Quest Voice Commands Can Now Be Activated Hands-Free
Yesterday, Oculus announced a small but notable change to the Quest’s voice commands feature: users can now activate it by using the wake phrase “Hey Facebook.”
The voice commands feature was added to Quest last year and enables users to double-tap the Oculus button found on their controller and then say phrases to perform quick and convenient navigation such as browsing the store, launching apps or capturing a screenshot.
For headsets with controllerless hand-tracking, voice commands could only be activated by opening the Quest menu, navigating to the settings and clicking on the voice commands button which, in the end, defeats the purpose for which the voice commands feature was created: to quickly navigate the VR headset using your voice.
Yesterday, Oculus announced that it has incorporated a wake phrase to Quest’s voice commands that will simplify the process of making the headset listen whether you are using hand-tracking or controllers. This wake phrase is “Hey Facebook.”
Even though Facebook is Oculus’ parent company, it would seem obvious that a wake phrase like “Hey Oculus” or “Hey Quest” would be more intuitive and doesn’t carry the Facebook baggage either, considering the fact that Facebook has built a controversial reputation when it comes to privacy issues and its insistence that owners must log in with their real Facebook accounts to use Oculus headsets after an earlier promise that users won’t be compelled to do so.
The move came at a time when Facebook also added the “Hey Facebook” wake phrase for its Portal smart displays.
That could explain Facebook’s decision to use this same wake phrase for its Oculus voice commands. Maybe the company wants uniform voice commands on all of its voice-activated devices, probably in a bid to create a more cohesive perception of its broader business activities which have since outgrown the tech giant’s original social media base.
Quest voice commands are currently just limited to navigation and do not meet the threshold of a digital assistant so Facebook may also be preparing its competitor to services such as Google Assistant, Cortona and Alexa.
Still, a wake phrase such as “Hey Facebook” may prove too broad and all-encompassing particular for a user with both a Quest headset and a Portal who wants to activate one of the devices with the voice command without activating the other. In such an instance, a specific wake phrase such as “Hey Oculus” or “Hey Quest” would be more practical and intuitive. A general wake phrase like “Hey Facebook” could prove problematic until these devices have an awareness of one another.
Oculus revealed that the “Hey Facebook” wake phrase would roll out gradually as an experimental feature to the Oculus Quest 2 headsets. Eventually, Facebook plans to also deploy it in the original Oculus Quest headset and move it from an experimental feature to the default option. Facebook insists that the wake phrase will be an opt-in feature and that the Quest headset won’t listen for the “Hey Facebook” when it is powered off or asleep.