The Meta Quest 3 mixed reality headset will be released on October 10, the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced during yesterday’s Meta Connect presentation. The company positioned Meta Quest 3 as a possible way to meet with colleagues or to train new employees. In addition, Meta showed a group of AI chatbots, the work platform Meta Quest for Business, and the second generation of its Ray-Ban smartglasses.
- Meta Quest 3 will start at $499
- Meta Quest for Business interoperates with Microsoft 365
- Meta rolls out chatbots and AI image generator
- Second generation of Ray-Ban Meta smartglasses announced
Meta Quest 3 will start at $499
The Meta Quest 3 mixed reality headset (Figure A), first announced in June, will be released on October 10 in all countries in which the Meta Quest series is currently supported. Purchasers will be able to choose between two models: a previously announced $499 128 GB model and a 512 GB model for $649.
The display has 2064×2208 resolution per eye, achieved with pancake lenses (so called because of their three polarization-film stacks) and high-fidelity color Passthrough, which enables users to see the real and virtual worlds at the same time. Meta said this resolution is a nearly 30% improvement over Meta Quest 2. Meta Quest 3 runs on a second generation Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 (Figure B) and can be controlled using either hand gestures or the controllers.
Machine learning and what Meta calls “spatial understanding,” with two cameras and depth sensors, move Meta Quest 3 one step further in the company’s goal of blurring the physical and digital worlds, allowing users to interact with surfaces in the real world and see images overlaid on their physical surroundings.
Augments, digital objects that can be viewed through the headset and pinned in a physical location, will persist in place. For example, one could place a digital photograph on the wall of a room, walk out of that room and return to the room to view the photograph in the same place later.
What about the metaverse?
Forrester VP research director Mike Proulx noted in a blog post about Meta Connect that Zuckerberg reduced his formerly common references to the metaverse.
The metaverse is the idea that people might one day work and do leisure activities in a post-internet blend of digital and physical worlds.
“Absent was the term ‘metaverse,’ which was referenced just a couple of times, at best. There were no updates about Horizon Worlds [Meta’s virtual reality social media game],” said Proulx. “It’s not unexpected. Forrester predicted a metaverse winter for 2023.”
Main competitors to Meta Quest and market analysis
Meta Quest, previously known as Oculus Quest, competes with Apple’s upcoming and much pricier Vision Pro AR headset, as well as HTC’s Vive headsets.
Meta’s Reality Labs unit, which handles virtual and mixed reality hardware and software, has lost $21 billion since the beginning of 2022, according to a 2023 earnings report cited by CNBC.
Proulx was skeptical about Meta Quest 3, saying “Despite Meta’s claims that the Quest 3 is ‘the first ‘mainstream’ mixed reality headset, the masses simply aren’t yet interested in this category of devices…. Until these devices become far less cumbersome to wear, they remain limited in their usefulness.”
Only 8% of U.S. online adults have a VR headset, Forrester found. Typically, they wear the headset for about 45 to 50 minutes at a time, and only 9% of those who own one use it every day.
Gartner director analyst Tuong H. Nguyen said in an email to TechRepublic, “The metaverse is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s too early to say which investments (and by whom) are paying off. One thing I can say with much more certainty is the trend of the metaverse will disrupt the industry; potentially displacing some of the tech giants of the current era while introducing new ones.”
Meta Quest for Business interoperates with Microsoft 365
Launching next month is the Meta Quest for Business platform, which aims to bring mixed reality to organizations at scale. It includes device management and admin controls for Meta Quest products. Meta expects Meta Quest for Business will be able to work with Microsoft 365 and other productivity apps by the end of the year.
Meta Quest for Business will be available in October in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Japan.
Meta rolls out AI chatbots and AI art generator
Zuckerberg said during the Meta Connect presentation, “We don’t think there’s going to be one singular superintelligence everyone interacts with. People are going to want to interact with a lot of different AIs for different things they want to do.”
SEE: Meta has an in-house large language model: Llama 2 (TechRepublic)
As such, Meta built several generative AI chatbots, creating “personalities” that can interact on Facebook, Instagram and in mixed reality. For example, the Meta AI chatbot (Figure C) is built on Llama 2 and enhanced by Microsoft’s Bing Search, so it can refer to current events that appear on the search engine. Other AI chatbot personas are customized to cooking, workouts, travel and other leisure activities.
The personas are part of Meta’s effort to appeal to a younger audience, according to internal documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal.
This array of AI chatbots is rolling out in beta today and over the next few days.
People can build their own AI chatbot in AI Studio, which has been released to a small number of businesses in alpha today. It will be available for developers to explore using Meta’s APIs in the coming weeks, starting on Messenger and expanding to WhatsApp.
Emu art generator
An AI art generator called Emu for “expressive media universe” will be applied to stickers in WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, and Facebook Stories in order to create custom stickers within seconds.
Emu will roll out gradually over the next month. Plus, AI editing tools based on Emu will appear within Instagram in about a month, Zuckerberg said.
Second generation of Ray-Ban Meta smartglasses announced
The second generation of the Ray-Ban Meta partnership, which puts a camera and audio support into the smartglasses, will be on sale October 17 and start at $299. The Ray-Bans will include the Meta AI chatbot.
Starting next year, a software update will make the smartglasses multimodal, so the AI chatbot can interpret and react to images picked up by the camera. Live streaming to Facebook or Instagram will be available from the glasses at launch.
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