Meta Releases Anti-piracy Tools for Quest Devs, Including Hardware-based App Bans & More

Meta announced it’s introducing new anti-piracy measures for Quest developers that the company says will protect VR apps from “unauthorized modifications and potential security breaches.”

Called the Platform Integrity Attestation API (Attestation API), Meta says its new system is designed to detect whether an app’s server is interacting with an untampered VR device, thereby ensuring whether an app is authentic or not.

The Attestation API includes things like secure device authentication, hardware-based app bans, protection of financial and enterprise app data, prevention of external data misuse, and other anti-piracy measures.

In a developer blogpost, Meta calls it “increasingly important to instill a consistent method for validating the integrity of apps in order to provide a secure and safe user experience for everyone.”

It remains to be seen what effects this will have on modding communities, since modders for Quest games such as Beat Saber may inadvertently run afoul of the new token system at the core of the Attestation API.

“Once integrated, the API will provide you with an ‘attestation token,’ which you can use to determine if an app running on a Meta device has been tampered with,” Meta says. “This token is cryptographically signed by the Attestation Server to reinforce the security and reliability of the attestation process.”

At the time of this writing, we have not yet received a response for comment from Meta on what effects it may have on those communities. We’ll update this piece when/if we do.

Meta is allowing developers to opt-in now for their Quest apps, which spans Quest 2, Quest Pro, and the upcoming Quest 3, whcih is slated to launch in late 2023. Meta has published documentation for both Unity and Native.

OpenXR Toolkit Brings Quest Pro Foveated Rendering To PC VR Link

OpenXR Toolkit added eye-tracked foveated rendering support for Meta Quest Pro.

As the name suggests, OpenXR Toolkit improves and adds features to PC VR titles that use the OpenXR open standard API. That includes Microsoft Flight Simulator, iRacing, the open beta branch of DCS World, War Thunder (though not with EAC), the Steam version of Bonelab, Hubris, Everslaught, Contractors, The Light Brigade, and A Township Tale.

Additionally, you can use OpenComposite to translate OpenVR (SteamVR) games to OpenXR, enabling support for games like American Truck Simulator, Assetto Corsa Competizione, Dirt Rally 2, Elite Dangerous, F1 2022, Pavlov, and Subnautica.

Some users have reported that it even works with praydog’s Unreal Engine VR injector, the tool that adds basic VR support to certain non-VR Unreal Engine titles, including in Returnal, Atomic Heart, and STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen Order.

Eye-tracked foveated rendering is a technique where only the small region of the display your eyes are currently looking at is rendered in full resolution, thus freeing up performance since the rest is lower resolution. Freed up GPU resources can be used for better performance, to increase rendering resolution, or to increase graphics settings. It leverages the fact that our eyes only see in high resolution in the very center of the fovea.

OpenXR Toolkit has supported eye-tracked foveated rendering for Varjo Aero and Pimax’s eye-tracking add-on since last year. Now the latest update supports this feature on Quest Pro too. You’ll need to use the official Link, Air Link or Air Bridge, because Virtual Desktop doesn’t yet pass through eye tracking.

To ensure eye tracking data is passed over Link, enable the setting in the Beta tab of the Oculus PC app.

The toolkit’s developer Matthieu Bucchianeri notes there is a bug in the Oculus software preventing eye tracking from passing through for some users. If you’re experiencing this, you should see a “xrCreateEyeTrackerFB() failed with XR_ERROR_RUNTIME_FAILURE” error in the OpenXR Toolkit log file. As this is an Oculus blog, if you experience it you should report it to Meta. 

You can download OpenXR Toolkit and find installation instructions on its website.

Apple Announces June Event Where It Will Reportedly Unveil Its Headset

Apple announced WWDC23 will take place June 5-9.

Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is a yearly developer-focused Apple event where upcoming versions of its operating systems and SDKs are revealed, and sometimes new Mac hardware too.

In recent years WWDC has been fully remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year Apple will host a “special in-person experience at Apple Park on June 5″ too.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman wrote in February that Apple’s rumored AR/VR headset is set to be unveiled at WWDC23, and he’s sticking by that reporting today. This matches what prominent supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed in December.

Some have noted that Apple’s teaser image for the event resembles a VR headset lens.

