We may be getting a Quest Pro sooner rather than later.
Oculus may be gearing up for yet another VR hardware release in the near future, at least if these leaks have any substance. Reddit user Reggy04 decided to pick apart Oculus Quest firmware v32, which was the latest firmware up till v33 released within the past day or so. Not too much was found, but several interesting chunks of strings were discovered. For those who don’t know, a “string” in programming is a just a line of letters, and is what is used to store lines of text containing any letters and numbers. The lines of text found in firmware v32 seem reference a device along the lines of a Quest Pro, and gives us an idea of possible new features.
To start, a few strings of text seems to be from a calibration process for eye tracking
FOLLOW THE TARGET WITH YOUR GAZE EYE CALIBRATION FAILED EYE MOVEMENT ESTIMATION COMPLETE
Eye tracking can be used for a number of things. But of all the possibilities, the most likely for me would be dynamic foveated rendering. If you owned, or currently still own, the original black Oculus Quest headset, you’ll likely have noticed that while the center seems to be full resolution, most of the time the outer edges of your field of view looked much more pixelated. This is called foveated rendering, and in this case specifically, static foveated rendering. Foveation is a render method where the center of an area is full resolution, and then resolution drops off further away from that central area. It allows better performance in games as the system doesn’t need push as many pixels. On the original Quest, it is static, unmoving and permanently bound to the center of your field of view. Eye tracking would allow dynamic foveated rendering. It’s similar, but rather than being stuck at a set point, the center point is moves based off of eye position. In short, it will allow even more performance while still allowing a sharp image for the player, as anything outside of the center point of their vision will be blurred anyway by their peripheral view.
It looks like there may also be face tracking of some kind in there as well.
SMILE NATURALLY UNTIL THE CALIBRATION IS COMPLETE. YOU MAY NEED TO HOLD THIS POSE FOR A FEW SECONDS. SHOW AN ANGRY EXPRESSION UNTIL THE CALIBRATION IS COMPLETE. YOU MAY NEED TO HOLD THIS POSE FOR A FEW SECONDS. FROWN NATURALLY UNTIL THE CALIBRATION IS COMPLETE. YOU MAY NEED TO HOLD THIS POSE FOR A FEW SECONDS. SHOW A SURPRISED EXPRESSION UNTIL THE CALIBRATION IS COMPLETE. YOU MAY NEED TO HOLD THIS POSE FOR A FEW SECONDS. FAILED TO CALIBRATE THE EXPRESSION. RETRYING… FACE MOVEMENT ESTIMATION COMPLETE
Now this one seems to be fairly interesting. Currently most facial trackers track everything the face is doing and pass that shape to whatever app is trying to use it. Oculus, on the other hand, may be taking a different approach where just a few base expressions will be passed, like an emotional state, rather than what your face is actually currently shaped like. It could also just be a way to calibrate face shaping, but for now it’s anyone’s guess.
Lens Depth Adjustment
This one isn’t as big of a deal as the previous ones, but it is still something to be excited about if it does end up being in a final product.
PRESS AND HOLD THE DEPTH BUTTON AND MOVE THE HEADSET CLOSER OR FURTHER AWAY FROM YOUR FACE. THE LENSES SHOULD BE CLOSE TO YOUR EYES, BUT NOT CAUSE DISCOMFORT. ADJUST LENS DEPTH
This one is pretty key in my opinion, as it allows the user to move the lenses of the headset closer or further from their eyes, which would give them the ability to create a good balance for themselves of FOV and comfort. The closer you bring your eyes, the wider the FOV, but for users like myself with either glasses or lens inserts, have just the glasses spacer is not great, as without I find it to be too close and the lenses touching my eyelashes and eyebrows, but with the spacer it’s just a touch too far and greatly reduces my FOV. This type of adjustment was previously on the Oculus Rift S, and is currently on headsets like the Valve Index.
When Will it be Officially Announced?
If any of these string snippets are actually indicative of a product, and not just remnants of test code for a product that won’t see the light of day, the wait to at least hear about it is likely not far off. The next upcoming Facebook Connect is slated for October 28th. And since last year, this conference will be the one-stop shop for anything Facebook, including their Oculus VR division. Last year’s Facebook Connect is where the Quest 2 was announced, and would be the best bet to hear about some kind of Pro model HMD.