What We Know About Facebook’s New VR Headset

Oculus Quest 2 seems to be on the way, with a Bloomberg report, developer site references, leaked photos, leaked marketing images and a noticed controller driver file.

Reliable sources tell us this headset is real, entering full production this week.

The current Oculus Quest forged a new category for virtual reality. It’s the first consumer VR headset (outside the China-focused Vive Focus Plus) offering a directly interactive room-scale experience without the need for a gaming computer or PlayStation. It’s also the only such headset that works wirelessly out of the box (HTC sells a $300 Vive wireless adapter).

There’s still no direct competitor, at least not one with highly sought-after games like Beat Saber and Vader Immortal that’s also priced to tempt gamers. Will Facebook really launch a successor in 2020 or early 2021? The evidence suggests it might, but to be clear, the company hasn’t made any official announcements yet.

March: Developer Site Lists New Device

The first indication of a new Oculus headset emerged back in March. Facebook’s public Developer Documentation website started displaying a new device called ‘Del Mar’, with a ‘First Access’ program for developers.

Del Mar Leak

Further, the SDK documentation listed a new controller type, ‘Oculus Jedi Controller For Oculus Del Mar’. Since this find was in the mobile SDK, this was the first indication of the headset being standalone.

April: Jedi Controller Driver File

In April, developer Gerald McAlister found a driver file for the ‘Jedi’ controller within the firmware for the consumer Quest.

UploadVR analyzed the driver and compared it to the current controller driver. We found references to the following changes, but keep in mind we don’t know if any of these things actually made it to the final product:

• a 60Hz LED pulsing mode (up from current 30Hz)

• a new IMU (accelerometer & gyroscope) with less noise

• a haptics thread, suggesting potentially improved haptics

• some kind of analog finger position sensor codenamed ‘Rainier’

May: Bloomberg Report

In early May, Bloomberg reported Facebook working on a new Oculus Quest, with the following potential improvements:

• “at least 90Hz” refresh rate

• 10% to 15% smaller than the current Quest

• around 20% lighter

• “the removal of the fabric from the sides and replacing it with more plastic”

• “changing the materials used in the straps to be more elastic than the rubber and velcro currently used”

• “a redesigned controller that is more comfortable and fixes a problem with the existing controller”

July: Leaked Images

Last week, on Wednesday, Twitter tech leaker WalkingCat shared what appears to be a marketing render for the headset.

In late May, WalkingCat tweeted an image of the HP Reverb G2 the week before the official reveal. The account has a history of accurately leaking technology.

Oculus Quest S Twitter Leak

On Friday, the same account tweeted another angle, showing the rear and teasing the lenses. This shot was captioned ’15 Sep 🧐’.

We asked WalkingCat for a better shot of the lenses, and received this interesting shot as a reply:

Oculus Quest 2 Lens Leak

On Friday, while WalkingCat was leaking the apparent marketing shots showing the lenses, 4 photos showing the headset in the wild leaked across social media.

Oculus Quest 2

When is it coming out?

We don’t know. Sources indicate the headset is entering mass production, which often means a product could be just a few months out. But given the ongoing pandemic, it could be much further.

The marketing images leaker hinted September 15, but it’s unclear what exactly this date refers to.

According to Bloomberg’s sources, Facebook originally planned to launch around Oculus Connect 7, “but the coronavirus pandemic could delay the headset from shipping until 2021”.

Is It Really Called Quest 2?

Reliable sources refer to the headset as “Oculus Quest 2”, though it is unclear if that’s an an informal or temporary moniker, or the final name of the device.

Additionally, when asked by a Twitter user, the leaker behind the apparent marketing images replied ‘I believe its dubbed “Quest 2″‘.

Doesn’t this look like Oculus Go?

Go was an immersive media viewer, mostly marketed for watching passive immersive content as well as regular media on virtual screens. A Facebook manager once referred to it as “our media line” and it featured no on-board cameras. 

Oculus Headsets

Quest uses its four cameras to track wide motions in games. The leaked headset also has four cameras, but the top two look like they are positioned to see even wider movements. The Touch controllers appear to be improved, as the driver file suggested.