The Information Apple VR

Apple’s headset has reportedly been in development for more than 5 years now. Last year The Information published an investigative report detailing the product’s troubled development and changing form factor. The report outlined an evolution from a thin client wirelessly paired with a custom console to a fully standalone device covered with sensors and an external display showing the wearer’s eyes.

In August an Apple-linked company filed to trademark ‘Reality One’, ‘Reality Pro’, and ‘Reality Processor’, suggesting the headset and its processor will be branded Apple Reality. Gurman previously reported Apple is working on a VR client for FaceTime with face tracking for driving avatars, a VR version of Maps, spatial versions of Notes and Calendar, the ability to view a Mac’s display in-headset, and AR/VR tools for developers.

The Information and Gurman have previously reported the product will be priced around $3000. Kuo claimed it will weigh noticeably less than current VR headsets and feature high resolution OLED microdisplays, while The Information has claimed it will be powered by the M2 chip seen in the latest MacBooks and feature hand tracking, eye tracking, face tracking, leg tracking and iris scanning for logins and payments. 

Quest Pro Rumored Apple Reality 
Field of View 106° 120°
Lens Separation Guided Manual Automatic
Screen Type QD-LCD w/ Mini-LED Micro OLED
Resolution Per Eye <2K ~4K
Chipset Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 1 (7nm) Apple M2 (5nm)
Passthrough Low Resolution High Resolution
Room Meshing 𐄂
Eye Tracking
Face Tracking
Hand Tracking
Leg Tracking 𐄂
Battery Location Back Padding Waist Tethered
Battery Life 1-3 Hours 2 Hours
External Display 𐄂
2D Native Apps Android (sideloaded) iOS (via store)
Price $1000 ~$3000

So if the reports are to be believed, Apple’s product will have higher resolution, a more powerful processor, more features, and a slimmer design than Meta’s Quest Pro – though at perhaps three times the price.

Quest Pro v51 Adds Local Dimming To PC Link, Significantly Enhancing Contrast

The v51 Quest system software update adds local dimming to Link mode on Quest Pro.

Most LCD panels have at most a few LEDs backlighting the entire display, severely limiting the contrast between dark and bright regions. You’ve probably noticed they show dark grey instead of true black. In VR this notably hampers the visual believability of virtual nighttime and experiences set in space.

The main advantage of OLED (eg. PlayStation VR2 and BigScreen Beyond) over LCD is there are no backlights – each pixel is self-illuminating, enabling effectively unlimited contrast and true blacks.

LCDs with local dimming, such as the Quest Pro panels, offer a middle-ground solution. They have many backlights to control brightness in zones – in Quest Pro’s case over 500 mini LEDs.

led local dimming

However, local dimming on Quest Pro is opt-in per-app. App developers have to enable it. Otherwise all 500+ backlights will act together with the same brightness as if a regular LCD. This includes the Link and Air Link PC VR modes – but that’s changing with system software v51. The Public Test Channel build of v51 has local dimming enabled by default for Link and Air Link.

Quest Pro owner spam panini, enrolled in the Public Test Channel, posted a through-the-lens video to YouTube comparing local dimming enabled and disabled in Link and 3rd party open-source Link alternative AXVR which already supported local dimming. Just keep in mind that through-the-lens camera videos like these aren’t fully representative of what you’d actually see wearing a headset, especially given YouTube’s compression.

There is a noticeable disadvantage to all local dimming displays though: blooming. Since the backlight resolution is so much lower than the color resolution – on Quest Pro just 500 mini LEDs for almost 4 million pixels – dark-colored pixels adjacent to light ones will often also be illuminated. Mini LED is a big step over traditional LCD, but is not a full substitute for OLED.

Pico 4 US Launch Reportedly Halted At Last Minute Due To The TikTok Hearing

ByteDance reportedly halted the US launch of Pico 4 due to the TikTok hearing.

On Monday Pico seemingly teased a big announcement on Twitter, writing “A new journey begins” on “22 March 2023” with the hashtag #PICO4. But come Wednesday, nothing was announced.

The Verge’s Sean Hollister reports a Pico employee told him the company planned to release Pico 4 in the US, but decided to wait because of the congressional hearing regarding a possible ban or forced sale of TikTok. The hearing was announced on Wednesday and took place on Thursday. US lawmakers are concerned about possible Chinese government access to user data and influence over the content recommendation algorithm. ByteDance, the Chinese tech giant behind TikTok, acquired Pico in 2021.

