Facebook‘s first standalone wireless VR headset, the Oculus Go, was launched in 2018. Unfortunately, it was retired in 2020, meaning anyone who bought one was basically only renting it for a couple of years. Or were they…?
John Carmack, who some of you might recognise as the chap who gave the world iD Software, Doom, Wolfenstein and Quake, is the current consulting chief technology officer for Oculus. He’s also the chap who dropped the news on Twitter that Oculus is unlocking the software on the now-defunct headsets, so modders can repurpose the no-longer-supported hardware.
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Oculus Go and do what you want
This opens up the ability to repurpose the hardware for more things today, and means that a randomly discovered shrink wrapped headset twenty years from now will be able to update to the final software version, long after over-the-air update servers have been shut down.
— John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) September 24, 2021
Long story short, the folks at Oculus are planning to drop a new version of the Go’s operating system that is intended to be side-loaded. This skips the whole pesky ‘needing a working server’ problem while allowing modders and anyone else who still owns one of Facebook’s early VR headsets to gain root access. From there, it’s just a small matter of taking over the world! Or just doing whatever the heck you want with your low-powered VR hardware, we guess. That seems like the more sensible course of action.
The software isn’t ready just yet and Facebook hasn’t figured out exactly how it’ll be distributed but Carmack reckons that it’ll turn up on the Oculus website fairly soon. Unfortunately, the software update only applies to the Go (so the first Quest is still in limbo) but Carmack said that he hopes “…this is a precedent for when headsets go unsupported in the future”, adding that “…getting all the necessary permissions for this involved SO much more effort [than] you would expect.”