OCULUS QUEST AND OCULUS RIFT: TIPS, TRICKS, STRATEGY, ADVICE FROM THE VR TRAINING FRONTIER
Before You Buy Oculus Quest for VR Training or Education…
[Update: Facebook requires their consumer Oculus Quest to be accessed using authentic private Facebook accounts. For schools and other organizations where this is incompatible with security and privacy policies, we we encourage consideration of other high performance VR systems powered by a PC. Use of a PC to power your VR experience sets the stage for a greater range of educational applications and a larger selection of high-end VR hardware like HP Reverb G2, HTC Vive, Valve Index, and more.]
Here are some practical considerations of using consumer Oculus Quest in education:
- Content bottleneck: Far fewer educational experiences are available for Oculus Quest than there are for other PC VR options.
- Technical hassle: Many Quest applications must be ‘sideloaded’ which requires a bit of technical know-how and hassle. This, along with distributing and maintaining these headsets, can become a lot of work. It can be far less time consuming to simply maintain a PC and Oculus Rift station.
- Development Costs / Complexity: Custom developing VR applications for Quest comes at a much higher cost. This is due to the expert levels of optimization required to build a high quality experience.
- Battery Life: In high throughput scenarios, battery life of the Quest can become a challenge. Often in these scenarios, the headset remains plugged in during use to maintain battery power. Now you’re tethered again.
- Heat: When the Quest is in use for long periods of time (such as when many students need to complete a VR training or education simulation one after another), the Oculus Quest can become quite warm. However, by the time the heat gets too intense, you will likely need to stop using it for it to charge. It will then cool off.
- Remote access: Sending Quests home with students in an educational setting brings a whole slew of challenges too great to cover in this summary. Allowing students to take home school-owned Oculus Quests also violates Facebook’s terms of service as of this writing.
- Quality and Realism: Because the Quest is a lightweight mobile device, the processing capability is substantially diminished. Of course, there are high quality VR applications available on the Quest. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these were developed by large development studios, with substantial budgets. The optimization required to achieve this level of quality is non-trivial, so it isn’t yet reasonable to assume every VR developer will begin creating content of equivalent quality without incurring substantial development costs. Connecting to a PC multiplies your processing capabilities. This also offers a far more efficient on ramp to high quality VR training experiences with greater realism and interactivity.
- Oculus for Business, an initiative announced earlier this year, offers higher priced hardware ($999 for Quest – although the hardware itself is identical to their consumer version), which introduces systems for easier content distribution and managing multiple headsets. Unless you’re prepared to make a substantial investment in a very large number of headsets, this may not be your best option. In our experience, most schools are still in early experimental stages. Because of this, a single $999 Oculus Quest is perhaps less attractive and capable than a $1,500 PC VR station to get started with. This is especially true given the reality of other considerations listed above. A recent report by Road to VR discusses the current situation the Oculus for Business program (link).
In the end, organizations that have deployed VR training and educational experiences using the Quest have run into the problems listed above, and now are struggling to find ways to use the headsets without each student using their own private Facebook accounts. They find that they could have had greater success, as well as higher quality and a larger selection of content, by supporting a standard PC VR station.
That’s all for now! We hope this is useful information as you explore the integration of VR training and education in your organization. Please feel free to reach out via the contact form below if you have any questions, or subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on the latest and greatest from the virtual frontier.
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Jon Brouchoud is the founder and CEO at Arch Virtual, developers of the Acadicus VR Training platform.
Jon leads Arch Virtual’s development team, and his passion is using virtual reality technologies to solve real world problems. He has over 20 years of experience in professional practice and has won numerous awards and competitions for his work in 3D development for clients including GE Healthcare, Suzuki, NBA Sacramento Kings, ASSP, American Family Insurance, ExxonMobil, Oculus, Facebook and many others.
Jon holds a Master’s Degree in Architecture, and his work has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, Architectural Record, and the Chicago Tribune.
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