UPDATED 12:30 EDT / MARCH 01 2023


Meta’s AR/VR roadmap has Quest 3 launching this year, true AR glasses in 2027

Ever since Meta Platforms Inc. rebranded itself from Facebook, the company has been on a trajectory to take the metaverse by storm, and to do that it needs to innovate in augmented and virtual reality headsets.

The Verge reported late Tuesday that Meta unveiled a 4-year roadmap to its employees in which the company said it plans to release the next generation of Quest headsets later this year with the Quest 3. The company also plans smart glasses that will overlay text and will release fully fledged AR glasses in 2027.

The Quest 3 is aimed at the consumer market similar to the Quest 2 and will use multiple external cameras to provide not just virtual reality features but mixed reality capabilities that provide pass-through video similar to the recently announced Quest Pro.

Mixed reality works by passing video from cameras mounted on the headset through to the viewer then mixing virtual reality effects with what can be seen allowing for semi-immersive experiences. As a result, walls, the sky, trees and other visuals can be replaced with virtual objects.

Mark Rabkin, Meta’s vice president of VR, explained that cameras on the device would allow users to avoid furniture and walls when they’re in VR so they don’t trip when using them.

“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 take your coffee. You can stay in there much longer.”

The Quest 3 is expected to be twice as powerful and two times thinner than the Quest 2 with a slightly higher price point.

Although there were few details given for it, Rabkin mentioned a more consumer-accessible headset codenamed “Ventura,” with a planned launch in 2024. He said that the intention of this headset would be to provide the “biggest punch we can at the most attractive price point.”

Meta’s future is augmented

Meta Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has always shown a strong preference for augmented reality, previously saying that AR glasses would be the “holy grail device” that would “redefine our relationship with technology,” and become an “iPhone moment.” So it’s no surprise that a major focus of the company is on AR.

The first device the company plans to launch is coming this fall will be the second generation of Luxottica smart glasses released in 2021. These glasses allow users to take calls, show information on a small display and even livestream using the embedded cameras.

Alex Himel, Meta’s vice president of AR, said a third generation of the devices would launch in 2025 and afford even more features, including a “viewfinder” for text messages, QR code scanning and real-time text translation. The glasses would even pair with a “neural interface” wristband that would track wrist and finger movements to allow the user to control the glasses with minute gestures. Eventually, it would even be upgraded with “virtual keyboard” features.

Himel also said the company is working on a version of that band that would be a smartwatch with cameras to accompany the smart glasses. This would allow users to use it for social features, allowing the watch to control the glasses as well as act as a display and selfie camera for the user while on video calls.

As for more fully featured AR glasses, which overlay a user’s vision with virtual objects, sometimes called holograms, Meta plans to launch its first set in 2027. These glasses are dubbed the “Innovation” line of AR glasses for early adopters and will be coupled with less advanced, and less expensive, glasses called “Scale.” They will also be paired with the neural wristband for easy control.

Himel said there will be an “internal launch” as early as 2024 for employees to test the glasses and get an experience with them long before they are market-ready.

The news of Meta’s augmented and mixed reality roadmap comes at a time when Apple has struggled to develop its own AR glasses, dubbed Apple Glass, which are reportedly postponed “indefinitely.” The company is still pushing toward an announcement for its much-anticipated mixed reality headset at its World Wide Developer Conference in June.

Photo: Pixabay

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