Here's what Meta's CTO Andrew Bosworth bragged about in June, regarding AI improving the soon-to-be-released Quest 3:
Our decades-long work in AI is driving progress everywhere even in places you wouldn’t expect like Quest 3’s Touch Plus controllers.
No tracking rings—AI models for estimating their position got so good we don’t need them anymore.
Result is sleeker, more versatile controllers.
But here's the kind of complaints some Quest 3 owners are making now:
It does not seem that the tracking system was thoroughly tested with some of the biggest selling games by people very skilled at those games, nor did they test much, if at all with controller attachments for various apps, which are hugely popular across all game genres including many of the biggest selling Quest games…
If whomever tested this opened up a golf or tennis game, played Gorilla tag or any number of other games (many of which are HUGE sellers) at the level of skilled players, they would have seen in short order that the proposed tracking system would be problematic.
Veteran VR fan Tim "FlipperPA" Allen, a longtime member of the hardcore Beat Saber community, confirms this with me first-hand:
"[I] noticed almost immediately how unusable the new controllers were. I've been fighting a pinched nerve in my neck, and was hoping the new slimmer design and even weight of the Quest 3 might help. But without usable controllers with decent tracking, it is a non-starter for my exercise routine, such as Beat Saber!"
To further validate that this is not just an isolated incident, he also sent along multiple comment threads of Quest 3 owners complaining about the same problem:
Someone from Meta tech support even replied to these complaints, saying:
We'll be working to improve performance, especially for competitive players in games like Gorilla Tag, Supernatural, IB Cricket, and Eleven Table Tennis. We expect to roll some of these improvements in the upcoming releases.
But Tim (and for that matter, me) aren't convinced software fixes will address the fundamental issue. Because the problem seems to reside with VR experiences like Beat Saber that require highly precise, high speed tracking — and apparently, the AI algorithm's inability to approximate those accurately:
"By removing the infrared ring and going with pure camera tracking and software 'guestimates', difficult games requiring precision are now unplayable," as Tim explains. "This includes a wide swath of exercise games, like Supernatural, and Beat Saber at the higher levels. Meta thought the improved tracking algorithms would be up to tracking the new 'Touch Plus' controllers; they were very wrong. Anyone who plays workout-style games with fast movement at any high level will be severely disappointed."
Or as he puts it even more bluntly: "It looks like Boz jumped the gun on AI, and everyone is paying the price."
I'm checking with Meta PR for an official response. It looks like the Quest 3 is fine if you're a more casual player, or just enjoy low twitch experiences like, well, VRChat. But if you're a hardcore VR twitcher, caveat the fucking emptor on Quest 3.