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Facebook's Custom Oculus Link Cable for the Quest Will Cost $79

Oculus Quest owners who want to play Oculus Rift games on the headset will need a PC gaming rig, but also a long USB-C 3.0 cable, so Facebook will sell a 5-meter (16-foot) cable to Quest owners for $79. At its Oculus Connect conference today, the company announced Oculus Link, which will let the Quest headset play Rift-based games from a PC for the first time via a software update rolling out in November. "One of the most requested features to date has been the ability to access your Rift titles directly within the Quest," Facebook product manager Zachariah Reiner told developers at the conference in San Jose. All Quest users will have access to Oculus Link when it arrives as a public beta, Reiner added. Any USB-C 3 cable will do. But because VR headset owners will be moving around while attached to their PC gaming desktop, Facebook designed a custom 5-meter cable that promises to be light, flexible, and offer a high signal quality. At a talk at Oculus Connect, Facebook lead systems architect Behnam Bastani said the company investigated whether an ideal USB cable to run Oculus Link was already on the market, but found none. "Either the cables weren't long enough. Or some of them were heavy. Or they couldn't deliver a smooth, great experience. Thus we developed Oculus Link cable," he said.
The custom Oculus Link cable will be go on sale on the Oculus website some time later this year. It'll be a USB-C to C cord. Users with older PCs can use a third-party USB-C to USB-A 3 cable to enable Oculus Link. Although bringing Rift-based games to the Quest has been a much sought-after feature, designing the capability wasn't easy. In the same talk, Facebook engineers explained they had to overcome the challenge of reducing latency and maintaining the VR image quality as a Rift game streams from the PC to the Quest.

To run the games, the PC will do the heavy lifting and render the high-quality VR graphics. However, all that data has to be encoded and sent to the Quest headset, which then decodes and displays the game experience in the headset. As this happens, the player's commands have to be sent back to the PC, resulting in a process that can produce slow responsiveness and low frame rates.

The VR Cardboard launched by Google was a Side Project developed by David Coz and Damien Henry. They created this project during the Google’s “Innovation Time Off” program in which developers were encouraged to spend 20 percent of their time on the things of their interest.

"We had to be creative in designing a pipeline in maintaining a VR experience while delivering full content," Bastani said. So to make the visuals easier to unpack, the Oculus Link capability can scale down the image quality streaming from the Rift games, but only partially. The pixel density will only be lowered on the edges of the VR image, not in the center. As a result, consumers probably won't notice the dip in resolution. "This distorted image is smaller in total resolution, but hasn't lost quality where it matters most," Facebook graphics architect Reza Nourai said. Other changes were made to accelerate the encoding and decoding process to keep latency low.

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