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

Meta plans to release its first pair of smart glasses for display in 2025 along with a neural interface smartwatch designed to control them, The Corr is learned. Meanwhile, its first pair of full-fledged AR glasses, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicts will be as widely used as mobile phones, are slated for 2027.

The data was shared with thousands of employees in Meta’s Reality Labs division on Tuesday during a shared roadmap presentation of its AR and VR efforts. The Corr. Overall, they show how Meta plans to continue investing in consumer hardware after a series of setbacks and wider company-wide cost-cutting. A spokesperson for Meta declined to comment for this story.

As for the VR roadmap, employees have been told that the flagship Meta Quest 3 headset coming later this year will be twice as thin, at least twice as powerful, and cost slightly more than the $400 Quest 2. Like the Quest Pro that was recently announced, it will visibly see mixed reality experiences that do not fully immerse the person, thanks to front cameras that pass through real world videos. Meta has sold nearly 20 million Quest headsets to date, Mark Rabkin, the company’s vice president of VR, told employees during the presentation.

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

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Meta’s main challenge with Quest 3, internally codenamed Stinson, will be convincing people to pay “a little more” money than the cost of the existing Quest 2 , according to Rabkin. “We have to get enthusiastic about it,” he told employees on Tuesday. “We have to prove to people that this power, all these new features, is 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 guide real-world wearers while wearing the device. “It was the star of the north for the team from the moment you put on this headset, mixed reality has to feel better, easier, more natural,” he said. “You can walk through your house with ease and know that you can see just fine. You can add anchors and objects to your desktop. You can take your coffee. You can stay there much longer.”

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

Rabkin did not say whether the second generation of the recent Meta Quest Pro, which received bad reviews from The Corr and others, coming anytime soon. The closest thing to a successor will be “way into the future” after Ventura in 2024, when Meta is planning its most advanced headset called La Jolla that will feature photorealistic coded avatars.

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

Meanwhile, he admitted that the current Quiz is struggling to keep new users engaged. “Right now, we’re in our third year of Quiz 2,” he told employees. “And unfortunately, the new cohorts that are coming in, the people who bought it last Christmas, they’re not as impressed” or engaged as “the ones 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.

The current Quiz is struggling to keep new users engaged

“We need to be better at growing and retaining and resurrecting,” he said. “We need to be better at social and make those things more reliable, more intuitive so people can rely on it.”

Even with these struggles, Meta is ahead of virtual reality hardware. But the big swings in the coming years show the real competition that is about to happen. Apple is expected to announce a high-end virtual reality headset sometime this year, and Sony just released the well-received PSVR 2 for console gamers. Meanwhile, Apple, Google, Snap, and others are moving toward something even bigger: augmented reality glasses—and that’s where Meta hopes its early efforts in the mixed reality space will pay off. off a lot.

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

During a roadmap presentation on Tuesday, Alex Himel, the company’s vice president for AR, laid out the plan for a bevy of devices through 2027. The first launch will come this fall with the second generation of smart glasses equipped with a Meta camera which he released in 2021 with Luxottica, the parent company of Ray-Ban.

In 2025, Himel said the third generation of smart glasses will be launched with what he called a “vision tracker” display to see incoming text messages, scan QR codes, and translate text from another language in real time. -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. Finally, he said that the band will allow the wearer to use a virtual keyboard and type the same words per minute as mobile phones allow.

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

Although Meta added its plans for a smart watch with a detachable display and cameras, it is still working on another smartwatch to go with the 2025 glasses, Himel confirmed.

“We don’t want people to have to choose between an input device on their wrist and the functionality of a smartwatch they love,” he said. “So we’re building a neural interface watch. Number one, this device will take input: input to control your glasses, input to control the functionality on your wrist, and input to control the world around you.”

Himel showed a demo of the glasses to employees where the cameras on the glasses, during a video call, showed the perspective of the wearer’s face while simultaneously showing a selfie view from the camera on the watch. He said the smartwatch will be an optional upgrade from a paired neural band that comes with the glasses, and will also integrate with Meta’s social media apps like WhatsApp and offer health and fitness features.

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

Himel framed the market opportunity around the nearly two billion pairs of regular glasses and hundreds of millions of smart watches sold each year. “If we can put a great product on the shelves at a great price with the right value, we believe we can go into these upgrade cycles and have a lot of growth in our devices,” he told the room. “It’s up to us to deliver.”

“A business unlike anything we’ve seen on mobile before”

Meta plans to rely on its existing advertising business model to help it monetize these devices in the future. Himel said the company thinks it can average higher revenue per user than it currently does on 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 ad business,” he said. “I think it’s easy to imagine how ads would appear in space when you’re wearing AR glasses. Our ability to track conversions, which is where we’ve focused a lot as a company, should be close to 100 percent as well.”

“If it’s anything close to achieving projections, it’s going to be a great business,” he said. “A firm unlike anything we’ve seen on mobile before.”

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