What is Next in Reality Labs, and How will it be marketed to VR and AR? A Comment on Bosworth’s Post on Meta Quest
In his post, he talked about Reality Labs work that could be updated next year. He reiterated that the company is working hard to improve its widely ridiculed avatar system, with “plenty more to share on this in 2023.” Meta shared in October that it figured out legs. Horizon Worlds, Meta’s Roblox-like social VR platform, has been struggling to keep users, but Bosworth promises that Meta is going to “spend 2023 focused on helping this community flourish.” The company will hold a Meta Quest Gaming showcase in the spring, and the successor to the game will be revealed in the company’s most recent earnings.
HTC has already said it will announce a lightweight Meta Quest competitor in just a few weeks at CES. The device, like the Meta Quest Pro, will be capable of VR, AR, and color passthrough. Apple is expected to reveal a high-end headset for VR / augmented reality next year. With new competitors joining us in building for virtual reality next year, Meta expects the field to get more crowded. We have to wait to see if what the company has built will be enough to make all of its investments worth it.
Towards an Unified View of Virtual Reality and AR: How Meta is Putting Efforts Toward Real Glasses During Connect
In February, Meta said that it had more than 300,000 active users in its game, but that figure was much smaller than that of Facebook at over 2 billion active users. The company declined to provide more up-to-date figures for Horizon Worlds.
During Connect today, all eyes will be on whether Cambria — or the Quest Pro as it has been rumored to be officially named — will be enough of an advancement to expand the market for VR. Meta knows its flagship metaverse app, Horizon Worlds, is riddled with software bugs and underused by even its own employees, so any updates to that platform will also be notable.
The details were shared with thousands of employees in Meta’s Reality Labs division during a presentation on its work on virtual reality. Altogether, they show how Meta is planning to keep investing in consumer hardware after a series of setbacks and broader cost cutting across the company. A source from Meta wouldn’t speak to this story.
Meta Connect is being held virtually this year and will be streamed online for anyone to watch. You can also watch in virtual reality using a Quest 2. The event will start at 10 am Pacific time and 1pmEastern time, with The Verge covering it.
Meta’s Reality Labs division might be burning billions, but it’s not all going toward not-great VR headsets. The company is currently putting “about half” of Reality Labs’ operating expenses toward augmented reality (AR), Meta CTO and Reality Labs head Andrew Bosworth said in an extensive blog post on Monday.
But that fully complete glasses product from Meta could be years away, even with how much the company is investing in AR. In order to realize a vision of true augmented reality glasses, it will take many years of progress making our devices lighter, faster, and more powerful, consuming less battery power and generating less heat. Meta is working on three different versions of glasses over the course of a few years, and the first version will only be for developers, as reported by The Verge in June.
I enjoy watching the space as someone who is watching it. But his post is likely also intended to show Meta’s commitment to VR and AR ahead of what’s a potentially huge year for AR / VR hardware. (Meta probably also wants to put its best foot forward after the sudden departure of John Carmack on Friday.)
Meta’s main challenge with the Quest 3, which is internally codenamed Stinson, will be convincing people to pay “a bit more” money than the cost of the existing Quest 2, according to Rabkin. He told his employees that they needed to get enthusiasts fired up about it. We have to prove to people that all the new features are worth it.
Mixing Reality, Glasses and Smart Watches: A Key Selling Point for Meta VR Oculus Ar glasses and Other Smart Devices
Rabkin said that mixed reality will be a huge selling point, and that a new smart guardian will be available to help people navigate the real world while wearing the device. “The main north star for the team was from the moment you put on this headset, the mixed reality has to make it feel better, easier, more natural,” he said. “You can walk effortlessly through your house knowing you can see perfectly well. You can put anchors and things on your desktop. You can drink your coffee. You can stay in there much longer.”
There will be 41 new apps and games shipping for the Quest 3, including new mixed reality experiences to take advantage of the updated hardware, Rabkin said. He said that a more accessible headset will be shipped in 2024. The goal for this headset is simple, pack the biggest punch we have at the cheapest price point in the consumer market.
Rabkin didn’t say whether a second generation of the recent Meta Quest Pro, which received poor reviews from The Verge and others, is coming anytime soon. The closest to what sounds like a successor will be “way out in the future” after Ventura in 2024, when Meta is planning its most advanced headset codenamed La Jolla featuring photorealistic, codec avatars.
“We want to make it higher resolution for work use and really nail work, text and things like that,” Rabkin said about La Jolla. “We want to take a lot of the comfort things from Quest Pro and how it sits on your head and the split architecture and bring that in for comfort.”
Meanwhile, he acknowledged that the current Quest is struggling to keep new users engaged. He told employees that they are on their third year of the program. “And sadly, the newer cohorts that are coming in, the people who bought it this last Christmas, they’re just not as into it” or engaged as “the ones who bought it early.”
Rabkin wanted employees to make the sharing of VR content on other platforms “trivial”, and to change the store to make it more “dynamic” and give developers the ability to do automated promotions.
Making Sense of Smart Devices: A Viewfinder for the Third Generation of Smart Glasses, and a Business Model to Run it on Social Media
“We need to be better at growth and retention and resurrection,” he said. People can count on social to be reliable, so we need to be better at it.
In 2025, Himel said the third generation of the smart glasses will ship with a display that he called a “viewfinder” for viewing incoming text messages, scanning QR codes, and translating text from another language in real time. The glasses will come with a “neural interface” band that allows the wearer to control the glasses through hand movements, such as swiping fingers on an imaginary D-pad. Eventually, he said the band will let the wearer use a virtual keyboard and type at the same words per minute as what mobile phones allow.
While Meta canned its plans for a smartwatch with a detachable display and cameras, it’s still working on another smartwatch to accompany its 2025 glasses, Himel confirmed.
Himel framed the market opportunity around the almost two billion pairs of regular glasses and hundreds of millions of smartwatches that are sold each year. If we can put on shelves a great product at a great price with the right value, we think we can get into these upgrade cycles for our devices and have a lot of growth. It is up to us to deliver.
Meta is planning to use its existing advertising business model to make money off of the future devices. Himel said the company thinks it can make a higher average revenue per user than what it makes currently in social media, thanks to a combination of selling virtual goods, optional add-ons like cloud backups, and AR ads.
“We should be able to run a very good ads business,” he said. “I think it’s easy to imagine how ads would show up in space when you have AR glasses on. Our ability to track conversions should be very close to 100 percent, which is something that has been a focus of the company.
He said it will be a huge business if we hit anything close to projections. “A business unlike anything we’ve seen on mobile phones before.”