Facebook Reality Labs Shares VR and AR Updates at Connect Event

Hold your holographic horses

Facebook says VR and AR are the next big thing in computing. At Wednesday’s Connect event, the social media giant showed how it plans to dominate yet another tech platform. 

Virtual reality

Oculus Quests are selling like hot cakes during the pandemic, but new headset owners may soon have buyer’s remorse. FB unveiled the $299 Quest 2, which drops Oct. 13. 

  • The specs: 50% more pixels, 10% lighter, and one Benjamin Franklin cheaper than Quest 1. It’s also the first device to ship with Qualcomm’s newest VR/AR chipset.  
  • Quest 2 will require a Facebook login, a buzzkill for some prospective buyers. 

VR isn’t necessarily having a niche → mass market moment, but Quest 2’s pricing is enticing…and likely enabled by selling at or below cost. FB could make up any lost hardware margins through an ever-expanding content library and services ecosystem: Quest 2 is getting exclusive AAA titles and Infinite Office, a customizable VR workspace. FB will also sell an enterprise Quest 2.

Augmented reality

It’s official: FB is developing AR smart glasses. But hold your holographic horses—Project Aria is a multi-year process. 

  • The first step: In 2021, we’ll see smart glasses designed by Luxottica, the parent company of Ray Bans. They won’t have a display, nor will they be branded as an AR product. 

But AR specs are eventually coming (like Snap, FB is iterating with hardware). In the interim, FB will test sensor-laden research devices in the real world. 

R&D 

I stayed for the Facebook Reality Labs sci-fi power hour. Things got deep

FB is working on spatial audio and “neural click” technology, which I’ve demoed. It’s creating a working theory for the “second wave of human-oriented computing” and trying to think proactively about social implications (vs. its reactive approach to content moderation issues). 

Bottom line: Facebook doesn’t own or control the hardware rails its services currently run on. It hopes to change that with VR/AR—that’s why it’s invested in building interfaces, devices, and walled gardens.


Via Morning Brew

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