The Oculus founder proposes a new metric for VR headset comfort

Image: Meta

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What metric should the VR industry use to give an idea of ​​how comfortable a VR headset is? Palmer Luckey has a suggestion.

Meta Quest 3 is due out in a few weeks and, of course, the new headset has already been compared to its predecessor. On Twitter this week, VR enthusiasts discussed the size and weight of the device.

The Quest 3 is significantly thinner than the Quest 2 thanks to the pancake lenses, but the weight won’t change much. According to an anonymous developer, the new Quest headset weighs 509 grams. That’s 6 grams heavier than the Quest 2. But the device still feels lighter (thanks to the slimmer profile), wrote journalist Mark Gurman, who has reportedly tested the Quest 3.

Quest 2 and Quest 3 without face interface side by side.

According to Meta, the Quest 3’s chassis is 40 percent thinner than that of the Quest 2, not counting the face interfaces. | Image: Meta

If the two headphones weigh roughly the same but have different levels of comfort, it’s clear that weight alone isn’t an objective measure of comfort.

Newton meters instead of grams

The Oculus founder jumped into the discussion with an unusual suggestion. “HMD should stop marketing weight in grams and start marketing neck torque in newton-meters,” Luckey wrote on Twitter.

Since the Quest 3 protrudes less from the face than the Quest 2, the Newton meters should also be lower. This would make it easier on the neck and more comfortable, despite being almost the same weight. If the battery could be placed behind the head instead of in front, the neck would be relieved even more (which would introduce other design compromises).

Of course, Luckey’s proposed metric cannot capture all aspects of comfort: the headband and facial interface may feel uncomfortable for some people, depending on individual factors such as head shape and personal preferences.

However, it would provide an objective point of reference that may have medical relevance. Especially since there are huge differences between VR headsets in terms of shape and weight: from lightweight mini earphones like the Bigscreen Beyond (127 grams) to oversized monsters like the Pimax Crystal, which weighs more than 800 grams. The question is whether the average consumer understands what Newton meters are.

Far from the only point of contention

Comfort isn’t the only feature of VR headsets that are difficult to objectify and quantify. Even when it comes to visual qualitythe sector is still struggling to find consistent and accurate metrics.

The resolution of a display is just one of many factors that affect visual quality, as headphones use lenses and their effect on image quality is large. That’s why Meta suggested measuring sharpness as well.

In his proposal Meta deliberately excluded field of view, avoiding one of the biggest points of contention in the industry. In fact, there is still no industry-wide standard for measuring the field of view of VR headsets. The values ​​that headphone manufacturers provide in their specifications should therefore be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism.

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