Guess what Meta’s virtual/augmented reality team has got cooking up? We were already aware that the Meta Quest 3 was likely being planned for this year, but the company also apparently plans to come out with limited “smart glasses” in 2025, with full AR glasses following by 2027. Of course, Meta is planning to pack its upcoming AR devices with ads — their words, not ours.
This info comes to us courtesy of The Verge, which got its hands on a leaked presentation Meta sent to its Reality Labs division on Tuesday. Perhaps the most interesting piece of tech is the codenamed “Orion” true AR glasses, so let’s start there.
When is Meta releasing AR glasses?
Meta’s Orion glasses have been in 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 ads business. VP of AR Alex Himel said “I think it’s easy to imagine how ads would show up in space when you have AR glasses on.” 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 like cloud backups, Himel called this plan for ads “a business unlike anything we’ve seen on mobile phones before.” The company’s “metaverse” ambitions have proved to be an incredible money sink so far, but a boost to Meta’s flagging ad business could be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We could be looking at a future where you just walk around with AR glasses on, seeing a stream of advertisements pop up in real space based on where you are or what you’re looking at.
What does Meta have planned for the next few years in VR?
All of Meta’s future products are threaded with this promise of augmented reality tech, even its VR headsets. This shouldn’t be a surprise, especially because it was the company’s main talking point during its 2021 Connect showcase. The Meta Quest 3, currently codenamed “Stinson,” is expected to cost “a bit more” than the current lower-end $US400 ($555) Quest 2, company 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 the Quest 2, and Rabkin said there’s less engagement with its 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 enhanced passthrough technology similar to the Quest Pro’s full colour external camera setup, opening it up to AR use cases. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg had already mentioned that the Quest 3 should have some mixed reality capability during an investor call last month. According to the report, Meta wants Quest 3 users to walk around “effortlessly” through their homes without having to take off the headset.
Users should be able to create a kind of heads-up display, Rabkin said. They’ll be able to put “anchors and things” on their virtual desktop. The new device is also supposed to ship with 41 mixed reality games and apps.
There’s reportedly two other headsets in development, codenamed “Ventura” and “La Jolla.” The former is supposed to be the more “accessible” headset of the two, with a planned release in 2024. This seems poised to be priced somewhere between the Quest and Quest Pro VR headsets. La Jolla is the more advanced of the two, and is supposed to include more realistic avatars and visuals.
It’s not all good news for Meta’s VR ambitions, though. Meta might have recently outright cancelled two other VR headsets, codenamed “Cardiff” and “Hermosa.” The news originally dropped in Verge editor Alex Heath’s Command Line newsletter (via UploadVR). Speculation is that the headsets would have been a Meta Quest Pro 2 and a Meta Quest Lite, with the latter ditching controllers to focus entirely on hand tracking. It’s possible that Meta might still be considering these ideas, but not as part of an annual upgrade schedule.
Meta has big plans for wearables
As far as what the company has planned for more modest wearables, this year is going to see another set of camera glasses like the Ray-Ban sponsored pair that Meta released in 2021. The next big release for Meta’s glasses tech will reportedly come in 2025, though, with an actual screen appearing on the inside of the glasses. Himel told employees these new glasses will have the ability to show 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 bevy of other tech companies working on AR glasses.
This device will reportedly be controlled via a “neural interface” band, with swiping controls to flick between selections. The band should eventually be capable of sporting a “virtual keyboard” to let users type out texts. The company is also creating some kind of smartwatch that will allow users another option to control their glasses. The watch will also act like any other smartwatch, with connections to Meta-brand social media apps as well as some health and fitness capabilities.
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