Meta leaks its AR four-year plan before Apple can beat them

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Meta has made sure its new AR/VR plans would leak, as it tries to leverage its five-year lead to establish itself as the headset company to beat -- before Apple makes its announcements.

Meta's Quest Pro headset launched to poor reviews
Meta's Quest Pro headset launched to poor reviews


Facebook owner Meta has had an internal presentation about its AR/VR plans, and made certain to invite thousands of staff to guarantee every detail leaked quickly. To add verisimilitude to the "leak," The Verge says Meta declined to comment on the roadmap presentation the publication received.

The plan is to swamp the market with just about everything Apple has been rumored to do. So there will be headsets, glasses, and a heavy emphasis on mixed reality instead of VR.

Quest 3 headset and beyond

For the headsets, Meta said that an updated Quest 3 will be out later in 2023, and will be twice as powerful as its predecessor. The headset is codenamed Stinson -- possibly after Barney Stinson, Neil Patrick Harris's character in "How I Met Your Mother."

Stinson will be two times thinner than the Quest 2 -- and cost slightly more. Meta vice president for VR, Mark Rabkin, acknowledged that the price was "a bit more," and that this presents a challenge.

"We have to get enthusiasts fired up about it," he said. "We have to prove to people that all this power, all these new features are worth it."

Those main features revolve around front-facing cameras that mean a user gets a "smart guardian" so that they can walk around the real world while wearing the headset.

"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 continued. "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."

That last is a key aim for Meta. The company wants its headsets and, later, its glasses to be worn all day, rather than just put on briefly to use apps or games.

Speaking of apps and games, though, Meta announced that there will be 41 new ones shipping for the Quest 3.

It's not clear whether those same apps will also then work on the company's next headset, reportedly due in 2023. This one, codenamed Ventura after the Boulevard or -- less likely -- macOS, will be a more "accessible" headset.

"The goal for this headset is very simple," said Rabkin. "[Pack] the biggest punch we can at the most attractive price point in the VR consumer market."

Meta also revealed a third updated Quest headset, this time with no specific date beyond "way out in the future." Codenamed La Jolla, presumably after the area in San Diego, this headset features what Meta calls photorealistic codec avatars.

"We want to make [La Jolla] higher resolution for work use and really nail work, text and things like that," said Rabkin. "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."

Oculus Quest 2 [Meta]
Oculus Quest 2 [Meta]

Meta Glasses

In case Apple does release Apple Glass, Meta reportedly has thousands of employees working on AR glasses -- and associated wrist devices for controlling them.

Meta previously released camera-equipped smart glasses in 2021 in collaboration with Luxottica, Ray-Ban's parent company. Now for 2024, a second generation model is coming.

Then in 2025, there will be a third generation, and it will feature a "viewfinder" for reading text messages, translating text, and scanning QR codes. These glasses will come with a "neural interface" band that lets the wearer control them through hand gestures.

Alex Himel, Meta vice president for AR, said in internal presentation that ultimately, this band will let users pretend to type, and achieve the same typing speed they typically manage on smartphones.

Himel also said that there will be a new smartwatch to accompany its 2025 glasses -- despite previously cancelling its watch project.

"We don't want people to have to choose between an input device on their wrist and smartwatch functionality that they've come to love," said Himel. "So we are building a neural interfaces watch."

"Number one, this device will do input," he continued, "input to control your glasses, input to control the functionality on your wrist, and input to control the world around you."

Meta shelved its 'Milan' smartwatch, but is planning others
Meta shelved its 'Milan' smartwatch, but is planning others

Meta's Orion glasses

Himel told employees that in 2024, there will be the opportunity for them to try out its "Innovation" line of AR glasses in an internal launch. But the glasses will not ship publicly until 2027.

At that point, Meta will split the range so that there are these "Innovation" AR glasses for early adopters, and "Scale" ones of the less-advanced models.

Himel pointed out that there are close to two billion pairs of normal glasses sold each year, alongside hundreds of millions of smartwatches. "If we can put on shelves a great product at a great price with the right value," he said, "we believe we can get into these upgrade cycles and have a lot of growth of our devices."

The prospect of two billion people wearing its glasses, is where Meta's ambitions deviate the most from what Apple is believed to be planning. For in Meta's world, all two billion would wear its glasses all the time -- and see adverts.

"I think it's easy to imagine how ads would show up in space when you have AR glasses on," said Himel. "Our ability to track conversions, which is where there has been a lot of focus as a company, should also be close to 100 percent."

That last is also a nod to how with its own headsets or glasses, and with its own software, Meta would no longer have to worry about Apple's privacy plans affecting its bottom line.

Apple should take note

Most of Meta's "leaked" presentation involves talking up the company's plans, and trying to position itself as the key AR/VR and now MR company. But it did also include an acknowledgement that is simply difficult to sell AR headsets.

The Quest Pro headset, for instance, was introduced in late 2022, to poor reviews. But even more successful efforts are struggling.

"Right now, we're on our third year of Quest 2," Rabkin said,"and sadly, the newer cohorts that are coming in, the people who bought it this last Christmas, they're just not as into it... [as] the ones who bought it early."

