OCULUS QUEST AND OCULUS RIFT: TIPS, TRICKS, STRATEGY, ADVICE FROM THE VR TRAINING FRONTIER
Before You Buy Oculus Quest for VR Training or Education…
Summary: If you want to supercharge your VR education experience with Oculus Quest, discover more content, decrease development costs and increase the overall quality of content, we strongly encourage you to consider supporting your Quest with an Oculus compatible PC and an Oculus Link cable to massively boost your VR capabilities. A laptop upgrade will also set the stage for compatibility with other high-end VR hardware like Oculus Rift S, Varjo, HTC Vive, any of the Windows Mixed Reality systems or Valve Index if you choose to consider those hardware options as well.
Oculus Quest is a revolutionary VR headset that offers ‘untethered’ mobile experience. At last! No more cord, no more laptop. Lots of companies and schools have purchased large inventories of Oculus Quests. Due to this, we receive lots of inquiries for developing custom VR training and education content for the device.
Of course, there are a number of practical considerations to take into account before you purchase Oculus Quest for your enterprise or education VR applications. Also worth considering is that you can maximize the use of your Oculus Quest by adding an Oculus compatible PC into the mix.
The graphic on the right provides a summary, while the information below provides additional detail.
First, let’s start with some of the benefits of using Oculus Quest:
- Lower technical hassle by not having to support a laptop (which is required for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows MR or Valve Index).
- Lower cost of not having to purchase a laptop capable of supporting an Oculus.
- Untethered: The ability for users to take the headsets off site without needing a laptop. No need for a dedicated VR station.
Here are some practical considerations of using Oculus Quest:
- Content bottleneck: Far fewer educational experiences are available for Oculus Quest than there are for Oculus Rift.
- 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.
- Comfort: We’ve heard some reports that users find the Quest to be front heavy compared to the more balanced weight distribution of Oculus Rift S.
- Quality and Realism: Because the Quest is a 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 development 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, purports to offer higher priced hardware ($999 for Quest), 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 Oculus Rift / PC 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. 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 / Oculus Rift VR station.
The Oculus Link cable provides the best of all worlds. It allows you to use the Oculus Quest as a standalone device, while also being able to connect to a laptop for greater processing power. We’ve had good luck with this one (link).
If you’ve purchased or plan to purchase the Oculus Quest for VR training or education applications, we highly recommend budgeting for the purchase of laptops or Oculus compatible PC’s. This will turn your Quests into VR hardware capable of accessing the greatest range of virtual learning experiences. Perhaps more importantly, a laptop upgrade will also set the stage for compatibility with other high end VR hardware like Varjo, HTC Vive, any of the Windows Mixed Reality systems or Valve Index if you choose to consider those hardware options as well.
That’s all for now! I 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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