Meta’s Roadmap for AR/VR Hardware Through 2027
An internal presentation by Meta executives detailing the company’s near-term roadmap has leaked out and shows Meta is planning three new Quest headsets, augmented reality glasses in 2027 along with a ‘neural wristband’ smartwatch.
The Verge reports that Meta executives invited Reality Labs employees for a detailed presentation on the company’s roadmap for virtual reality and augmented reality products for the next four years. The presentation of the roadmap was leaked to The Verge which did a detailed post on it.
Meta is planning to release its smartglasses in 2025. According to the report, these smartglasses will feature a display and a neural interface smartwatch for controlling the glasses. In spite of recent setbacks and steep cost-cutting measures, the roadmap affirms that Meta will continue making investments in consumer hardware.
Below is a summary of Meta’s AR and VR roadmap as presented to staff: –
In the virtual reality roadmap, Meta told staff that the Quest 3 headset will be launched later in the year and will be two times as thin and twice as powerful as the current Meta Quest 2 headset and will cost slightly more.
Quest 3 has been known for quite some time through a series of leaks. Meta CTO Mark Bosworth also announced the headset in 2022 although he didn’t reveal the name of the device.
The Meta roadmap, as published by The Verge revealed some interesting new details about the Quest 3 headset. The most important improvements are in the form factor and processing power. The headset will also feature an advanced mixed reality functionality with a color passthrough just like the one in Meta Quest Pro. It will also cost more than Meta Quest 2 which currently retails at $430 for the 256GB version.
The Ventura Headset
Meta will also be launching a pared-down and more accessible, price-wise, standalone consumer-focused headset in 2024 where Meta is expected to make some performance and feature tradeoffs to realize a lower price point that will push the headset to the mass market. The Quest 2 headset sold over 15 million copies with prices ranging from $300 to $400 for the 128GB and 256GB versions respectively.
Meta’s VP for VR Mark Rabkin has made statements suggesting that the company will market the Quest 3 headset to VR enthusiasts rather than mainstream consumers. The company acknowledged that the most recent buyers of its VR headsets had not shown much enthusiasm in using the devices over the long haul compared to its early adopters.
Meta is also planning to launch a possible Quest Pro successor but this will arrive “way out in the future” after the company has launched its ‘Lite’ Ventura headset in 2024. The Quest Pro successor has been codenamed La Jolla.
The La Jolla headset reportedly supports Pixel Codec Avatars, a generative and photorealistic avatar system that Meta has been working on for years and which will have implications for applications such as VR conferencing. Zuckerberg considers Codec Avatars a transformative innovation with huge potential for realistic virtual interactions.
Rabkin told Meta employees that the company wants to make the Quest Pro successor a higher resolution headset for work use and for the “nail work, text and things like that.” Meta will incorporate many of the comfort features from Quest Pro, including how the headset sits on the wearer’s head and the split architecture to La Jolla for extra comfort.
Meta revealed a number of virtual reality prototypes in mid-2022 and these are likely the technological predecessors of the upcoming La Jolla headset. One of those prototypes was codenamed Butterscotch and featured retina resolution support. There was also a Mirror Lake concept prototype.
Augmented Reality Ambitions
Meta’s Augmented Reality chief Alex Himel gave a talk at the presentation of the company’s roadmap detailing the three devices the company has planned in the AR headset and smart glasses categories.
The company will begin with the launch of the second generation of its Ray-Ban Stories data glasses slated for the fall of 2023.
Meta is planning to launch the third generation of the smart glasses in 2025. These will be Meta’s first smart glasses with a display. They will come with a wristband, sold separately, for controlling the headset. Meta’s Himel called the smartglasses’ display a “viewfinder” which will perform various functions including scanning QR codes, displaying incoming text messages and translating text in real time.
The wristband will function as both a neural interface and an input device. A prototype of this was unveiled in 2021.
The prototype showed the headset is capable of picking up neural signals on the wrist and converting them into commands via AI. This allows for the operation of the headset even with the subtlest of finger movements and swipe gestures.
Meta will also be launching a smartwatch simultaneously with the smartglasses. The smartwatch will be an upgrade over the company’s current technically simpler wristband and will have a neural interface and smartwatch features.
Meta says it wants to combine the smartwatch and input functionalities, something some users have gotten used to with its previous wristband. The company is therefore developing a neural interface watch. The smartwatch will provide integration with the other Meta apps like WhatsApp. It will also support fitness and health features.
Meta’s first true Augmented Reality glasses should hit the market by 2027 according to the company’s roadmap. The true AR glasses project is codenamed Orion has been under development for the past eight years. These AR glasses will be more technically advanced and also costlier. Unlike current AR glasses, they will be able to project high-quality holograms into the real-world/physical environment.
The 2027 commercial launch will be preceded by an internal launch for employees in 2024 geared at testing the glasses. The smartglasses will primarily target enthusiasts and early adopters.
Meta is gearing for the launch of two product lines in 2027. These are:-
- “Innovation” for Augmented Reality glasses
- “Scale” for the less advanced smartglasses
Meta is also planning to release the second generation of its smartwatch in 2027.
Meta believes there is huge potential on both the smartwatch and the smartglasses market. Himel told staff that the company will get onto upgrade cycles and robust growth in the company’s hardware if it can offer consumers a great XR product at a great price.
Get a comprehensive read of Meta’s AR and VR roadmap on The Verge.