Oculus Quest

Oculus Quest May Add a Facebook-Powered Voice Assistant

The Oculus Quest virtual reality system may be getting a voice assistant, according to a report from UploadVR. The so-called ‘Oculus Assistant’ was discovered in the device’s latest firmware update and could point to how Oculus and parent company Facebook plan to extend the way people use the Quest.

VR Voice

The application within the Quest’s firmware contains an “Assistant Test Service” and asks for voice permission, but there isn’t anything else attached to the program. The discovery has yet to be addressed by Oculus, but it is reasonable to think that it represents the beginning of work on a voice assistant for the Quest. Facebook has already talked about its plans to create an assistant for the Quest, this just may confirm that it is in development.

Facebook has been vocal about its hopes for voice in its future products. CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed back in May that the company is working on a voice assistant. The main home for the Facebook voice assistant would likely be the Portal smart displays, but might not be limited to them. The new voice project started in earnest in early 2018, after Facebook shut down M, the digital assistant built into its Messenger platform after three years. It’s not clear if the Facebook voice assistant and the Oculus one will be identical, different names with the same technology, or entirely separate platforms, but executives at Facebook appear to perceive the value of voice to the company as a whole.

Vocal Video Games

A voice assistant for the Oculus Quest would fit into the larger trend of including voice assistants in video game systems that appears to be growing. Microsoft’s Xbox One console system already offers three different voice assistant options after adding Google Assistant in September. The voice commands for Xbox One include controls for the system as well as game-specific voice apps to enhance the experience for gamers.

Meanwhile, recent Sony patents suggest the forthcoming PlayStation 5 will include a comprehensive voice assistant that will aid players in games as well as carry out commands. On the new systems front, Google Assistant is expected to act as an essential component of Stadia, the Google streaming video game service announced at Made by Google in October. All of this speaks to the level voice technology has risen to and the understanding by video game developers of the potential for voice assistants to improve gaming.


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