for VR shows, although he mentioned the best can be a “bowl form” show which he hadn’t seen prototyped.

As for decision, spoke to the concept a VR headset ‘needs to be the most effective display screen in the home’. For that, he urged, the corporate ought to transfer its complete show density into the 4K realm, in order that (after splitting per-eye and accounting for subject of view) a headset may roughly method the standard of a 1080p TV.


He additionally talked concerning the potential for utilizing diffusers, skinny movies which will be utilized to a show to assist cover the ‘display screen door impact’. The corporate has experimented with a number of choices, he mentioned, however has but to ship one in a headset. That would change although, he alluded.

Refresh Charge

He additionally talked about 120Hz being a perfect refresh price for media playback in a VR headset for its skill to completely divide simply between 24Hz (cinema framerate) 30Hz (TV body price) and 60Hz (net video framerate). Whereas driving video games at such a excessive framerate on a cell chipset is “actually powerful to think about,” he urged cell headset may have greater than sufficient energy to run media content material at 120Hz.


As for the processor utilized in Quest, Carmack mentioned that many questioned why the corporate selected an older Snapdragon 835 chip moderately than one thing newer. He urged that this older and extra mature chipset was a more sensible choice whereas the corporate was spinning up its experience on this space. Now that the staff is extra skilled, he mentioned, “I feel it’s doubtless we will probably be nearer to the state-of-the-art [chipset] in [future headsets].”

Oculus Hyperlink Upgrades

Final 12 months's Keynote Hints Upcoming Bulletins 21Picture courtesy Oculus

A significant portion of his presentation talked about Oculus Hyperlink being a “first step,” for PC tethering performance on Quest. He confirmed the corporate would naturally wish to transfer from a tethered Oculus Hyperlink expertise to a wi-fi expertise down the highway. There’s important room for bettering the Hyperlink expertise, in each high quality and latency, however which will require a deeper collaboration with Qualcomm (which makes the chips in headset), Carmack mentioned.

Carmack additionally spoke concerning the software program expertise of Hyperlink itself. On the outset, the corporate has opted to easily deal with a Quest plugged right into a PC just about like a Rift—the headset sees every little thing a Rift would see, dashboard and all.

However a extra built-in method may be fascinating, he mentioned, one the place the person’s PC VR library would merely be listed contained in the native Quest library interface. That method, customers may plug Quest into their PC and use the headset’s personal interface to seamlessly select between standalone purposes and PC-based purposes. Carmack famous that such a “extremely designed expertise” might be even much less frictional than the present method which treats the standalone Quest and PC experiences as utterly separate. “There’s an opportunity we’ll shift towards operating [Link games] immediately [through the Quest interface],” he mentioned.

Video as a First Class Expertise in VR

Carmack reiterated a number of instances his perception that VR needs to be a “common platform” able to doing many issues effectively, not simply gaming. To that finish, he has dedicated a lot of his time to demonstrating finest practices for displaying top quality video and photographs in VR. “There’s a trillion price of content material made for [non-VR] screens,” he mentioned, suggesting that bringing that content material into the headset is a low-hanging fruit. “[A] VR [headset] needs to be the most effective display screen in the home.”

He decried the poor person expertise of immersive video on Oculus headsets, saying that there’s nice immersive video content material on the market that isn’t getting its due due to a fragmented expertise. One key challenge, he mentioned, is that a lot immersive video content material is locked inside particular person apps that are easy wrappers round a video, every requiring their very own set up, distinctive interface, and sometimes lengthy loading instances due to a reliance on a game-engine like Unity. A greater expertise, he mentioned, can be if video content material was accessible via a easy, top quality native Quest interface.

Final 12 months's Keynote Hints Upcoming Bulletins 22Oculus TV on Quest has turn into extra deeply built-in into the OS ‘shell’ | Picture courtesy Oculus

Whereas the immersive video expertise continues to be very fragmented on Quest, the corporate has made some strides towards Carmack’s imaginative and prescient by way of the Oculus TV app which lets customers browse some immersive movies, and even Quill art work, from a local Quest interface.

He additionally talked about the necessity to convey the smartphone expertise into VR. “Hopefully folks will probably be spending massive quantities of time in VR and their telephones are vital. We have to discover some option to floor that stuff in [VR].”

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And that’s simply the highlights! If you wish to see Carmack’s full Oculus Join 6 presentation, you possibly can test it out right here. Tell us what you suppose is being foreshadowed and what you anticipate to see subsequent week at Fb Join.

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