Facebook said on Tuesday that it's temporarily halting sales of the Oculus Quest 2, a month before a planned update to a new entry-level model with more onboard storage. The move comes after several reported cases of skin reactions to the headset's included foam faceplate, the social media giant confirmed.
In a Facebook post on the issue from earlier this year, the company says a small percentage of Quest 2 owners have reported the issue. But in some cases reported online, the issue has been bad enough to cause people's faces to puff up and their eyes to close. Facebook changed the manufacturing process of its foam face interfaces earlier this year, but the concerns still prompted Facebook to stop selling the Quest 2 in coordination with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Facebook's adding silicone face-mask covers in future versions of the Quest 2, which will fit over the foam. Existing customers can contact Facebook for the replacement cover as well.
This is happening a month before Facebook is updating the Quest 2 with more storage: a new version of the $299 Quest that goes on sale Aug. 24 will have 128GB of storage instead of 64GB. Quest 2 models will include the silicone face-cover in the box from that point onward. It's awkward timing for the move, but also looks like a chance for Facebook to replace Quest 2 stock with models that have the silicone covers.
"Consumers who experience a skin irritation or reaction should immediately stop using the recalled foam facial interface, and all consumers should contact Facebook Technologies to receive a free silicone cover," said the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
According to Facebook, "If you haven't experienced irritation, you don't need to immediately stop use but you can still request a free silicone cover. If you have experienced irritation, you should immediately stop using the foam facial interface."
So what does this mean for you?
You should order one of the silicone foam covers to Facebook's Quest face-plate, which Facebook is offering now. And stop using the Quest 2 if you have any concerns about safety. The Quest 2 isn't recommended for kids under 13 to begin with, but keep the concerns in mind if they're using VR.
That being said, none of my friends or family who use the Quest 2 have had any skin reaction problems. But I do know one person who sent me a report of a friend who had a reaction. The silicone cover is free, and you should probably use one going forward if you haven't used VR before.
Is it an allergic reaction? (No, apparently)
After an internal investigation involving dermatologists that began last December, the skin issue is being considered contact dermatitis rather than an allergic reaction. Facebook offered a statement from Dr. Robert Rietschel, a co-author of dermatological reference work "Fisher's Contact Dermatitis": "I've reviewed the customer reports and data carefully. In my assessment, this is not an allergic reaction (meaning it's not systemic or life threatening) and a certain percentage of the population react with skin swelling to common everyday objects, including those worn on the body. In fact, this is the same type of skin reaction that can be caused in some people by everyday household items such as cinnamon flavorings and even foods like tomatoes. In the vast majority of the cases I've reviewed, the reaction self-resolves without medical attention, and with no lasting effects. I believe the current level of reports and severity of reaction is in line with, if not below, what should be expected."
Does Facebook plan to do anything else beyond the silicone cover?
Nothing else has been announced, and it looks like that silicone cover (which will cover the foam on the plastic insert) is the only plan for now. There are third-party faceplates that use other materials, but Facebook hasn't announced any plans to make any new accessories yet.