The Oculus Quest can now differentiate Christmas Lights from controllers

Oculus Quest Christmas
Oculus Quest Christmas (Image credit: Nick Sutrich/Android Central)

What you need to know

  • The Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest use a visual tracking system called the Oculus Insight that sees LEDs in the Oculus controllers.
  • Some types of Christmas lights were tricking the Insight system into thinking the controller was moving when it wasn't.
  • Oculus Insight now tracks lights in 3D space and will no longer be confused by small LEDs like Christmas lights.

If you've been playing Beat Saber nonstop this Holiday season, you've likely experienced a time or two when the controllers would "wig out" and move in a way your hand wasn't. More than likely this is because you've been playing in the vicinity of the nascent Christmas lights that began appearing throughout your home. The brains behind the incredible Oculus Insight tracking system realized this issue would crop up and have debuted a patch for the Oculus Quest just in time for the biggest gift-giving holiday of the year.

The Oculus firmware v12 that was sent out a few days ago included a stealth update to the Oculus Insight tracking system that's present on the Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest. This update represents the third big update to Oculus's tracking system this year, which has included improved tracking when controllers are close to the headset or behind the player, as well as the amazing hand-tracking update that takes controllers out of the equation completely.

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This latest update completely changes the way Oculus Insight treats light sources around the room and introduces a 3D element to the equation. Before, the Insight tracking system would identify light sources and assign a location based on the geometric shape of the source as a "blob", helping the system to understand how you're rotating and moving your hands through real-world space. While this works incredibly well in several types of lighting conditions and a wide range of environments, certain small LED light sources negatively affect tracking performance. If you've ever used a Wii or a Windows Mixed Reality system, you'll know what I mean.

Oculus Insight light blobs

Source: Oculus (Image credit: Source: Oculus)

Since the Oculus Touch controllers that ship with the Quest and Rift S feature small LED lights all around the controller, the system was easily getting tricked into thinking similar-looking small LED Christmas lights were part of your controller when playing in front of any holiday lights. With this update, Oculus Insight now identifies light source blobs by their locations in 3D space and assigns them a group ID or color. This is represented in the image above, where the left side shows the new tracking tech that identifies different groups of lights by color, while the old style doesn't group these lights at all and creates a confusing environment for tracking.

This advancement comes after several months of updates and enhancements to the Oculus Quest, which has seen the aforementioned tracking enhancements as well as visual enhancements that will help improve the sharpness and performance of Quest games in the future. This update should also help improve controller tracking in any light, as it can better determine the 3D space of your controllers in the environment.

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