Legendary programmer and Oculus CTO John Carmack took the stage today at Oculus Connect to have another one of his famous off-script, stream-of-thought talks. Carmack was instrumental in architecting the company’s mobile VR platform, so when he talks about the 3DOF standalone headset Go, pretty much everyone listens. There’s a few sore spots in Oculus Go that Carmack thinks could be solved in the next generation of low-cost VR standalones.

“One of the really gratifying things to me is that the problems that people have with Go right now, they tend to be real world problems rather than ‘VR geek’ problems,” Carmack explains, starting off into his hopes for the next generation of casual mobile devices.

According to Carmack, the most important area for improvement is battery life. This, he explains, could be done in a number of ways, including putting in a bigger battery, a higher-spec battery, having more power-efficient silicon, or streamlining code. Even with a higher-spec battery though, one of the areas that definitely needs to improve is fast charging.

“It’s great to hear people have a device that they’re upset – that they’ve used Go earlier and it’s not fully charged up and they want to use it again. That’s a good problem to have.”

Image courtesy Palmer Luckey

One area that still needs a lot of work, Carmack says, is in the comfort department. In typical Carmackian fashion, he spoke candidly about Oculus’ priorities, saying he didn’t think the company has really put comfort at the top of the list. “It’s all been about packing the technology in and somehow wrapping a comfortable shape around that technology,” he said somewhat dejectedly, later pointing to hardware hackers who’ve improved Go by replacing the headband with a halo-style band, similar to the one found on PSVR.

“If we start getting to a point where we’re willing to sacrifice some technology in some cases in the name of comfort, for a lot of people that’s going to be the right trade-off.” 

More internal storage is important too, but what Carmack calls a “failure of the product” is the Go’s controller inherent ability to drift, requiring a user to recenter its virtual position to match the physical object. Here, in the casual class of standalone VR hardware, there’s an argument to be made for inside-out depth sensors and some kind of optical controller tracking like that implemented in Oculus Quest, the newly announced high-end standalone headset with positionally tracked headset and controllers. The associated cost to the system’s compute overhead however makes this a daunting task.

Oculus Quest Hands-on and Tech Details

Better resolution is also on the list, although Carmack thought cellphone companies would have started producing 4K resolution panels for smartphones by now, which the VR industry would co-op into VR headsets. “VR companies are going to have to foot the bill on next generation display density increases,” he concludes.

Photo by Road to VR

The seemingly lesser items on Carmack’s list garnered quick mention, including hand tracking, which could technically replace a controller for casual media consumption, although it comes with a significant computational cost.

An ambient light sensor could allow the headset to automatically adjust the displays illumination intensity for those moments when you’re in a dark room and don’t want too much light leakage to disturb another person.

Because the sun’s rays can ruin VR displays by magnifying through the headset’s lenses, sunburn protection for a next generation device makes sense to Carmack. An LCD layer that darkens upon contact with the sun’s rays could work, although a quick fix could be making the faceplate of the headset so it isn’t flat so users don’t leave it resting on tables, lenses pointed upwards.

Photo by Road to VR

In the end, Carmack reveals that the Oculus Go was initially a side project, and that Oculus Quest was the big gamble. Since the headsets were developed contemporaneously though, and targeting different sectors of the market—Oculus Go focused on media consumption, and Oculus Quest focused on gaming—there hasn’t been enough time to learn from Go and implement much into Quest, meaning some of these outstanding wishes aren’t entirely solved by the upcoming Quest.

You can learn more about Quest in our hands-on, which includes first impressions and everything we know about the headset.

You can check out the six-minute clip below to hear a little more about what Carmack hopes will be accomplished in future casual standalone headsets.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Xron

    So new go 2021? after 2nd gen rift? or rift 2022?… and then I go to see what others have to offer…

    • MosBen

      That’s what I’m thinking. Rift 2 in 2020, new Go in 2021, new Quest in 2022, etc. That feels like it matches the development cycles that we’ve seen so far.

      • Muzufuzo

        let’s hope that they plan to refresh more often

      • Bob

        Interesting prediction but the VR market is rather volatile right now so their plans may change depending on where the market is going. But yes in the ideal world this would be their release schedule.

        • MosBen

          It just seems like a pattern thus far that at least Oculus likes to talk about and release one product at a time. Maybe they’ll reshuffle things and release multiple tiers of products all at once, but at least for now it seems like they don’t like to have two new products both stepping on each other’s toes. And from a technology perspective, it does make a certain amount of sense to focus on taking the lessons learned from a higher tier product and then applying them to the next generation of a lower tier product.

  • MosBen

    Granted, I don’t at all know the economics of it, but I just assumed that the next generation Go would be the current generation Quest, just in a few years when the cost to produce it has dropped a bit. Then the next generation Quest will have whatever comes after the Snapdragon 845, some wider FOV, somewhat higher resolution, and maybe some features inherited from the Rift 2.

