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John Carmack Talks Oculus Quest 2, XR2 & 'Air Link' To PC VR

John Carmack Talks Oculus Quest 2, XR2 & 'Air Link' To PC VR

Backed by a triple monitor setup, Facebook’s part-time technical guide John Carmack spoke about the state of VR this week unscripted and largely uninterrupted for roughly 82 minutes.

Wikipedia gives the runtime of the movie “This Is Spinal Tap” as 82 minutes. So you could hit play on the movie at the same moment Carmack starts talking, and you’d be at the end of the movie just about the time Carmack finishes saying “and I think I’m about done here.” During the unbroken stream of consciousness closing out Facebook Connect on Sept. 16, the co-creator of Doom, rocket scientist, and long-time VR enthusiast covers everything from Oculus Quest 2 and its “state-of-the-art” XR2 chipset to the Oculus Link PC VR connection, internal drama at Facebook, and their push toward a general purpose computing system.

In the comments and description of the video below I’ve got a guide taking you directly to some of the most interesting comments. One in particular comes up around 31 minutes and 28 seconds into the talk when Carmack discusses a wireless connection between a gaming PC and Oculus Quest.

“We still haven’t announced a full, like, wireless connection system for Link,” Carmack acknowledged. “And we have these interminable arguments internally about this — about quality bars — and I…can say right this very minute someone is using a wireless VR streaming system and getting value from it.”

Guy Godin’s Virtual Desktop, of course, is one of the most obvious examples. The version of the app available through the Oculus Store for Quest doesn’t allow owners to play their PC VR games wirelessly due to restrictions imposed by Facebook, given variability in the quality of the experience. Plenty of people venture onto SideQuest, though, and install a patch that unlocks this capability. Though Carmack doesn’t specifically name Virtual Desktop in his comments, he essentially points out solutions like that are “clearly meeting someone’s minimum quality bar and delivering value because they keep coming back and doing it…so I continue to beat that drum where we should have some kind of an ‘Air Link.'”

That’s the first time we’ve noted that term “Air Link” and it’s interesting to hear him speak this openly about the situation surrounding a wireless PC VR connection. Oculus Quest is already one of the leading PC VR headsets used on Steam via methods like Oculus Link and Virtual Desktop, and Oculus Quest 2 is poised to send a lot more Facebook headsets into use on Steam starting in October.

We’ll have updates as soon as we hear more about Facebook’s plans for wireless PC VR games on Oculus Quest. I encourage you to check out some of Carmack’s comments at the time stamps noted as chapter markers in the video above. Carmack’s comment’s provide a a rare view into Facebook’s internal team dynamics while providing glimpses of the road ahead sprinkled throughout.

Here’s some more time stamps to jump to as well:

  • 00:03:03 “Global lockdown and pandemic should have been sort of the global coming of age for virtual reality…”
  • 00:05:12 “Unfortunately location-based VR has probably taken a terminal hit from this…”
  • 00:06:00 “People are OK with kind of making a sweaty mess in their own personal headset..”
  • 00:08:55 “Lag in reality like that – it grates — and it is fixable and it’s something we could make a difference on and that could make a real difference in a lot of these meetings…”
  • 00:12:07 “You have to get everything right and then you’ve got reality as something just seamlessly flows into the simulation, sometimes I talk about how it would be interesting to go ahead and take the lighting in a room and synchronize that up with our screen flashes…”
  • 00:14:06 “Quest 2 is better, faster, cheaper, and we’re making a ton more of them…this is very close to a pure win..”
  • 00:14:54 “The actual resolution is 3664×1920 but it’s a full RGB stripe…that means it is a little over twice the number of subpixels [as compared to Quest]”
  • 00:16:33 “This is getting to the point where you could start doing some real work with it, it might have some advantages over laptops in some situations.”
  • 00:17:36 Field of View and IPD: “It’s better than Rift S or Go that had no adjustment at all and it has allowed us to get this kind of much better screen for it.”
  • 00:18:34 “It is clearly the best display that we’ve ever had.
  • 00:31:29 “We still haven’t announced a full wireless connection system for Link…we should have some kind of an Air Link”
  • 00:32:47 Qualcomm XR2…”for the first time we are using a state-of-the-art chip”
  • 00:59:12 “Whatever the next headset is we’ve got to get higher resolution on the tracking cameras.”
  • 01:00:45 “We did look at this for the latter days of Gear VR, doing this kind of two part plug-in instead of drop-in, and there may still be some useful things to go there.”
  • 01:00:59 “There are still some things for which Go is the best headset”
  • 01:02:04 “Eventually putting on the headset should be as seamless as answering a phone call…”
  • 1:02:31 “Having things converged now on our VR platforms is an enormous relief. It’s really hard to overstate how much drama internally this has been over the years…”
  • 1:03:12 “We have this low-powered gaming focused device which wasn’t really what anybody was aiming for at the beginning…”
  • 1:05:17 “Getting the more inexpensive systems out on VR is critical, and eventually we can have our super high-end boutique things…”
  • 1:08:47 “Maybe you have a controller-free SKU where the controllers are more expensive but they never lose tracking…”
  • 1:12:06 “It is all about the headset learning to understand the world around it…”
  • 1:18:41 “We’ve got our push to be a general purpose computing system…”
  • 1:19:40 “I think we need more Android applications…”
  • 1:21:40 “And I think I’m about done here…”

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