It’s been a little over a week since Facebook’s Oculus Connect 6 - or #OC6 - but folks are still coming down from the hype of the announcements, experiences, and overall excitement from this virtual reality conference. An Oculus Connect veteran, our very own Mike McArdle, made the trip out west, and upon his return filled us in on all the nitty-gritty details.
What is Oculus Connect (OC6)?
Oculus Connect is one of the world’s premiere VR conferences, gathering industry leaders, developers, and creators to celebrate what VR has accomplished and what the future holds. Since the first one in 2014, it’s become one of my favorite and regular conferences to attend. I’ve only missed one! I love the energy and being surrounded by like-minded people who are also completely sold on the promise and potential of VR.
What are the noticeable differences from the first Oculus Connect 2014 and OC6?
It’s certainly grown every year - they seem to be growing out of their current venue! But something, in particular, I’ve noticed and appreciated is how mindful and committed Oculus has been to diversity and inclusion. Last year they started handing out special name tags with pronouns on them and I’ve noticed an increase in diverse attendees each year. It’s great to see the extra attention they’ve put in to lead these tremendous efforts.
What announcement had the biggest wow factor?
There was a lot, but the one I'm most excited about is hand tracking for the Oculus Quest. It’s essentially taking the most natural VR headset (no wires, no PC, no external tracking) and makes it even more natural by removing the controllers. With hand tracking, you simply put on your Quest headset, and suddenly your very own hands are in VR.
Obviously, the less gear the better, but this capability also reduces friction when using VR for business. What the user experiences in VR is now even more closely related to what they experience in real life. For instance, if your organization needs pharmaceutical production line training, wearing the Quest and using your own hands to pick up items and push buttons is going to translate better to true on-the-job training. This will also lessen the amount of on-site and technical support from VR organizations to their clients - no more training on how to use the controller!
What announcements were shared that you didn’t expect?
Oculus Link for Quest was a nice surprise. It is a single cable you can connect to your Oculus Quest to a PC that allows you to access Oculus Rift content. As Oculus states, “it’s the best of both worlds: the high-end experiences of a Rift when connected to a PC, with the ease and portability of Quest on-the-go.”
Secondly, the progression of Augmented Reality glasses! Few details were shared in this announcement, but they did share more about the project “Live Maps”, including a “real world index” 3D mapping of the world. Apple and Google are also working on this type of technology, but Facebook opened up a bit on the work they’re doing on semantic understanding in AR. Essentially, the technology stack will allow the wearable AR device to understand the world more like how we do - not just “this surface is approximately 5 feet away” but more “this is a door and it is a transition space between two locations.” As a developer, this is incredibly exciting because it will allow us to create more robust and practical training tools.
And lastly, the Johnson & Johnson Institute partnered with Oculus to bring virtual reality training into the surgical world. According to their study at the Imperial College London, 83% of residents who trained with virtual reality were able to complete surgery with minimal guidance compared to 0% who had been traditionally trained. This is an exciting glimpse into the future of surgical and procedure training using virtual reality; we’ve long realized it is much more effective than traditional methods but we are now seeing some hard numbers backing that up.
Overall, I had a great time and look forward to experimenting with some of the new technology and tools Oculus unveiled as they roll out in the coming months.
Written by Mike McArdle
Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder, Lucid Dream VR