The Meta Quest VR headsets are brilliant standalone VR systems packed with accessible games and experiences, but these affordable VR machines can do much more than you may realize. These are ten of the coolest features you should try today.
1. Mixed Reality
The cameras on the outside of the Quest headset were originally meant for nothing more than environmental tracking, but now they can be used for Mixed Reality (MR) applications as well. Depending on the app, this means that you can bring real-world objects into VR. The Quest itself allows you to see your real-world couch in VR, and pair and track a limited number of keyboard models. Apps like PianoVision let you play a real piano in VR, learning as you go.
2. The Passthrough Mode Shortcut
Unlike some VR headsets, the Quest headsets don’t have a halo-strap system with a flip-up mechanism. This is good for portability but not great when you quickly need to leave VR to deal with something in the real world.
Luckily you can quickly switch to “Passthrough” mode while using your Quest by double-tapping the side of the headset. This will show you the world through the exterior cameras. It’s a little weird, but it’s the easiest way to switch between VR and the real world. The double-tap feature isn’t on by default, so you’ll have to enable it first.
3. Hand Tracking
The Touch controllers that come with the Quest are great, but you can ditch them entirely and use your bare hands to navigate the Quest UI and even play a few games. After you’ve enabled hand-tracking you’ll find that many non-gaming apps, such as web browsers, or streaming video are much more comfortable to use if you don’t have to fumble for a controller all the time. There are also a few brilliant games built around this feature, offering an entirely different kind of VR immersion.
4. PC VR!
The best thing about the Quest is that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a powerful gaming PC to use it. It’s a self-contained system with its own software. However, if you happen to own a powerful PC or get one later, you can connect your Quest to it for the full PC-VR experience.
The feature is known as Link, and using it is as easy as installing the Quest software on your computer and then connecting the Quest using a USB-C cable or wirelessly over Wi-Fi.
5. High Refresh Rates (for Quest 2)
A fast refresh rate can make a big difference to the VR experience, but by default, the Quest 2 is locked to 90Hz. This is enough for a great sense of immersion, but the actual display panel in the headset can go faster. You can enable 120Hz mode under the Quest’s Experimental Features section under Settings.
This will impact battery life, but there are a few Quest games that take advantage of this refresh rate. If you’re using your Quest for PC VR with a USB-C cable, battery life concerns obviously don’t apply.
6. Keyboard and Controller Support
We mentioned that the Quest headsets could be paired with some models of Bluetooth keyboard above, but you can also pair a gamepad to your Quest, which will work with certain games and apps. For example, you can use a controller with Tetris Effect or Virtual Desktop. Just follow the steps to pair a gamepad, and you’re set.
7. Fitness Tracking
There are many great fitness apps on Quest, and VR is a great way to stay active even when you’re not playing something specifically meant as exercise. So it makes sense that Meta added a feature called Oculus Move to track how much exercise you’re getting while in VR. Best of all, if you use an iPhone or Apple Watch to track your fitness, you can sync your Quest data directly to Apple Health. Quest Move can be found in your VR app library.
8. Voice Commands
Navigating VR in a Quest is pretty intuitive, but why use your hands when you can just say what you want to happen? Like a smartphone, Quest has voice commands you can activate by turning the option on in the Settings menu or your Quick Settings panel. From there, you can say “Hey Facebook’ or double-press the right controller Quest button and then use a command from an extensive list for social media, apps, taking captures, controlling the device, and even FAQs.
9. Mobile Mixed Reality Capture
It’s cool to cast your VR viewpoint to the Meta app so that others can see what you’re seeing, but what’s even cooler is projecting yourself into VR and then capturing that on video. If you have a supported iPhone model and VR game, you can stream or record videos of yourself in VR, although you will need the help of a friend to do the camera work!
10. Casting to a TV
Casting your Quest to the Meta app is great, but you can only share your experience with a limited number of people huddled around your tiny phone screen. The good news is that you can cast your Quest 2 to any Chromecast or Chromecast-compatible TV or device.
The Google Chromecast is a simple device that acts as a bridge between your TV and any number of devices and apps that support the Chromecast standard.
More Features Are Coming
The engineers at Meta seem to be constantly coming up with new ways to use the existing hardware on Quest Headsets. Third-party app developers are also constantly innovating within the capabilities of these devices, so we’re sure it won’t be long before even more amazing features make their debut on these affordable VR systems.
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