Does It Have IPD Adjustment?

Reliable sources tell us the headset has adjustable lenses with 3 distinct positions: 1-2-3.

The indicator is visible, set to the 2 position, in WalkingCat’s leak showing the lenses. Those with a narrow IPD would likely use setting 1, average 2, and wider IPDs would use setting 3.

What’s the resolution? Field of view?

There are no fresh recent reports of the device’s resolution or field of view. However, Bloomberg’s report from May indicated a refresh rate of 90 Hz.

Given the Oculus Rift S LCD panel is 80Hz, and Oculus Quest’s OLED panels are 72Hz, this could suggest a new panel. The Rift S panel was first introduced in the 2018 Oculus Go, and Quest’s in the 2018 HTC Vive Pro, so given the passage of time we could be in store for a resolution increase again.

Will It Use A Newer Snapdragon Chip?

For the refresh rate to be increased from 72 Hz to 90 Hz as Bloomberg reported, a more powerful processor would be required.

The Snapdragon 8-series is Qualcomm’s flagship mobile chip series, offering the highest performance. Snapdragon 835, used in the current Quest, launched back in 2017.

The following chipsets, then, are potential candidates for Oculus Quest 2:

  • 2018’s Snapdragon 845 (used in the $700 Pico Neo 2 enterprise headset)
  • 2019’s Snapdragon 855
  • 2020’s Snapdragon XR2/865 (used in the upcoming $1500 Lynx R1)

XR2 is a variant of the 865 specifically designed for XR headsets. At a Qualcomm event in Feburary, a Faceboook representative said the company is ‘super excited’ about the chip, but given the only announced product using it is $1500, it may be too early to appear in an Oculus product just yet.

The extra power of any of these chips may be used to increase the refresh rate and/or resolution.

What About Oculus Rift 2?

There are no reports of a new PC-only Oculus headset (Rift) on the horizon.

Facebook’s “Half-Dome” varifocal research prototypes were originally assumed to be for new Rifts. However, the company’s head of display research mentioned a goal to “run in real time on a mobile processor” as a requirement for the algorithm for realistic focus blur.

In November 2019, Oculus Quest got an update called Oculus Link. If you have a gaming PC, your Quest can now act as a Rift via the USB cable.

Oculus Link Outline

Facebook didn’t add Hand Tracking to Rift S, and the headset also didn’t get Guardian updates like color selection and startup object warnings. The Rift S changelog hasn’t shown major improvements since Oculus Link launched, with Quest clearly getting Facebook’s attention.

It’s conceivable the company plans to replace Quest and Rift S with this Oculus Quest 2, which could see it pitched as a “hybrid” headset.

Oculus Link uses a cable, but John Carmack (formerly CTO, now ‘consulting CTO’) suggested a future version could theoretically use a USB wireless dongle.

Will It Play All Quest Games?

At Oculus Connect 5 in late 2018, while announcing Quest, Mark Zuckerberg declared that it would be foward-compatible, which he explained meant all content for it “will run on the future devices”.

Will This Make My Quest Obsolete?

Quest is Facebook’s biggest success in VR so far. The new headset is clearly not a fundamentally new product, but appears to be refinement of the Quest experience. It still has four cameras and dual Touch controllers.

At E3 2019, the month after Quest launched, we interviewed Facebook VR exec Jason Rubin. He suggested Quest will see support for years to come.

“Quest is there and it’s going to be there for years and we’re not going to make you regret it.”

It seems unlikely Facebook will abandon the Quest userbase it built up any time soon, and it wouldn’t make sense for developers to not ship their products to a user base that’s driven some of the best sales for them on any VR platform so far. Given that there don’t appear to be radical changes to the controllers, it should also be relatively straightforward for developers to get their software working on both systems. Any performance improvements are likely to be used to increase refresh rate & resolution.

We’ll keep this post updated as we learn more about the new Oculus Quest and let us know in the comments if you have any more specific questions we can work to answer.


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