The Oculus Quest – a game changer for VR in fitness, rehabilitation and therapy

On 21st May 2019, Oculus released the latest standalone VR headset. By standalone, we mean no PC and most importantly, NO WIRES!

Now there have been many standalone headsets in the past, such as the Oculus Go, Google Daydream, Samsung Gear and Vive Focus. So why is the Quest so special?

It is the first standalone headset to provide 6DoF tracking (i.e. positional tracking around a room). All for the price of a console (£399)! Instead of needing a powerful gaming PC, the Quest just requires a smartphone to set up. This means that 6DoF VR just became affordable for a lot more people.

Although the Quest is not as powerful as PC VR, the experiences are still just as good, if not better due to the fact that you are untethered! No more worrying about where the wire is – you can duck, dodge and spin in circles, in any direction, as much as you want. The lack of wires not only adds to the immersion of VR by not having to worry about wires, but also by allowing for a much larger play area (up to 25x25ft – although this can be even larger when Oculus’s guardian is turned off). Being able to walk around freely with less restriction adds so much more to games like Superhot, Tilt Brush and Apex Construct, as well as opening up more possibilities for games that allow you to make use of those larger spaces – especially ones aimed at fitness!

The guardian system is a great feature recently implemented by Oculus, allowing you to see a passthrough camera view of the room around you when you step outside your designated play area. The passthrough camera can also be turned on at any time in the settings. This means you don’t have to keep taking your headset on/off when you want to grab a quick drink, check your surroundings or move things etc.

The Quest is extremely easy to set-up, it took around 15 minutes for the initial set-up, then after that you can simply pick it up, turn it on and go!

So we’ve talked about the positives but what about the downfalls? The Quest is the first of its kind so its expected that some things could be improved upon in the future.

The first negative comment is about the comfort of the headset, although it’s not uncomfortable when put on correctly, it is a bit heavier than other VR headsets – which is not a surprise when you think about everything they’ve had to include to make it standalone (e.g. processor, graphics card, battery etc.).

The other negative comment we had was about the tracking field of view for the controllers – although the inside out tracking is impressive whilst inside the field of view of the headset cameras, the controllers cannot be tracked outside of this. Although this isn’t too much of a problem in most games and there are algorithms in place to predict the movement of the controllers outside of this view, it does limit some of the movements that are possible with the Quest.

The battery life is only 2-3 hours but this shouldn’t be much of a limitation as you generally won’t want to spend more than 2 hours in active games. Also you can always charge it whilst using it – the charging cable is fairly long, or you can connect it up to a battery pack in your pocket.

Quest for fitness, rehabilitation and therapy

At Virtually Healthy we are looking to use VR for fitness, rehabilitation and therapy! So how does the Quest help in this regard?

Not only is the Quest more affordable than other 6DoF VR headsets, it also gives users much more freedom than tethered VR systems – the lack of wires is so liberating! This freedom of movement not only increases the potential for exercise, but also allows for a more immersive experience. As the distraction benefits of VR are increased with the immersion, this means that VR may be even more effective at distracting from mental and physical pain!

We are excited to be using the Quest in our movement research starting next month, alongside the HTC Vive (wired 6DoF VR). It will be interesting to see any differences in movements between games on the Vive and the Quest – keep an eye out for our results!

64GB or 128GB?

Many people have been asking the question ‘What memory size will I need?’ and the answer is generally dependant on how you want to use the Quest. 64GB limits the number of games you can store on the Quest (bearing in mind that the system settings/OS takes up around 11GB of this space), with the 128GB giving you much more room to store games, apps and films. There is also no microSD slot on the Quest to expand the memory at a later date.

But £100 is a lot of money for some more memory.

You can stream video content using apps such as YoutubeVR and BigScreenVR as well as easily uninstall/download games and apps you’ve purchased as and when you want to play them, meaning that you’ll always be able to expand your collection and choose which of that content to store on the Quest at any one time, no matter which version you choose.

Games don’t take up more than a few GB at the moment (the largest so far is Vader Immortal: Episode 1 at 2.7GB), meaning you can fit a large number of games on the 64GB before it fills up (probably around 30-40), however who knows how large some games/apps could get in the future.

It isn’t just games that you can get on the Quest though, you can store pictures, videos, films and other experiences too, so if you’re wanting all of this and more stored on your Quest at all times, it might be worth considering the larger memory option.

Overall, if you are not planning to have a massive collection or are happy to switch over content as and when you want it if it gets full, then go for the 64GB to save yourself some money. But if you have the money to spare and want to have a large selection of content stored on your Quest so it’s all available to pick up and play, then go for the 128GB.

Overall Pros and Cons

Pro’s

-6DoF

-Wireless

-Great resolution (1600×1440 per eye)

-Large play area (up to 25x25ft with the potential for a larger space but without the safety of the guardian)

-Released with many great games (e.g. Beat Saber, Space Pirate Trainer and Superhot – all great games to get people moving!)

-Effective tracking within the field of view

-Easy set-up

-Passthrough camera

-Cost

Cons

-Less comfortable than other VR headsets (front heavy)

-Controller tracking has a limited field of view (i.e. cannot track behind your back)

-Battery life (2-3 hours)

-No microSD card slot

Posted on: May 27, 2019, by :

8 thoughts on “The Oculus Quest – a game changer for VR in fitness, rehabilitation and therapy

    1. Not at the moment but definitely something we’re interested in for the future! I’ll send you an email to discuss 🙂

  1. Hi,
    I would like to know how can I have a contact with the research team ??.I’m working on a PhD project using immersive VR for people with chronic low back pain and still looking for VR glasses offer more movement and physically active environment

    1. Hi Anthony, next month we are starting research into the movements induced by different VR games (we have currently been sent around 40 games by developers to analyse) and their effectiveness at increasing motivation to exercise! We will be testing these games over the course of 20 weeks with 20 participants attending for one hour per week. Participants will play these games wearing a heart rate monitor and 3D motion capture suit. The plan is to create holistic VR exercise programmes which help mental and physical health using these results – firstly for general fitness then for specific health conditions (e.g. obesity, chronic pain, depression, COPD, diabetes…). In the future we want to work with the NHS to complete clinical trials to test the effectiveness of the health programmes and will also be looking to create an accreditation system for VR games with health benefits. If you’d like to discuss further please feel free to email me on admin@virtuallyhealthy.co.uk!

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