This is Meta’s AR/VR hardware roadmap for the next four years

Meta plans to release its first pair of smart glasses with a screen in 2025 alongside a neural-interface smartwatch designed to control them, The edge has learned. Meanwhile, its first pair of full-fledged AR glasses, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg has expected will eventually be as widely used as cell phonesis planned for 2027.

The details were shared with thousands of employees of Meta’s Reality Labs division on Tuesday during a roadmap presentation of its AR and VR efforts which was shared with The edge. Together they show how Meta plans to continue investing in consumer hardware after a series of setback And greater cost reduction across the business. A Meta spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

As for the VR roadmap, employees were told that Meta’s flagship Quest 3 headset, which will arrive later this year, will be twice as thin, at least twice as powerful, and cost a little more. than the $400 Quest 2. Like recently announced Quest Pro, it will highlight mixed reality experiences that don’t fully immerse the wearer, thanks to front-facing cameras that cut through real-world video. Meta has sold nearly 20 million Quest headsets to date, Mark Rabkin, the company’s vice president for virtual reality, told employees during the presentation.

(I’ll have more of that meeting and my thoughts on the Meta roadmap in Thursday’s issue of my Command Line newsletter.)

Three new Quest models

The Meta Quest 2, released in 2020.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales/The Verge

Meta’s main challenge with the Quest 3, which is internally codenamed Stinson, will be convincing people to pay “a little more” than the cost of the existing Quest 2, according to Rabkin. “We need to get the enthusiasts excited about this,” he told employees on Tuesday. “We have to prove to people that all this power, all these new features are worth it.”

Meta has sold nearly 20 million Quest headsets to date

Mixed reality will be a huge selling point, and Rabkin said there will be a new “smart guardian” to help wearers navigate the real world while wearing the device. “The main north star for the team was from the moment you put that headset on, mixed reality has got to make it better, easier, more natural,” he said. “You can effortlessly walk around your home knowing you can see perfectly. You can put anchors and things on your desk. You can have your coffee. You can stay there much longer.

There will be 41 new apps and games shipping for Quest 3, including new mixed reality experiences to take advantage of updated hardware, Rabkin said. In 2024, he said Meta plans to ship a more “accessible” helmet named Ventura. “The goal of this headset is very simple: pack the biggest punch possible at the most attractive price point in the consumer VR market.”

Rabkin did not say whether a second generation of the recent Meta Quest Pro, which received bad reviews Since The edge and others, coming soon. Closest to what looks like a successor will be “release in the future” after Ventura in 2024, when Meta plans its most advanced helmet named La Jolla with photorealistic codec avatars.

“We want to make it higher resolution for professional use and really nail work and text and things like that,” Rabkin said of La Jolla. “We want to take a lot of the comfort stuff from Quest Pro and how it sits on your head and the split architecture and bring it in for more comfort.”

Meanwhile, he acknowledged that the current Quest is struggling to keep new users engaged. “Right now, we’re in our third year of Quest 2,” he told employees. “And unfortunately the new cohorts coming in, the people who bought it last Christmas, they’re just not as interested” or engaged as “those who bought it early”.

Rabkin pushed employees to make sharing VR content on other platforms “trivial,” redesign the Quest store to make it more “dynamic,” and give developers the ability to do things like automated promotions. .

Current quest struggles to keep new users engaged

“We have to be better at growth, retention and resurrection,” he said. “We need to be better at social media and make these things more reliable, more intuitive for people to rely on.”

Even with these struggles, Meta has built an early lead in virtual reality hardware. But its big swings over the next few years testify to the serious competition that is about to arrive. Apple is thshould announce a high-end virtual reality headset this year, while Sony has just released the PSVR 2 well received for console gamers. Meanwhile, Apple, Google, Snap and others are all racing towards something even bigger: augmented reality glasses – and that’s where Meta hopes its first efforts in the mixed reality space will really bear fruit.

AR glasses and neural interfaces

A demo from late 2021 illustrates how Meta imagines AR glasses could work to let someone play chess with a hologram.
Image: Meta

Besides the Quest line, Meta also has thousands of employees building future AR glasses and wrist devices to control them. The main difference with VR is that the company wants AR glasses to eventually be worn all day as a replacement for smartphones. Zuckerberg has called them the “holy grail” device that will “redefine our relationship with technology” by the end of this decade.

During Tuesday’s roadmap presentation, Alex Himel, the company’s vice president for AR, outlined the plan for a slew of devices through 2027. The first launch will be this fall with the second generation of The smart glasses equipped with a camera from Meta it was released in 2021 with Luxottica, the parent company of Ray-Ban.

In 2025, Himel said the third generation of smart glasses would come with a screen he called a “viewfinder” to view incoming text messages, scan QR codes and translate 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 sliding their fingers over an imaginary D-pad. Eventually, he said the band will let the wearer use a virtual keyboard and type the same words per minute that cell phones allow.

The smartwatch will integrate with Meta’s social media apps and offer health and fitness features

While Meta has canned its plans for a smartwatch with a removable display and cameras, it’s still working on another smartwatch to go along with its 2025 glasses, Himel confirmed.

“We don’t want people to have to choose between a wrist-based input device and a smartwatch feature they love,” he said. “So we’re building a watch of neural interfaces. First, this device will make an input: an input to control your glasses, an input to control functionality on your wrist, and an input to control the world around you. »

Himel showed employees a demo of the glasses in which, during a video call, the cameras on the glasses showed the wearer’s front-facing perspective at the same time as a selfie view was shown from the watch’s camera. He said the smartwatch will be an optional upgrade to a paired neural band that comes with the glasses, and it will also integrate with Meta’s social media apps like WhatsApp and offer health and fitness features. form.

Meta’s Ray-Ban Stories, released in 2021, features dual cameras for capturing photos and video.
Photo by Amanda Lopez for The Verge

Meta’s first true pair of AR glasses, which the company has been developing in-house for 8 years under the codename Orion, are more technically advanced, more expensive, and designed to project high-quality avatar holograms onto the real world. There will be an “internal rollout” for employees to test the glasses in 2024, according to Himel. A version won’t be released until 2027, when Meta will launch what Himel called its “Innovation” line of AR glasses for early adopters, alongside a “Scale” line of less advanced, second-generation smart glasses. of his neural glasses. smart watch.

Himel framed the market opportunity around the nearly two billion pairs of regular glasses and hundreds of millions of smartwatches that are sold each year. “If we can get a great product on the shelves at a great price with the right value, we think we can get into those upgrade cycles and have strong growth in our devices,” he told the room. “It’s up to us to deliver.”

“A company unlike anything we’ve seen in mobile phones before”

Meta plans to build on its existing advertising business model to help it make money from these future devices. Himel said the company believes it can generate higher average revenue per user than it currently does on social media, through a combination of selling virtual goods, optional add-ons such as cloud saves and AR ads.

“We should be able to run a really good advertising business,” he said. “I think it’s easy to imagine how ads would display in space when you’re wearing AR glasses. Our ability to track conversions, which the company has focused on a lot, should also be close. of 100%.”

“If we achieve anything near projections, it will be a great business,” he said. “A company unlike anything we’ve seen in mobile phones before.”

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