Oculus Go Not Getting USB Storage Support Anymore
Shortly following the announcement of the standalone virtual reality headset Oculus Go in October 2017, former Oculus Chief Technology Officer John Carmack had told a fan that an update for USB storage for Oculus Go was in the pipeline. The USB storage support was expected to come “relatively soon” following the launch. This made perfect sense since the Go headsets are primarily intended for 360-degree videos that take up a lot of memory space.
Facebook’s Carmack, now Oculus Consulting CTO, announced via a recent Twitter mention that Oculus Go won’t be releasing a USB storage support after all. The reason for the about turn has been cited as due to hardware challenges that cannot be fixed.
There is a hardware problem that we can’t fix.
— John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) November 7, 2019
The Oculus Go headset is Facebook’s budget virtual reality headset which was built for passive media consumption as well as basic social VR. The headset was launched in May 2018 for a price of $199 for the 32GB version or $249 for the 64GB version. For Black Friday sale, both virtual reality headsets will be available with a $50 discount. The headset does not have a microSD card slot so it is not possible to expand the storage locally.
One expansion option that was available for the device storage was through the use of a microUSB stick. The Oculus Go headset is designed with a microUSB port as well as 128GB microUSB drives that can be purchased on Amazon for approximately $20.
@ID_AA_Carmack GO has fantastic updates! but don't understand lack of sd-slot. always download videos for best quality. streaming is also harmful when device is near head.
hope price is 199€ or cheaper!
sometimes EU pays more. why, when 199$=162€!
— bibberbiber (@bibberbiber) March 22, 2018
In June 2018 when a fan inquired on the release schedule for the USB support, Carmack had responded that while the support was not in the update that was rolling out then, it would come “hopefully” in the next update:
@ID_AA_Carmack Any news on USB storage support for Oculus Go?
— Bekris (@u_bekris) June 20, 2018
In August 2018, Oculus was still entertaining the prospect of releasing the update. Then, Carmack had also mentioned that the storage would be “coming soon”.
I don't think there are any plans for arbitrary USB device support. Storage is coming soon, and keyboards / mice work, but random devices aren't a priority.
— John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) August 27, 2018
In spite of the many assurances from the Oculus Consulting CTO, the feature never shipped. When asked again this month about the “broken promise” of USB storage support, Carmack finally admitted that it would not be possible stating that “there is a hardware problem we can’t fix”.
In Oculus Go, Battery Problems Have Prevented USB Support
In an unscripted keynote during the Oculus Connect 5 in September 2018, Carmack, while still sticking to the storage support promise, had stated that Oculus had no workaround on the hardware problem whereby at low battery levels, it was not possible to mount the device correctly when plugging in the USB.
However, he was still shocked by how much power the little USB keys drew out from the main battery when user plugs them in to play a video or something else off them. According to Carmack, one tiny flash drive drew out a staggering 1 watt of power, which is a lot for such a tiny device.
This is interesting as the Oculus Go variant distributed by Xiaomi supports some USB memory peripherals up to a power consumption level of 500mA. Beyond that, the Go headset must be connected to a socket or power bank.
Oculus balked from publishing the USB firmware update in the West due to these quality considerations. The high-power consumption of the USB sticks means that they will not be recognized when the Go headset is low on power. This is in addition to the fact that they draw a lot of power from the battery.