This is Meta’s AR/VR hardware roadmap for the next four years

Meta plans to release its first pair of smart glasses with a display in 2025 along with a neural interface smartwatch designed to control them, The Verge have learned. Meanwhile, the first pair of full-fledged AR glasses, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg has predicted will eventually be as widely used as mobile phones, are planned for 2027.

The details were shared with thousands of employees at Meta’s Reality Labs division on Tuesday during a roadmap presentation of its AR and VR efforts shared with The Verge. Taken together, they show how Meta plans to continue investing in consumer hardware after a series of setbacks and broader cost-cutting across the company. A spokesperson for Meta declined to comment for this story.

As for the VR roadmap, employees were told that Meta’s flagship Quest 3 headset arriving later this year will be twice as thin, at least twice as powerful, and cost a little more than the $400 Quest 2. Like the recently announced Quest Pro , it will prominently feature mixed reality experiences that don’t fully immerse the user, thanks to front-facing cameras that pass through video of the real world. Meta has sold nearly 20 million Quest headsets to date, Mark Rabkin, the company’s vice president of VR, told employees during the presentation.

(I’ll have more from this meeting and my thoughts on Meta’s roadmap in Thursday’s edition of my Command Line newsletter.)

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Meta’s main challenge with Quest 3, which is internally codenamed Stinson, will be convincing people to pay “a little more” money than the cost of the existing Quest 2, according to Rabkin. “We’ve got to get enthusiasts fired up about it,” he told employees Tuesday. “We have to prove to people that all this power, all these new features are worth it.”

Meta has sold nearly 20 million Quest headsets to date

Mixed reality will be a big selling point, and Rabkin said there will be a new “smart guardian” to help users navigate the real world while wearing the device. “The main north star for the team was from the moment you put this headset on, the mixed reality has to make it feel better, easier, more natural,” he said. “You can easily walk through your house and know you can see perfectly. You can put anchors and things on the desktop. You can have the coffee. You can stay there much longer.”

There will be 41 new apps and games for Quest 3, including new mixed reality experiences to take advantage of the updated hardware, Rabkin said. In 2024, he said Meta plans to ship a more “accessible” headset codenamed Ventura. “The goal for this headset is very simple: pack the most power we can at the most attractive price point in the VR consumer market.”

Rabkin did not say about a second generation of the recent Meta Quest Pro, which received bad reviews from The Verge and others, coming anytime soon. The closest thing that sounds like a successor will be “way into the future” after Ventura in 2024, when Meta plans its most advanced headset codenamed La Jolla with photorealistic code avatars.

“We want to do it at higher resolution for job use and real nail work, text and things like that,” Rabkin said of La Jolla. “We want to take a lot of the comfort from the Quest Pro and how it sits on the head and the split architecture and bring it in for comfort.”

Meanwhile, he acknowledged that the current Quest is struggling to keep new users engaged. “Right now we’re in our third year with Quest 2,” he told employees. “And unfortunately, the newer cohorts that are coming in, the people who bought it last Christmas, they’re just not as interested in it” or engaged as “the people who bought it early.”

Rabkin pushed staff to make sharing VR content on other platforms “trivial,” redesign the Quest store to make it more “dynamic,” and give developers the ability to do things like automated promotions.

The current Quest struggles to keep new users engaged

“We need to get better at growth and preservation and resurrection,” he said. “We need to get better at social and actually make these things more reliable, more intuitive, so people can trust it.”

Even with these struggles, Meta has built an early lead in virtual reality hardware. But the big fluctuations in the next few years speak to the serious competition that is about to come. Apple is expected to announce an advanced virtual reality headset sometime this year, while Sony has just released the well-received PSVR 2 for console gamers. Meanwhile, Apple, Google, Snap and others are racing toward something even bigger: augmented reality glasses—and that’s where Meta hopes its early efforts in mixed reality will really pay off.

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Aside from the Quest line, Meta also has thousands of employees building future AR glasses and wrist devices to control them. The main difference from VR is that the company intends for AR glasses to eventually be used throughout the day as a replacement for smartphones. Zuckerberg has called them the “holy grail” device that will “redefine our relationship with technology” by the end of this decade.

During Tuesday’s roadmap presentation, Alex Himel, the company’s vice president of AR, laid out the plan for a flurry of devices through 2027. The first launch will come in the fall with the second generation of Meta’s camera-equipped smart glasses it launched in 2021 with Luxottica, the parent company of Ray-Ban.

By 2025, Himel said the third generation of the smart glasses will come with a screen he called a “finder” to see incoming text messages, scan QR codes and translate text from another language in real time. The glasses come with a “neural interface” band that allows the wearer to control the glasses through hand gestures, such as swiping their fingers on an imaginary D-pad. Ultimately, he said the band will allow the user to use a virtual keyboard and type at the same words per minute that cell phones allow.

The smartwatch will integrate with Meta’s social media apps and offer health and fitness features

While Meta set its plans for a smartwatch with a detachable screen and cameras, it is still working on another smartwatch that will accompany the 2025 glasses, Himel confirmed.

“We don’t want people to have to choose between an input device on their wrist and smartwatch functionality that they’ve come to love,” he said. “So we’re building a neural interface watch. Number one, this device will do input: input to control your glasses, input to control functionality on your wrist, and input to control the world around you.”

Himel showed employees a demo of the glasses where the cameras on the glasses during a video call showed the user’s front-facing perspective at the same time as a selfie view was shown from the camera on the watch. He said the smartwatch will be an optional upgrade from a connected neural band that comes with the glasses, and will also integrate with Meta’s social media apps like WhatsApp and offer health and fitness features.

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Meta’s first real pair of AR glasses, which the company has been developing in-house for 8 years under the code name Orion, are more technically advanced, expensive and designed to project high-quality holograms of avatars onto the real world. There will be an “internal launch” for employees to test the glasses in 2024, according to Himel. A version won’t be released to the public until 2027, when Meta will launch what Himel called its “Innovation” line of AR glasses for early adopters along with a “Scale” line of the less advanced smart glasses and the second generation of his neural glasses. smartwatch.

Himel framed the market opportunity around the nearly two billion pairs of regular glasses and hundreds of millions of smartwatches sold each year. “If we can put a great product on the shelves at a good price with the right value, we think we can get into these upgrade cycles and get a lot of growth from our devices,” he told the room. “It’s up to us to deliver.”

“A business unlike anything we’ve seen on mobile phones before”

Meta plans to rely on its existing advertising business model to help it monetize these future devices. Himel said the company believes it can earn a higher average revenue per user than it currently does in social media, thanks to a combination of selling virtual goods, optional add-ons like cloud backup and AR ads.

“We should be able to run a very good advertising business,” he said. “I think it’s easy to imagine how ads will appear in space when you’re wearing AR glasses. Our ability to track conversions, which is where there has been a lot of focus as a company, should also be close to 100 percent.”

“If we hit anything close to projections, it will be a huge business,” he said. “A business unlike anything we’ve seen on mobile phones before.”

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