Facebook has unveiled the Oculus Link, a new cable-software combo enabling Oculus Quest owners to play the full library of Rift games via their PC.
It's a surprising, but certainly welcome development, meaning that, when Link launches in November, those with an Oculus Quest will essentially get the best of both VR worlds. Not only will their headset continue to support self-contained, tether-free play, it can also be hooked directly up to a PC via USB-C cable to take full advantage of the extensive Rift library - and the presentational boost that a high-end PC's additional grunt affords.
All that's required is the Oculus Link software, a suitable cable (Facebook says it will release its own optical fibre cable later this year), and a gaming PC that supports USB-C.
According to Eurogamer's Ian Higton, who's in attendance at today's Oculus Connect event, Facebook's offering is more specifically a USB-C to USB-C cable, 6 meters in length, that will cost $80 USD (around £65) at launch. "You can use your own cable if you want," says Ian, "but the weight may not be there and lower end USB-C to USB-A cables may not be compatible".
Ian's also had chance to go hands-on with the Oculus Link, and reports, "There was hardly any noticeable latency and visually, everything was much, much sharper than games normally look on the Quest. I played Stormland and it looked fantastic."
That's not quite the end of it for Quest users either; Facebook also announced during today's Oculus Connect keynote that it would be bringing controller-free finger and hand tracking to the device sometime next year. Rather than relying on external sensors, this uses the Quest's built-in monochrome cameras, and, as Facebook puts it, "approximates the shape of your hand and creates a set of 3D points to accurately represent your hand and finger movement in VR".
And while it won't be appropriate for all scenarios, it certainly looks impressive in the accompanying video, and promises to add an extra layer of immersion to the virtual reality experience (not to mention convenience) by stripping away the need for handheld hardware.
At present, Facebook hasn't revealed whether the new finger and hand tracking system will also be coming to its current high-end PC headset, the Oculus Rift S. And, indeed, given that both it and the Quest retail for the same £399.99/$399.99 price tag, today's announcements raise questions about the future of the machine.