In brief: Facebook is looking to make its Oculus Quest headset a better value proposition for people looking to try out VR experiences. To that end, the headset will receive software upgrades that enable gesture input without the need for any additional hardware. The company is also bringing Rift-compatible PC games to the Quest with a tethering solution called Oculus Link, as well as a social layer powered by Facebook.
Facebook detailed their VR and AR plans for the coming years at its annual Oculus Connect conference in San Jose, CA. The company believes it can use technology to change the way people interact, so it's been working on several innovations that will go into its Oculus headsets, including social integrations and AI-powered gesture recognition.
The company revealed that the $399 Oculus Quest launched earlier this year will receive a software update in early 2020 that will allow users to interact with digital interfaces using their hands or individual fingers. An AI will interpret your gestures, so this is meant as a software solution to replace the need for physical controllers and thus reduce the entry cost of VR for people who have been on the fence because of it.
Another highlight of the conference is Oculus Link, which is Facebook's solution for gamers who want to tether their Quest headset to VR-capable PCs via USB-C. This will allow access to a large library of apps and games that goes beyond what you can natively run on the Quest itself. The device will be available starting this November and will bridge the gap between the Quest and the Rift S, which only has the advantage of a higher 80 Hz refresh rate.
The social layer, however, is going to be a polarizing move for Oculus fans. The company says Oculus users will be able to use their Facebook login later this year to message their friends, create events, and post directly on the social network. The company says it's building a "socially-connected VR ecosystem" where people can share clips of their gaming experiences with others as invitations to join in. Those who are invited can use a link in the chat to instantly open the same title on their own Oculus headset.
Logging into your Oculus device using your Facebook login remains optional for now, but the company seeks to build a more unified platform, so with every new feature you'll probably have more reasons to link your account.