Guess what Meta’s virtual/augmented reality team has been cooking up? We were already aware of that Meta Quest 3 was likely is planned this year, but the company also apparently plans to release limited “smart glasses” in 2025, with full AR glasses to follow by 2027. Of course, Meta plans to pack its upcoming AR devices with ads — their words, not ours.
This information comes to us thanks to The Verge, which obtained a leaked presentation Meta sent to the Reality Labs division on Tuesday. Perhaps the most interesting technology is the codenamed “Orion” true AR glasses, so let’s start there.
When will Meta AR glasses release?
Meta’s Orion glasses have been under development for eight years, and employees will get to test the glasses sometime next year. The new roadmap includes plans to release a limited number of Orions to the public by 2027, with new versions of Meta’s smart glasses and a second-generation smartwatch filling the gap for anyone who can’t get an Orion.
Of course, with AR comes more opportunities for Meta to expand its massive advertising business. VP of AR Alex Himel said “I think it’s easy to imagine how ads will appear in space when you’re wearing AR glasses.” He added that the glasses would be able to “track conversations,” meaning they would also be even more capable of hyper-targeting ads than Meta’s existing VR devices.
Alongside plans to sell users virtual goods or other services such as cloud backup, Himel called this plan for ads “a business unlike anything we’ve seen on mobile phones before.” The company’s “metaverse” ambitions have proven to be incredible money launderers so far, but one more lift Meta’s flagship advertising business could be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We can see a future where you just walk around with AR glasses on, see a stream of ads pop up in real space based on where you are or what you’re looking at.
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What has Meta planned for the next few years in VR?
All of Meta’s future products are filled with this promise of augmented reality technology, even the VR headsets. This shouldn’t be a surprise, especially since it was the company’s main talking point during its 2021 Connect Showcase. Meta Quest 3, codenamed “Stinson”, is expected to cost “a bit more” than the current one lower end $400 Quest 2, the company’s VP of VR Mark Rabkin reportedly told employees. He added “We have to prove to people that all this power, all these new features are worth it.”
It’s been three years since the release of Quest 2, and Rabkin said there’s less engagement with the VR devices now compared to when the company’s cheapo headset first launched.
The new device will apparently be thinner and according to The Verge’s leak, twice as powerful. This new device should also include improved passthrough technology similar to Quest Pro external full-color camera, opening it up for AR use. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg had already mentioned that Quest 3 should have a mixed reality capability during an investor call last month. According to the report, Meta wants Quest 3 users to walk “effortlessly” through their homes without having to take off their headset.
Users should be able to create some sort of heads-up display, Rabkin said. They will be able to put “anchors and things” on their virtual desktop. The new device will also come with 41 mixed reality games and apps.
There are reportedly two other headsets in development, codenamed “Ventura” and “La Jolla.” The former is intended to be the more “affordable” headset of the two, with a planned release in 2024. This looks set to be priced somewhere between the Quest and Quest Pro VR headsets. La Jolla is the more advanced of the two, and is meant to include more realistic avatars and images.
It’s not all good news for Meta’s VR ambitions. Meta may have recently canceled two other VR headsets, codenamed “Cardiff” and “Hermosa.” The news originally broke in Verge editor Alex Heath’s Command Line newsletter (via Upload VR). Speculation is that the headsets would have been a Meta Quest Pro 2 and a Meta Quest Lite, with the latter having remote controls to focus entirely on hand tracking. It is possible that Meta is still considering these ideas, but not as part of an annual upgrade plan.
Meta has big plaunch for wearables
So far the company has plans for more modest wearablesthis year will see another set of camera glasses that Ray-Ban sponsored the pair that Meta released in 2021. The next big release for Meta’s goggle technology is supposedly coming in 2025, with an actual screen that appears on the inside of the glasses. Himel told employees that these new glasses will have the ability to display incoming text messages, scan QR codes and translate text in real time. These features are all very similar to what Gizmodo saw during CES 2023 from a host of other tech companies working on AR glasses.
This device will reportedly be controlled via a “neural interface” band, with swipe controls to scroll between options. The band will eventually be able to have a “virtual keyboard” to allow users to type out lyrics. The company is also creating a smartwatch of sorts that will allow users another option to control their glasses. The watch will also work like any other smartwatch, with connections to Meta-branded social media apps as well as some health and fitness options.