Pico 4 launched in October as the first serious competitor to Meta’s Quest 2, but it’s currently not officially sold in North America. It’s powered by the same Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1 processor used in Quest 2 but has a range of improvements: a slimmer and lighter design, higher resolution, wider and taller field of view, color passthrough, precise motorized lens separation, and controllers with high fidelity haptics.

While a significant chunk of Quest’s content library has been ported over, ByteDance has yet to offer standalone exclusive titles to match the likes of Meta’s Beat Saber, Resident Evil 4, Population: ONE, Onward, and Iron Man VR. Pico announced its first major exclusive, Just Dance VR, last year, set for a 2023 release.

Omni One VR Treadmill Begins Shipping To Early Investors

Virtuix revealed the final version of its Omni One VR treadmill, which is now shipping to early investors.

Following a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2020, the consumer-focused Omni One has been a long time coming. Originally targeting the second half of 2021, Jan Goetgeluk, Virtuix CEO and founder, claims they faced a “challenging development process,” citing issues relating to COVID-19 and supply chain shortages.

Virtuix claims high interest in the Omni One, with a “waitlist” of more than 35,000 expressing interest ahead of a wider consumer launch later this year. 900 of Virtuix’s crowdfunding investors have applied for an Omni One beta unit, with the wider release to follow once the beta program ends in late 2023, claims Virtuix. You can view the finalised design below:

Taking inspiration from Virtuix’s commercial Omni Pro VR treadmill, the Omni One is designed as a more compact option designed to fit inside your living room, where it functions as a complete entertainment unit. Previously shown with a Pico Neo 2, Virtuix is pairing the final version with a Pico Neo 3 Pro standalone headset, which includes a unique operating system, social features and “a proprietary game store targeting 30 titles at launch.”

Virtuix claims Omni One will receive a wider consumer launch later this year, releasing at an introductory cost of $2,595 plus shipping (which includes the Pico Neo 3 Pro). Virtuix claims unit quantities will “start small and gradually increase as the program proceeds.”

Virtuix ‘Omni One’ VR Treadmill Now Shipping to Early Investors

Virtuix, the company behind the Omni VR treadmill, launched a crowd-based investment campaign in 2020 to fund Virtuix Omni One, an at-home VR locomotion device targeted at consumers. Now the studio has revealed the final version, pricing, and the news that it’s  now shipping out to early investors.

Omni One units are now headed out to early investors (re: not backers) prior to the device’s planned consumer launch, which is said to arrive at some point later this year.

The company says its currently has a waitlist for Omni One of “more than 35,000 subscribers.”

Here’s a look at what Virtuix says is the final version of the hardware:

Virtuix says 900 of its equity crowdfunding investors have applied to buy Omni One beta units, which will be extended to late 2023, however unit quantities will “start small and gradually increase as the program proceeds.”

Similar to other parabolic VR ‘treadmills’, Omni One requires you to wear special low-friction shoes and strap into a harness system which keeps you in the center of the base’s parabola.

And although marketed as a consumer-targeted device, Omni One’s introductory price will be $2,595 plus shipping, which also includes the Pico Neo 3 Pro standalone headset. The company is however also offering a financing plan that could bring it to as low as $65 per month.

Over its lifetime, Virtuix has raised $35 million. The company says it’s now shipped over $16 million worth of products, which includes over 4,000 Omni Pro systems across 45 countries, and than 70 Omni Arena systems to US venues such as Dave & Buster’s.

HTC Teases Self-Tracking Tracker That Doesn’t Need Base Stations

HTC teased a self-tracking Vive Tracker that doesn’t need base stations.

Vive Trackers are used by businesses in bespoke VR software to track real-world objects, and by VRChat users to track body parts such as their torso, eblow, legs, and feet.

The current Vive Tracker 3.0 shipped in 2021. It’s priced at $130 but requires SteamVR Tracking base stations, available from $135 each.

The new ‘Self-Tracking Tracker’ is set to launch in Q3 of this year. It has two wide field of view cameras and an onboard processor to perform inside-out positional tracking, like a Quest Pro controller without any buttons, triggers, haptics, or sticks. This means it doesn’t need base stations nor to be within view of a headset’s cameras.

