Meta/Facebook's Bet on Virtual Reality

Meta's technology roadmap is designed to give people a realistic sense of presence

Facebook made a bold change in 2021 when Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company would shift its focus to the Metaverse and change its name to Meta. The company made early bets on virtual reality (VR) by buying Oculus nearly 10 years earlier, but the road to the Metaverse will also require the development of augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) technologies, and some level of cooperation with other companies that are also working to stake their own claims.

Facebook’s Virtual World: Glimpses of Meta’s Metaverse

Horizon Worlds is the first glimpse of Meta’s idea of a metaverse, and you can see it for yourself through Meta’s Rift S or Quest 2 VR headsets. This virtual reality experience builds on older products like Oculus Rooms and Facebook Spaces, but it allows you to create a single avatar and move seamlessly between a variety of different games, activities, and events.

Some examples of the activities you can take part in include playing games with your friends, having a work meeting with colleagues, and attending a music event with thousands of other users. Users are also able to create their own worlds, virtual reality experiences, and games with a built-in toolbox.

Meta plans on updating Horizon Worlds to work on phones, which mirrors the way the Metaverse will probably be accessible via phones and computers in addition to virtual and augmented reality. The company’s other plans for the service are unclear, although Zuckerberg has stated that significant improvements are coming in terms of graphics.

What We Know About Meta’s Technology Roadmap

Since Zuckerberg’s announcements in 2021, we’ve learned a lot about Meta’s plans and some of the technologies the company is working on. It’s likely they’re also working on projects we don’t yet know about, and we’ll find out more in the future, but we do know that it involves VR, AR, and some other interesting technologies and concepts.

Meta’s Virtual Reality Tech

Virtual reality forms the core of Meta’s Metaverse plans, and we do know they’ll release at least one new headset in the near future. Beyond that, additional research and development is in progress to create the next generation of virtual reality hardware.

Meta has two upcoming VR headsets that we know about, and it probably has others in various stages of development as well. The Quest Pro, also known as Project Cambria, and the Quest 3.

The Quest Pro will be available in October 2022, and it will represent a significant departure from earlier Quest hardware. It will be more powerful and more expensive than previous Quest headsets, and it will have a number of new features. Eye tracking will allow users to make eye contact in virtual reality, and it may even be able to reflect your real-life facial expressions on your avatar. It’s also expected to have some augmented reality features powered by dual 4K cameras.

The Quest 3 is expected in late 2023, and it’s likely to be an evolution of the Quest 2 rather than the Quest Pro. That means the price should be more consumer-friendly. It’s expected to be more lightweight and powerful than the Quest 2, with a higher resolution ultra-OLED display and a GPU that’s better equipped for VR. 

Developing the Next Generation of Augmented Reality

Meta has also pulled out a separate augmented reality team from its virtual reality team to focus on the development of that technology. Augmented and mixed reality will be important in the development and adoption of the Metaverse because they will allow users to leverage information from the Metaverse wherever they happen to be, and engage in Metaverse experiences without putting on a bulky VR headset.

The Quest Pro could provide Meta’s first augmented reality experiences, but we also have information about dedicated AR devices on the horizon. One is known as project Hypernova, and the other as project Nazare.

Meta’s technology roadmap originally forecast the first release of these AR glasses sometime in 2024 with lighter, more advanced updates coming in 2026 and 2028. The current picture is less clear though, as the initial release may only be available to developers, or Meta may shift directions altogether.

Hypernova is expected to take the form of glasses that, while potentially bulky, can be worn anywhere. Since there isn’t enough room in such a small package to fit the necessary hardware, initial plans show these glasses being paired with a wireless device that’s about the size and shape of a smartphone that will be responsible for most of the processing power.

The glasses will also be able to connect to your phone to display incoming phone calls and text messages. They could also include other features, including stereo audio, a camera, and eye-tracking.

Project Nazare is a standalone AR headset that’s designed to work without a phone, but with the ability to pair with your phone for messages and notifications. Nazare could take the form of thick-rimmed glasses that weigh about twice as much as a heavy pair of sunglasses. In addition to a heads-up display, these glasses could allow you to communicate and interact with holograms of other people.

Meta’s Other Upcoming Technologies

Meta is also working on electromyography (EMG) technology, which could facilitate new ways of interacting with the Metaverse. One device that could be used with AR glasses takes the form of a wristband that would measure electrical pulses in your arm, allowing you to effectively interact with the glasses with your mind.

Ahead of anything that includes Meta’s EMG tech, the company has plans to release a smartwatch. A dual-camera smartwatch with a detachable face was originally slated for late 2022 or 2023, but that project was scrapped or pushed back. We could still see a Meta watch without the EMG technology in the future, or Meta could hold off until that tech is ready for commercial release, but we don’t know yet.

  • How do I buy Facebook Metaverse coin?

    Meta's financial arm, Meta Financial Technologies, is reportedly exploring a virtual currency for the metaverse, which insiders have dubbed "Zuck Bucks." These virtual coins aren't available yet. They would likely take the form of in-app tokens rather than a blockchain-based cryptocurrency.

  • How do I join the Facebook metaverse?

    According to Mark Zuckerberg, "The metaverse will not be created by one company." His company is exploring metaverse-related technology, so you can't exactly join a Facebook metaverse. However, you can download Meta's virtual social platform Horizon Worlds and begin accessing virtual content.

  • What is the new Facebook Meta rule about where your photos can be used?

    An online rumor says that a new Facebook/Meta rule allows the company to use people's photos without permission, and you can stop this by posting a message on your Facebook timeline. In fact, Meta's name change does not reflect any new policies. The company doesn't have a new rule that lets it use people's photos.

Was this page helpful?