Virtual reality has come quite a long ways since the initial release of the first Oculus Rift all the way back in 2016. Since then, we’ve seen many new devices and technologies such as the Oculus Rift 2, HTC Vive, Valve Index, Oculus Quest, Oculus GO, and now the Oculus Quest 2 – the most advanced and affordable major virtual reality option on the market right now. Unfortunately, it looks like virtual reality is still stuck at about 80-90Hz display refresh rates. This is to deal with issues of excess heat and power consumption in the same way that mobile devices such as phones and tablets do: the system temporarily slows down the device to reduce power consumption and allow the device to cool, however this inevitably leads to a reduction in the frame rates as well as display refresh rates. Now it looks like the Oculus Quest 2 is getting an experimental patch that would boost the maximum refresh rate of the device all the way up to 120 Hz as soon as this month.
120 Hz Oculus Quest 2?
Yep, in order to compete with the Valve Index, it looks like Oculus is planning an experimental update that will allow the Oculus Quest 2 to run at a maximum 120 Hz refresh rate. As of now, this is just a test to ‘see how it goes,’ but I know a lot of virtual reality fans are eager and hoping that this turns out to be a great addition.
Future of Virtual Reality
If this 120 Hz update for Oculus Quest 2 turns out to be a great update and works (mostly) without a hitch, I think we’re in for a new world of virtual reality as it continues to push the limits of what we thought possible. A 120 Hz Oculus Quest 2 would mean that the system is even more immersive than it was before, and would allow for a much more smooth gameplay experience than we’ve ever seen in a virtual reality device – even the Valve Index which will also support an even higher 144Hz refresh rate in its own experimental mode, but it still needs to be connected to a PC to run. The Oculus Quest 2 would be the first virtual reality headset to be completely wireless and able to function at 120 Hz at the same time. Maybe we’ll even get to see even higher refresh rates that push into 240 Hz and above? That may be a stretch, but I almost guarantee that within a few years, the technology will be there and we’ll see even more significant developments for virtual reality in the near future.
When Does the Update Release?
According to the official Oculus Developer roadmap, we can see that within the upcoming 3 months, there is an entry titled “120Hz Refresh Support (EXPERIMENTAL)” listed for March 2021. The official roadmap states “This release offers experimental support for 120Hz refresh rates only for apps that support it. The feature will happen in two parts – API support for devs, Experimental Settings toggle to enable 120Hz and user being able to toggle 120Hz for supported apps.” So it doesn’t look like everything will be supported under this update, but my guess is that most developers will want to support this in most, if not all, of their software, in order to keep up with the latest and greatest virtual reality technologies. While the experimental version of the update is currently set to release in March 2021, the full release of this support for 120Hz on the Oculus Quest 2 is still probably a long ways away.
Personally, I can’t wait to try out this higher refresh rate on the Oculus Quest 2, I’ve been able to get my hands on one of the devices for a brief period to test out the new SimX nursing education system (you can check out my piece on that here), but I’ve been looking into seeing if I can get my hands on an Oculus Quest 2 for myself. I loved the device, it was comfortable, it was pretty seamless, and I love the fact that it has cameras on the outside of the headset, so you can see what you’re doing in order to pick up your Oculus Touch Controllers. It was a bit of a strange experience actually hopping into it for the first time, because I had previously been used to the original Oculus Rift and I was still in “tethered mode” if you will, where I had to remind myself that I wasn’t attached to a PC and I wouldn’t get caught in any cables; I was free to walk around wherever I wanted to. I’m excited for this new 120Hz update and I can’t wait to try it out for myself soon.