Virtual reality and even the metaverse may have taken a back seat in the news, but that doesn’t mean they’ve vanished. The presence of virtual reality was definitely felt at the ongoing Gamescom trade show, and there could be even more big news in the coming months. Apart from HTC Vive and Oculus, there are very few big names in the VR market these days, though the latter has been absorbed by its parent company’s Meta brand. Some may be mourning the loss of Oculus, but Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is assuring fans and customers that it is still in the game, and its CEO has just given a rough release date for its next VR headset.
Meta’s decision to retire the Oculus brand is somewhat disappointing, given that Oculus has a more established identity in the VR market. It’s not surprising, given what companies typically do after an acquisition. It did raise concerns about Meta abandoning VR, which would imply a retreat from its metaverse mission.
Of course, this is not the case, and Meta appears to be ready to reveal what it has been working on for so long. Since the device was teased at Meta’s Connect 2021 conference, rumors about a new headset codenamed Project Cambria have circulated for nearly a year. There are still no official details, but we might not have to wait long to learn more about Meta’s first VR headset under its own name.
Meta Quest Pro may have a hefty price tag
Mark Zuckerberg revealed in an interview with Joe Regan on his podcast (via Spotify) that Meta’s next VR headset will be available in October. That could happen during the company’s annual Connect event, though the date for this year’s conference has yet to be announced. More importantly, Meta’s CEO revealed some key features of the device, which could be a game changer for the metaverse.
While there are currently a few VR headsets that include eye tracking, the Project Cambria device will take it a step further by including facial tracking. This feature would be useful for controlling your avatar’s facial expression based on your own. Those nuances will be crucial in creating a credible metaverse social experience. Some may find this creepy or uncomfortable, especially since you will no longer be able to hide your emotions behind your expressionless avatar. However, that is how we interact in face-to-face situations.
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Previous rumors about the headset point to features such as higher-resolution displays and pass-through cameras for augmented reality. Of course, the device will not be called Project Cambria, but it could be marketed as the Meta Quest Pro or Meta Quest 2 Pro, the first Meta headset that isn’t an Oculus rebrand. That would imply that it would be a stand-alone headset, as opposed to the retired Oculus Rift line, which required a PC connection. It is also expected to be more expensive, at least when compared to the $400 Meta Quest 2.