The first Apple Headset launch is expected to happen later this year, following an initial unveiling at WWDC in June. While we wait, a leak has given a glimpse into the AR/VR plans of one of Apple’s rivals in this field, Facebook owner Meta.
These plans include multiple headset models, smart glasses with a “neural interface,” and a smartwatch that can be paired with glasses …
Background: Anticipated Apple Headset launch
After years of speculation, it’s now looking increasingly likely that 2023 is the year when we’ll see the first head-worn Apple device.
We’re expecting what may be branded the Reality Pro to be revealed at WWDC, before the actual Apple headset launch later in the year.
Apple Glasses, in contrast, are likely yet to be years away.
Admittedly Meta isn’t trying too hard to keep these plans a secret: The Verge reports that they were announced in a presentation to “thousands” of staff, so it was inevitable that they’d be leaked to the media.
Meta plans to release its first pair of smart glasses with a display in 2025 alongside a neural interface smartwatch designed to control them, The Verge has learned. Meanwhile, its first pair of full-fledged AR glasses, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg has predicted will eventually be as widely used as mobile phones, is planned for 2027.
The details were shared with thousands of employees in Meta’s Reality Labs division on Tuesday during a roadmap presentation of its AR and VR efforts that was shared with The Verge.
2023: Quest 3
The first launch, sometime later this year, will be the Quest 3. The AR/VR successor to the existing $400 VR-only Quest 2 (less on Amazon) will be much thinner, much more powerful, have front-facing cameras to support mixed-reality content, and cost slightly more.
Meta’s VR head Mark Rabkin said that the cameras will provide a sufficiently good view of the user’s surroundings in AR mode so that they will be able to safely walk around their home.
Also expected this fall is a second-gen version of Ray-Ban Stories, which are sunglasses with integrated headphones and a camera.
2024: New headset, codename Ventura
Ventura appears to be positioned between the Quest 3 and the existing Quest Pro.
A more “accessible” headset codenamed Ventura. “The goal for this headset is very simple: pack the biggest punch we can at the most attractive price point in the VR consumer market.”
2025: Third-gen smart glasses & smartwatch
While the company’s partnership with Ray-Ban has so far produced nothing approaching smart glasses, that’s apparently set to change in a couple of years.
In 2025, the third generation of the smart glasses will ship with a display that he called a “viewfinder” for viewing incoming text messages, scanning QR codes, and translating text from another language in real time. The glasses will come with a “neural interface” band that allows the wearer to control the glasses through hand movements, such as swiping fingers on an imaginary D-pad. Eventually, he said the band will let the wearer use a virtual keyboard and type at the same words per minute as what mobile phones allow.
This is set to be accompanied by a smartwatch that can interface with the glasses.
2027: True AR smart glasses, codename Orien
What sounds like a similar concept to Apple Glasses is set to launch in 2027. These will be “technically advanced, expensive, and designed to project high-quality holograms of avatars onto the real world.”
The company has been working on the project for eight years, and plans to begin internal tests with employees in 2024.
Unknown date: La Jolla (Quest Pro successor?)
No date has yet been set for Meta’s most advanced headset yet, codenamed La Jolla.
“We want to make it higher resolution for work use and really nail work, text and things like that,” Rabkin said about La Jolla. “We want to take a lot of the comfort things from Quest Pro and how it sits on your head and the split architecture and bring that in for comfort.”
Earlier this week, we saw an Xiaomi prototype of a very clunky pair of smart glasses.
Image: Bram Van Oost/Unsplash
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