    In my perfect world, the Go line of hardware would be fully self-contained, like the Go and Quest are now. The Quest would have a modular compute unit, separate from the headset, like the Magic Leap, which would be clipped onto the user’s belt, or an armband, etc. You could upgrade either the HMD or the compute unit, or both. That would also allow the HMD to be lighter and cooler than the self-contained Go, while allowing for a more powerful computing component. The Rift, of course, would be tethered to a PC and reliant on the PC having more powerful computing power than a mobile chip.

    • Xron

      Maybe later on, when the masses will see Vr as something fun and worth their time and money, then companies will compete to get us the best wired/wireless/mobile hmd’s there could be, with the best tech at that time.
      For now its mostly Oculus that push the boundaries of Vr in all directions, not in one or 2 like others, but they can’t just spend xxxxxxx cash before they see that market is ready for it.

      • Darshan

        Apple already established… also successful in implanting marketing BS to mind of its demographic that what ever they are offering is Above Par, Luxurious, Very Easy to use, Classy… Now people with more money they don’t know what to do with will buy what… you can understand..

    • Darshan

      In my perfect world current flavor of Quest will have Advance chip WIFI 802.11AD computers can stream all RIFT games via NETGEAR Nighthawk X10 (should get little cheaper too) attached to gaming PC

      Since Quest using same controllers and very good display its just matter of WIFI 802.11AD chip included in headset

      Power management solution i have already suggest post above.

      There is no need for separate RIFT the Quest Will Become the Rift.

      • Totius

        I totally agree with you. I also don’t understand why to do not allow rift users to use every quest app, or not allow quest user to use Go’s ones.

      • MosBen

        I get the appeal, but that just runs up the cost of the units and gives people hardware that they might not want or need. If someone doesn’t have a gaming PC and doesn’t plan on getting one, then the ability to connect to a gaming PC isn’t worth anything to them, but it adds some amount of cost to the device. Meanwhile, someone that isn’t interested in taking their VR gear outside of their home office doesn’t need onboard computing hardware, and the presence of such hardware just adds weight and cost to the device. Maybe we’ll reach a point where the cost of building a device that does everything is negligible, and the audience for VR will be big enough that a minor increase in cost won’t scare people away.

        For now, though, it makes sense to make separate devices for each use case, and maximize them for that specific use case.

        • Darshan

          Adding USB 3.0 VirtualLink Port shouldn’t add that much to price of unit.. WIFI 802.11AD chip could be expensive agreed.

          Still in favor of adding USB 3.0 VirtualLink Port it will add to use case of expensive standalone unit which is for inside premises use only..

    • dk

      if the quest has a wire and u can upgrade the processing unit ….at that point having the option to plug it in a pc makes even more sense ….than it already does

      • brandon9271

        I’ve been saying for for years. I dunno know why they don’t do it.

        • dk

          they just think that the traditional model of a platform locked down to a limited hardware and software platform makes sense for making money ….instead of making it incredibly more open versatile and powerful

          • MosBen

            I can’t speak for Oculus, but I’d guess that making a device which can do two things well is harder and more expensive than making one that does one thing well. I’m not saying that it would massively increase the cost, just that they seem to want to have three tiers of products that each serve a slightly different use case and with different costs to entry. Making an all-in-one VR headset appeals to me, because I like the idea and would use multiple use cases. But most people have one niche that is where they’ll do most of their VR, at least until VR/AR become something that people use a lot of the time, pretty much every day.

          • dk

            yes it’s a bit harder ….for a massive pay off ….but what they want is a cheap console ….not a versatile powerful device that would have been probably 500 bucks

          • MosBen

            Whether such a device would be a massive payoff depends on your perspective. It probably wouldn’t sell as many units as separate devices, partly from people not buying multiple devices, but also people who would only be interested in the cheaper of the separate devices being put off by the increased cost. The difference between $400 and $500 is a big deal for a lot of consumers, and if we want VR to grow, and I’m sure that we both do, getting it into lots of hands is the best way for that to happen.

            But I’ll keep my fingers crossed for an all-in-one device down the road. That would be super cool.

          • dk

            I mean it will be a massive pay off in terms of capabilities ….in terms of sold units pay off it will have to be the same price as the quest otherwise it will most likely be a different class of device and u can’t compare it directly

          • daveinpublic

            How do you know they won’t enable wireless connection to desktop? I think even Carmack said they were looking into it.

          • dk

            there will be a pc connection …but it won’t have the same low latency as wired headset or as a headset with a full dedicated video receiver like the tpcast or the vive wireless adapter….and it will be at most 72hz ….it might actually be less with that resolution even though it will have the fixed foveated rendering like the go
            …..just ask how smooth is playing steamvr games on the vive focus ….it’s not quite a great experience …..but it could work to some extend
            ….on the other hand if it had optional wired connection it would have been a much better rift and could have been something like 500

  • Darshan

    Power banks are real solution … of course once they are properly implimanted, there will be side industry of powerbank cases with waist clips…!!!