It will connect to a specific USB-C dongle, which HTC says will support up to 5 trackers at once. It will support the OpenXR standard, so won’t require a HTC headset.

HTC claims it weighs under 100 grams and is approximately 50% smaller than Vive Tracker 3.0. However, it won’t replace Vive Tracker 3.0 – it will be sold alongside it. Typically camera-based inside-out tracking doesn’t work well in plain rooms with no high-contrast features or in low light, while base stations work in almost any environment.

Like previous Vive Trackers, it will support standard 1/4” threaded screw mounting, the same used by cameras and speakers. There’s also a new magnetically-attaching clip mount, and HTC says it will release the CAD files so people can 3D print their own mounts.

HTC says the Self-Tracking Tracker is still in the development phase and didn’t announce a price.

PSVR 2 Has ‘Good Chance’ Of Outselling Original PSVR, Claims Sony CFO

Sony believes there’s a “good chance” PSVR 2 can outsell its predecessor, according to its Chief Financial Officer.

Following a high-profile launch late last month, Sony hasn’t released PSVR 2 sales figures yet but it’s already talking up favorable comparisons to the original headset. Launched in 2016 for PS4, Sony last reported that PSVR sold 5 million units as of December 31, 2019 and, unsurprisingly, chief financial officer Hiroki Totoki believes its new PS5-powered headset can exceed this.

Speaking in a fireside chat at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference last week (reported by VGC), Totoki was questioned about PSVR 2 launch and sales expectations. “We are very happy to launch VR2 on PS5,” he stated, not revealing any specifics. “VR1, we sold over five million units, and I think we have a good chance to exceed that amount with PlayStation VR2.”

It may ease fears following Bloomberg’s January report that Sony was disappointed in the headset’s pre-orders, leading to reduced shipments. Sony later denied this report, claiming “we have not cut PlayStation VR2 production numbers” in a prepared statement to UploadVR. While Totoki’s statement about PSVR 2’s chances is vague, it’s worth remembering that the market has changed significantly since 2016.

PSVR 2 arguably targets the higher end VR market from 2023, with features like eye-tracking support and advanced haptic feedback. It also sells for a higher introductory price at $550 – more than the PS5 console itself, which starts at $400. The original PSVR was designed during modern VR’s infancy and developed over last few years of PS4’s lifecycle. It made use of controllers from the PS3 era and initially sold for $400.

The original PSVR headset was cheaper than competing Rift and Vive headsets, and it wasn’t competing with Meta Quest 2, either. Though Meta and Sony are targeting different ends of the market, Meta’s recently leaked internal roadmap confirmed that Quest has sold nearly 20 million units, putting Quest as a platform significantly ahead of PSVR. Most PSVR 2 launch games are also available on Meta’s flagship headset, barring first-party exclusives like Horizon Call of the Mountain, so convincing VR buyers to pick PSVR 2 instead of Quest 2 is challenging task for Sony.

Totoki’s statements didn’t end there. Discussing the wider VR market, he reportedly called it “one of the largest growth areas” in the media and entertainment sector for the first half of this decade. Claiming there’s “good potential” for the VR/AR market, VGC’s report also cites Totoki stating there’s “good potential of technology development in this field as well”.

Will Meta Continue To Sell Quest 2 Alongside Quest 3?

Meta’s CTO had some interesting words to say about the market lifespan of Quest 2.

While discussing Quest Pro’s price cut in an Instagram AMA (Ask Me Anything) session today, Andrew Bosworth said:

“I think the Quest Pro’s going to be in-market a good long time. That’s actually how we designed it; we wanted it to be in market a good long time.

By the way, the Quest 2 will continue to be in-market a good while longer as well. More on that later.”

Earlier this week The Verge reported that Meta’s VP of VR Mark Rabkin told staff in an internal presentation that Quest 3 – launching later this year – will cost “a bit more” than Quest 2 currently does. CEO Mark Zuckerberg had previously said Quest 3 will be “in the price range of $300, $400, or $500, that zone”, suggesting $500 as the likely starting price.

That leaves room for a lower cost of entry headset sitting below Quest 3. Rabkin reportedly spoke of a new cheap headset coming in 2024 “at the most attractive price point in the VR consumer market.”

Might Bosworth’s comment point to the possibility that Quest 2 will continue to be sold, presumably with a price cut, until the 2024 headset is ready?