"We need to be better at growth and retention and resurrection," he continued. "We need to be better at social and actually make those things more reliable, more intuitive so people can count on it."

All of this before Apple even acknowledges that it will be entering the smart headset market shortly.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    Forgetting about how cruddy their hardware design is and their software as well- it’s still Facebook. Anyone without a hole in their head will prefer to entrust their VR privacy experience to Apple.
    blastdoorronnaaplfanboylolliverStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 12
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,346member
    JamesCude said:
    Forgetting about how cruddy their hardware design is and their software as well- it’s still Facebook. Anyone without a hole in their head will prefer to entrust their VR privacy experience to Apple.
    Offhand, I cannot think of any other legitimate (as in, not a front for organized crime or a hostile foreign government) businesses that I trust less than Facebook and Twitter. 

    ronnwilliamlondonaaplfanboylollivertmayStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 12
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,346member
    I wonder if Apple is using motion before the snap to trick Facebook et al into over-committing to bad product ideas, leaving Apple wide open for a touchdown. 
    ronnlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 12
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,809member
    How about no.
    I don’t trust FB Meta as fr as I can throw them. Plus I see no use case for these that I would want. TBH, I can see these instantly being banned from most places, gyms, theatres, public spaces, business spaces, anywhere that deals with private data because the camera will see what you are reading and looking at. All that will be fed back to the MEta spy operation. Far from a couple billion people using them, I can imagine a couple billion people that are forbidden from using them. Honestly these things are supposed to have a microphone so they will listen in on conversations too. 
    No, just no at all under any circumstances. 
    williamlondonlarryjwlollivertmaywatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 12
    danoxdanox Posts: 2,983member
    Facebook (Meta) must be in a time warp………. with thousands of yes men
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 12
    blastdoor said:
    JamesCude said:
    Forgetting about how cruddy their hardware design is and their software as well- it’s still Facebook. Anyone without a hole in their head will prefer to entrust their VR privacy experience to Apple.
    Offhand, I cannot think of any other legitimate (as in, not a front for organized crime or a hostile foreign government) businesses that I trust less than Facebook and Twitter. 

    How about Google and Amazon? YMMV naturally.
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 12
    AniMillAniMill Posts: 166member
    I think it's easy to imagine how ads would show up in space when you have AR glasses on," said Himel. "Our ability to track conversions, which is where there has been a lot of focus as a company, should also be close to 100 percent.”

    “Track Conversions” Big YIKES! Yes this is exactly what I’d love to have, glasses that throw random ads in front of me as I’m driving. Anyone here see the Furturama episode: Attack of the Killer Ap? Yeah - this.
    DAalsethlolliverStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 12
    Aside from the total and utter complete lack of trust from Meta, FB, Amazon or any of those data mining companies, am i the only one who looks at their product iterations and thinks “is this line Blackberry  / Moto / Nokia circa 2006 coming out with their ‘best’ smartphones ahead of the 2007 iPhone launch?   

    Sincerely hoping Apple turns the look and effectiveness of the current AR/VR product/world on its ear similar to the way iPhone destroyed the ‘best’ products of the time.

    …. current products are just down right fugly.. no sense in mincing words.
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 12
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,809member
    blastdoor said:
    JamesCude said:
    Forgetting about how cruddy their hardware design is and their software as well- it’s still Facebook. Anyone without a hole in their head will prefer to entrust their VR privacy experience to Apple.
    Offhand, I cannot think of any other legitimate (as in, not a front for organized crime or a hostile foreign government) businesses that I trust less than Facebook and Twitter. 

    How about Google and Amazon? YMMV naturally.
    They are a photo Finish with Meta
    danoxwilliamlondonlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 12
    Grabbing some popcorn... curious to see how the VR wars play out once Apple steps into the arena...

    Clarification on the code names:

    Stinson Beach is a popular beach town in Marin County, Northern California, north of San Francisco and Facebook's HQ in Menlo Park, often shortened to just "Stinson" by locals. Marin County could be considered the northernmost part of the "tech region" of California. (Apologies to Santa Rosa and Sacramento.)

    Ventura is a beach town in the Los Angeles area, several hours south of Stinson Beach.

    La Jolla is also a coastal town, in the San Diego area a few hours south of Ventura, which is the southernmost part of the tech region and California itself.
    larryjwlolliverStrangeDayswatto_cobrabadmonk
  • Reply 11 of 12
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,346member
    blastdoor said:
    JamesCude said:
    Forgetting about how cruddy their hardware design is and their software as well- it’s still Facebook. Anyone without a hole in their head will prefer to entrust their VR privacy experience to Apple.
    Offhand, I cannot think of any other legitimate (as in, not a front for organized crime or a hostile foreign government) businesses that I trust less than Facebook and Twitter. 

    How about Google and Amazon? YMMV naturally.
    My ranking from least evil to most evil among these companies:

    Google
    twitter (pre-Musk)
    Amazon
    twitter (with Musk)
    Meta

    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 12
    As much as I think that whatever XR stuff Apple comes up with won't be for me, there is no way in hell it still won't be miles, light years, ahead of whatever Meta does.
    watto_cobra
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