- Mark Zuckerberg has shown four VR headset prototypes in a video.
- The Facebook parent wants to lead the VR market.
- Meta would have a new revenue stream of hardware sales.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has showcased virtual reality (VR) headset prototypes to indicate how the company is trying to win against competitors in the race of making immersive experiences more realistic to humans. Under the Reality Labs division, Meta is working towards overcoming the ongoing challenges in the VR field by developing new hardware. The prototypes show us that work — alongside making it clear that a full-fledged headset that can take us to an as realistic virtual world as its physical counterpart is yet to be built.
Last year, the company changed its name to Meta to highlight the company’s new emphasis on the metaverse, a virtual world where Zuckerberg imagines people will spend increasing amounts of time — ideally, through advanced computerized glasses. If Zuckerberg succeeds in making head-worn computers mainstream, then Meta would have a new revenue stream of hardware sales, and it would control its own hardware platform, which would make it less susceptible to platform changes from other companies.
The VR market is currently small, and there are questions about how big it could get. Meta currently dominates headset sales, with its current $299 Quest 2 accounting for 78% of all headset sales in 2021, according to an estimate from IDC. But there were only 11.2 million VR headsets sell during the year — a far smaller number than smartphones or PCs.
Meta shows off latest virtual reality headset prototypes
The first one in the series is codenamed Butterscotch. It is an attempt to deliver a near retinal resolution to help users comfortably read the smallest letters of a virtual vision chart. This solves the problem of giving close to the 60-pixel-per-degree resolution that Meta considers as a standard for a human retina. However, the headset is not perfect in terms of making the virtual experience as vivid as the physical world. Meta has, thus, developed its Half Dome prototypes.
Zuckerberg reiterated plans to ship a high-end headset codenamed Project Cambria in 2022, following its initial announcement last year. Cambria supports full VR as well as mixed reality, thanks to high-resolution cameras that can pass a video feed to an internal screen. It will also ship with eye-tracking, a key feature for future Meta headsets.
Cambria supports full VR as well as mixed reality, thanks to high-resolution cameras that can pass a video feed to an internal screen. It will also ship with eye tracking, a key feature for future Meta headsets. From there, Zuckerberg says Meta is planning two lines of VR headsets: one that will remain cheap and consumer-focused, like today’s Quest 2, and one that will incorporate the company’s newest technology, aimed at a “prosumer or professional-grade” market.
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