This article was updated September 27 to include the findings of two YouTubers. The original article was published September 25.
The Screenshot Leaks
The leaked shots appear to be from a Facebook Workplace video conference, based on the user interface visible in the first image. Workplace is Facebook’s Slack & Microsoft Teams competitor. That might suggest this leak originated either from within Facebook or from a developer with early hardware access using Workplace as their remote work solution.
Unlike all Oculus Touch controllers to date, no infrared LED ring is present in these shots.
Instead three cameras (one on the top face and two on the side) are visible, likely for independent inside-out tracking using computer vision.
The Reddit Leaker
On Wednesday Reddit user Samulia posted purported low resolution renders of “Oculus Seacliff Controllers”. Seacliff is a hardware codename present in the Oculus Quest firmware since at least August 2020.
At the time we didn’t think much of it, because moderator-verified Oculus employee Reddit user AmitOculus commented “Just FYI that we do a lot of internal prototyping before we release final products. I have another quite different prototype.” – but the newly leaked video conference screenshots raise the credibility of Samulia’s leak.
As others have noticed, Samulia also posted a comment on Tuesday claiming to have had a “realistic and detailed dream” about the display type and exact models of camera sensors used in “Seacliff/Arcata Standalone Headset”.
The display is allegedly a Dual-Cell LCD from BOE with the same resolution as Quest 2 but an advanced backlight with pixel-level control, enabling OLED-like black levels without OLED’s black smear or manufacturability issues.
There are allegedly three sensors on the exterior of the headset. A 4K 120FPS RGB camera for color passthrough & mixed reality, and two side-facing 1K near-infrared 120FPS cameras with laser constellation projection. This side facing sensor system is listed as used for head tracking, hand tracking, and controller tracking. And as with the later screenshot leaks, the controller was said to track itself using onboard IR cameras.
The use of laser constellation projection could suggest that the controller locates itself relative to the projected pattern, which the headset knows the position of and so can translate this to its own coordinate space. Samulia also claimed the controllers as having precise finger position sensing, triple haptics (main, trigger, pinch) and a fingerprint sensor.
As well as the exterior sensors there are allegedly two 480p 120FPS eye tracking cameras and two 400p 120FPS face tracking cameras. References to face & eye tracking calibration were found in the public Oculus Quest firmware earlier this month.
The same Oculus employee on Reddit that claimed to have “a very different” prototype commented again to caution “Aspirations and final products are sometimes different things.” – this seems to suggest not all these features will actually land in the product.
Firmware Findings Corroborate
On Sunday YouTuber Basti564 – known for finding upcoming features in Oculus firmware on multiple occasions – posted a new video backing up Samulia with firmware findings revealing the same sensor configuration as claimed and the same “Seacliff” codename.
This suggests either Samulia had insider knowledge, or is using the same firmware decompiling methodology as Basti but without revealing so.
Basti also found references to Seacliff having two cooling fans, up from one in Quest 2. The primary CPU cores in Quest 2 are actually underclocked. Better cooling could allow for significant improvement in CPU clock speed, and perhaps even GPU overclocking too.
YouTuber SadlyItsBradley also sleuthed through Oculus firmware files and found references to two new display models, a DualCell BOE panel (backing up Samulia’s claims) and a much higher resolution OLED microdisplay. Bradley thinks this means two new headsets will be announced at Connect, but this could also simply be Facebook trailing multiple prototypes before choosing which will go into mass production, as happened with Quest 2.
A Truly High End Product?
The Starlet controllers, if real and as described, could be a step forward for VR controller tracking, letting the controllers stay tracked even when behind the headset but without the need for external base stations.
In a public conversation with Facebook’s soon-to-be CTO Andrew Bosworth back in April, “Consulting Oculus CTO” John Carmack cautioned “I’m happy to have some Pro version that’s going exploring every sensor in the kitchen sink. I just think that you’ll wind up with 1/10th of the users on there and we should be about kind of maximizing the user base.”
Bosworth referred to “Quest Pro” in that conversation and not “Quest 2 Pro”, and so did the firmware leaks. This along with the apparent varied sensor suite including laser projectors, a 4K passthrough camera and onboard controller cameras suggest Facebook may use Quest Pro as a VR tech showcase and development kit for new features, which may not all make it into a future Quest 3 sold at a mass market price.
Quest Pro could be, for the first time since the original Oculus Rift, a headset meant to push the boundaries of what’s possible instead of optimizing for low cost. And if the rumors from multiple sources are true, it could be directly facing off against Apple as early as next year.
We reached out to Facebook for comment and will update this article if we get a response.