    The issue with use of power banks currently is when you attach power bank Oculus Go routes power to battery first .. in this scenario if you use device while charging the battery will be charged and discharged at same time creating heating issues.

    The solution i suggest for this needs internal mechanism, which reject power from battery and take directly supply from power bank bypassing battery all together to power to device from powerbank. In this case you can’t charge device battery from powerbank port. In other words same port can not be used for powerbank and battery charging both unless single physical button placed for routing the supply via T-junction.

  • Daniel Will

    Nothing about the next gen of Rift at this OC?!

    • HomeAudio

      What they can say if there is so much noise about 200 FOV headsets? That they are hard working on 140 FOV? :D :D :D First Oculus Connect where they are COMPLETELY silent about PC VR!!

      • Muzufuzo

        That is only my prediction but they are probably going to update mobile units every two years and stationary every three.

        • Everything every three years.

          • Muzufuzo

            I hope not.

      • daveinpublic

        They talked about PC VR. Remember when they said they’re working on varifocal displays? And other stuff to do with that. Also mentioned Home 2.0 coming out of beta with some more features. Also said this completes gen 1, and said that they’re working on gen 2 for these devices.

  • R FC

    “One area that still needs a lot of work, Carmack says, is in the comfort department. In typical Carmackian fashion, he spoke candidly about Oculus’ priorities, saying he didn’t think the company has really put comfort at the top of the list.”

    Very apt statement from Mr Carmack; its something incredibly important for widespread adoption of immersive computing.

    I have a phrase I like to use, “Content is King, but Comfort is Key”.As an industrial designer with a focus on human ergonomics, its my area of interest.

    Perhaps many of us focus on technical specifications, but forget the “human” aspect of this equipment.

    My friend was kind enough to publish my article on his blog talking about these very issues and why they are so important, for anyone who is interested in this topic:


    • david vincent

      Yeah I’m really tired of this front-heavy design, especially after trying PSVR.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        But biggest problem with PSVR is lightleakage, it doesn’t close as much as the ‘scuba’ headsets.

        • Bob

          This^. One of the reasons why Oculus prefer to stick with their velcro strap solution is because it “seals” onto your face better than using a drop-down visor. It also helps to reduce headset sway when you’re doing something strenuous in the virtual space.

    • MosBen

      Yep, that’s something that I harp on here. Nicer specs is great, but few people are holding off on purchasing a VR headset because the resolution isn’t high enough. Everyone wants higher resolution, but it’s not the hurdle that’s keeping people from pulling out their wallets.

  • brandon9271

    But no wish list for CV2 because “fuck you, Rift owners!”


    • MosBen

      That’s just not the focus of this year’s conference. I’m sure that next year, when the Rift 2 is likely to be the product that they’re working towards, they’ll talk about the future of the tethered tier.

      • Marius Stubberud

        I wouldn’t be so sure that Rift 2 will be tethered. It’s entirely possible that it will be wirelessly connected to the computer. I guess it depends on whether wireless technology will have developed to the point of having high enough bandwith to support the demands of next gen hardware. I wouldn’t bet against it, at least.

        • MosBen

          I certainly hope that that’s true, and it would be super cool. I’m skeptical, just because it seems like wireless works on current setups, but I’m not sure how well it will keep up if more data needs to be sent to and from the headset (increased resolution, inside out tracking data, etc.). But even if the Rift 2 is wireless, it will be tethered in the sense that using it will require being connected in some manner to a PC that will do the computing for the VR experiences shown on the headset.

  • John Horn

    Better batteries than current Li-Ion batteries is something the world could need, regardless of usage as the requirements have increased. Li-Ion, although impressive when they came, have not fared well in terms of watt/use and also they are a very real fire hazard.

    Here’s to John Goodenough (94) of University of Texas (co-inventor of the original Li-Ion) developing that next gen battery as he has given hope for.

  • JesuSaveSouls

    There is old technology that has all been but dead.Its resolution and fps are out of the world.Fov beyond anything man invented or will invent.Its the ability to look with your own eyes and go for a walk and interact with people.No ai or bot nav system can compare or compete.Instead of wanting and waiting for almost human like robots we have neighbors as difficult and complex as they are we are called by God and His Son Jesus to love one another.Its amazing the advance playground and vr/ar system we have available created by God.

    • jj

      thats some dumb shit.. weve already proved we can replace body parts and even fake sensory input like audio(hearing aids) and soon video with our eyes. So yes ai and bot nav system can compare and if we competed we’d lose. keep your shitty religion out of here and always don’t forget to HAIL SATAN

      • Satan is a Trickster who will trick you into giving him your immortal Soul.

    • JesuSaveSouls

      I blocked that jj person because of constant insults and mocking like a bully but I want to give that person a message…Jesus loves that person and has a destiny beyond the understanding of any intellectual philosophies.

  • Kenji Fujimori

    He should just leave the company and start his own company again, why work for Zuckerberg? VR piracy issue is next in the near future..

  • GO & Quest are the future of VR, baby!