The Meta Quest 3 keeps me from crying in the kitchen

Wearing a Meta Quest 3 while chopping onions
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)
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In his weekly column, Android Central Senior Content Producer Nick Sutrich delves into all things VR, from new hardware to new games, upcoming technologies, and so much more.

I love cooking, but I hate cutting onions. They make me cry every single time. I can probably get away with cutting one without having a problem, but forget it after that. The waterworks start, and the rest of the experience is pure pain. Imagine my surprise, then, when I was wearing my Meta Quest 3 while cooking and never shed a tear, even after cutting several onions sequentially.

This works because, like a pair of ski or swimming goggles, the Meta Quest 3 blocks an onion's lachrymator gases from entering my eyes in the first place. But why would I be wearing a VR headset while cooking, anyway? Maybe a bit surprisingly, wearing a Quest 3 while doing chores is one of the most interesting ways to use the headset's mixed reality mode.

The idea was pitched to me by Rec Room's head of PR, Becka Magnenat, as we were chatting about mixed reality and its potential for future Rec Room updates. It's a nice juxtaposition to last week's AC ThVRsday column about chores being more fun in VR games, and it just goes to show that VR makes everything better.

The screen that's always with you

Demonstrating the Meta Quest 3 passthrough video quality in the kitchen in the evening

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

You've probably heard the phrase "The best camera is the one that's always with you." Its origins derive from comparing smartphone cameras to professional DSLR cameras, meaning the quality itself isn't what makes it good. It's the fact that it's in your pocket and always available to capture the moment.

You could try to extend this logic to the stunning displays on the best phones, but there's one big problem with this logic: your phone has to occupy physical space. That means it's either got to be in your hand or on a flat surface somewhere, and that's definitely not ideal when you're trying to do chores around the house.

Being able to watch a video without carrying around a phone opens up a world of possibilities.

Here's where a face computer like the Quest 3 comes in. When wearing the Quest 3, you can use it to see your surroundings as if you weren't wearing anything at all. While the quality of the "passthrough" video could be improved, it's more than good enough quality to enable you to do daily tasks while wearing the headset.

Better yet, the Quest 3's mixed reality apps let you surf web pages, watch videos, and do plenty more since all these things are contained in virtual floating windows. A picture's worth a thousand words, so let this video better help illustrate what I mean.

Having something like a Nest Hub on your counter makes it easier to cook with, but this brings the experience up a notch. While the Nest Hub can deliver hands-free cooking via Google Assistant's voice on supported pages, not having to touch a screen at all is far preferable.

When you've got a recipe in a floating web browser window, you can interact with it using just your hands. That means, no matter how greasy or full of food your hands are, you can still scroll through to the next step (or back to the ingredients list) without worrying about having to clean off some grubby display later.

But don't let the kitchen be the only place you use this. It's also great for folding laundry, organizing the closet, or endlessly throwing the ball for your dog while watching the latest videos on YouTube.

But, I personally draw the line at walking around while wearing one in public. VR industry veteran Cix Liv famously filmed his coffee run while wearing a Quest 3, showcasing the limits of what you can do while using the headset's mixed reality mode.

Now, there's nothing wrong with doing this. Several users have demonstrated how useful the Quest 3 can be when using mixed reality outdoors, even if Meta warns that the headset's display can be damaged if the lenses are exposed to direct sunlight.

Mixing the virtual with the physical will continue to open up new gameplay possibilities, too.

In fact, this Sword Art Online demonstration might just be the single coolest example of how good outdoor mixed-reality gaming can get right now. It gives players a bigger space to play, fresh air to breathe, and more freedom to experience the best of what developers can come up with.

There's very little doubt in my mind that we'll start seeing even more fitness applications on the Quest 3 than we ever saw on the Quest 2 because of how well the headset's mixed reality mode works.

Liv tried to start a new form of virtual sports called Rek but was held back by the Quest 2's hardware limitations. My hope is that he and others will not only revive the concept with the Quest 3 but continue to push the concept as smart glasses and other augmented reality tools get better and better.

Nicholas Sutrich
Senior Content Producer — Smartphones & VR
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu