Rumored Oculus Quest 2 Update Could Mean Smoother VR, Experts Say

Now with less motion sickness

Key Takeaways

  • The Oculus Quest 2 is rumored to get a software update that would make images much easier to see.
  • Updating the Oculus’s screens to 120hz would substantially improve the current 90hz refresh rate offered by the headset, observers say.
  • Motion sickness can be a problem when using virtual reality headsets, and faster refresh rates could help.
Woman using Virtual Reality headset in the city
Kilito Chan / Getty Images

A rumored software upgrade to the Oculus Quest 2 could make the virtual world much easier to see on the headset.

During a recent Q&A on Instagram, Andrew "Boz" Bosworth, vice president at Facebook Reality Labs, which makes the headset, gave a thumbs up when asked if the Oculus Quest 2 would get an upgrade to a 120hz refresh rate. The update would be a significant improvement over the current 90hz refresh rate offered by the headset, observers say.

"A high refresh rate doesn't just mean a smoother experience, but a more immersive one, and the jump to 120hz is substantial enough to have a real-world effect," Kaelum Ross, a former VR professional at Fujitsu, said in an email interview. "For nauseous VR users, this is also really exciting news, as a higher refresh rate can dramatically decrease motion sickness."

More Speed, Less Motion Sickness

Ross said he experienced firsthand the dramatic difference a higher refresh rate can make. "I've seen this demonstrated in real-time where people could use a 144hz Valve Index without getting sick in a demo, but could not use a 90hz Vive Pro," he added.

"A higher refresh rate can dramatically decrease motion sickness."

The Quest 2 already can run a 120hz refresh rate, but Facebook has hesitated to let applications run at this speed because it might hurt battery life. Despite the rumored upgrade, users should temper their expectations, Ross warned.

"Oculus has undoubtedly put some work into optimization, but 90hz support was added in November, and many popular titles still do not support that, so don't expect 120hz for all of your apps," he added. "We are very much expecting a system for you to choose between 90hz and 120hz. This would be ideal, as having the option to alternate between the two (depending on the title) would be the best outcome."

Beating the Competition

The upgraded refresh rate would put the Quest 2 amongst the most advanced VR headsets and "would no doubt start tongues wagging about the kind of performance consumers can expect on the already-rumored Quest 3," Ray Walsh, a tech reviewer at cybersecurity website ProPrivacy, said in an email interview.

Most VR headsets meant for consumers currently run at a refresh rate of 90Hz or below, Lyron Bentovim, president and CEO of augmented and virtual reality company The Glimpse Group, said in an email interview. "The upgrade will allow for a much more bright and vivid display, making VR more immersive and for a more comfortable experience," he said.

Child wearing a virtual reality headset while over a city at night
real444 / Getty Images

The Oculus’ most significant competition is the Valve Index, which has the better field of view and resolution, but one of the big selling points for most people over the Quest 2 was its 144hz refresh rate, Ross said. 

"A 120hz upgrade would really close this gap, and the Quest 2 is not only dramatically cheaper, but also works standalone, so we would really anticipate this shifting a lot of people enough to choose Oculus as their next headset," he added.

"We are very much expecting a system for you to choose between 90hz and 120hz."

Chad Barnsdale, a self-described early adopter and owner of the rival HTC Vive since 2016, said in an email interview that he expects the refresh upgrade to allow more people to enjoy the Oculus. Motion sickness can be a problem when using virtual reality headsets, and faster refresh rates could help, he said.

"Users can expect significantly improved motion, by which I mean that their own movements and that of objects in the world will look smoother," Barnsdale said. "This is key to immersion, but more importantly helps reduce nausea for those that are susceptible to VR sickness. This means more people can enjoy VR. At this price point, none of their competitors compare. The closest would be the Valve Index, which costs consumers four times as much."

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