Oculus' John Carmack: "there are things you just can't make work on Quest"

Oculus' latest standalone Quest VR HMD may be a solid technological evolution, but that doesn't necessarily mean the sky is the limit.

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Oculus CTO and games industry legend John Carmack took to the stage at today's OC5 keynote to provide some rather surprising feedback regarding the current state of the company's technology. In stark contrast to the lofty aspirations provided by Michael Abrash, Carmack hit the stage with some real-world criticisms and bottom-line facts about Oculus tech, including thoughts about what the Quest can and cannot do.

When speaking about the rendering possibilities of the quest, Carmack stated that rendering tens of millions of polygons on the Quest frankly isn't possible. Taking this idea even further, he said that "there are things you just can't make work on Quest."

This came up during a rather scattered discussion of pass-through features on the Quest, something that Carmack believes will play an important role in how VR fits into consumers' lives. As opposed to strict isolation — which he's personally a fan of — Carmack sees the idea of pass-through as "understanding the world more than just passing it through."

The idea is that VR technology can be used to supplement the sights and sounds of normal life as opposed to overwriting them. This is a core concept behind Oculus' latest headsets: Carmack stated that there's an internal project for the Oculus Go that works specifically on pass-through technology. As for the newly-revealed Quest, Carmack stated those projects are merely "secondary."

According to Carmack's keynote speech, it's "unlikely" that pass-through features will be available on the Oculus Quest when it begins shipping next spring. All of the device's features are still subject to change, of course, and considering Carmack's rather loose approach to criticizing the company's hardware, we won't be surprised if some sort of pass-through functions make it onto the headset.

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