Meta Cambria, Quest 3: What to expect from Meta’s next VR headset

this Oculus Quest 2 (now called Finish task 2) has become a surprisingly successful VR headset and remains ours favorite VR device despite almost two years. What will Meta, former Facebook, do with his encore? According to a recent report by The Information, the company is expected to release four new headsets over the next few years. The headset announced last year with the name “Cambria Project“Is on board in 2022, but don’t expect it to be a true sequel to Quest 2.

Instead, Project Cambria looks like a much more expensive and advanced type of hybrid AR / VR headset, a bridging device that … could be an amazing VR device, but it can also enable mixed reality combining real world video with VR using enhanced cameras.

Cambria will also add new sensor technology (in particular eye tracking) that can introduce new possibilities for interacting in VR and animating your avatar. However, eye tracking also raises questions about data privacy.

Standalone, like Quest 2

Yes, the Cambria looks like a standalone device like the Quest 2. But, like the Quest 2, expect it to optionally connect to PCs and, to some extent, phones. Early reported design mockups show a design that feels smaller than the Quest 2, but according to the latest reports from The Information, a larger battery could mean more weight. Meta has already confirmed that the headset will be more compact where the lenses meet the face, using “pancake lenses” that can shorten the distance needed to create convincing 3D effects.

It feels like a larger battery could fit on the back of the headset, creating a design more reminiscent of Microsoft Hololens 2, augmented reality goggles than the previous Meta Oculus VR goggles. VR devices such as HTC Vive Focus 3 (and own Meta battery belt accessory for Quest 2) put the batteries on the back of the headset as well.

While recent reports such as those from The Information refer to Cambria as “a laptop for your face,” implying more self-sufficient power, expect the headset to pair with computers for more powerful applications, similar to how Quest 2 can now do .

More sensors

Mark Zuckerberg, v interview with CNET last year he told me that the professional version of Quest would focus on more sensors. Eye and face tracking is already known, but it’s possible Cambria will allow more health and fitness tracking. Fitness was the primary focus of Meta’s VR platforms, and the company has already acquired fitness subscription service that measures your heart rate with a paired Apple Watch. (This Oculus Movement app syncs with Apple Health). Meta is reportedly working on its own as well own smartwatch.

How will reality mix?

Project Cambria’s enhanced external cameras will capture color video in passing by displaying it on the headset’s internal display. Quest 2 can “see through” and show the outside world, but in grainy black and white video material. Quest 2 overlays a VR part with this channel, such as room boundaries, creating a kind of mixed reality experience. Expect Meta Cambria to do this much more realistically.

I have I have already tried one of the examples of this technology on very high-class VR goggles produced by the Finnish company Varjo. Varjo XR-3 uses lidar and cameras to scan the real world; then places VR in it in a way that can look almost as convincing as the effects in AR kits made by Microsoft and Magic Leap. I expect Meta Cambria to try something very similar.

Meta aspirations for future AR glasses not yet realized, but Cambria could become a developer toolkit for creating AR experiences that could also use hand (and eye) tracking.

Facebook’s next VR headset will feature face tracking and eye tracking.

Facebook

How does eye tracking work?

We don’t know the details, but most VR eye tracking works in a similar way: infrared cameras measure eye movement, and some trackers also record images of the eye. Eye tracking does some pretty useful things: preferred rendering can produce better graphics with less processing power, showing only the highest resolution details where the dimple of your eyes is looking, potentially meaning better battery life or performance in a smaller headset.

Eye tracking can also be used to create more realistic eye contact with avatars, and to combine with hand tracking and controllers to improve control accuracy. It could even mean better accessibility for people who are not fully mobile, using only visual controls to operate the VR interface.

It looks like Meta is adding cameras for face tracking as well as eye tracking which can be used to map emotions and facial expressions into avatars. But all of this tracking raises additional privacy questions. While Meta has promised transparency and restrictions on the use of tracking data, Facebook’s history with user data abuse leaves many concerns.

Odds are, it won’t be as much like a gaming console

If the Cambria Headset is over $ 800, there’s no way it’s going to be as popular as the Quest 2 right now. The meta seems to suggest that’s not what Cambria is about, which means game developers may not be as focused on new equipment.

Facebook has a history of funding multiple gaming and graphics projects on its VR platforms, but it looks like Cambria may not be up for a new debut Games. Instead, Meta will likely focus on a wide variety of business, training, fitness, and AR-crossover applications to help build it. visions of the metaverse. In that sense, the current owners of Quest 2 may have had the best VR game console for a while (at least until PlayStation VR 2 arrives).

The latest Meta Cambria report from The Information confirms that the greatest strengths of this headset – improved display resolution, eye tracking, mixed reality transmitting – will be tools to advance Meta’s vision for VR work and the future. Look for competitive, high-end VR and AR products such as Vive Focus 3, Hololens 2 and Varjo headsets, where professional use is a clear goal. Meta has had great success speaking to players, but it will be more difficult to convince workplaces to adopt its technology.

Quest 2 and controllers

Quest 2, released in 2020, is still one of our favorite headsets. It may not be replaced until 2023.

Scott Stein / CNET

Should you buy Quest 2 now or wait for future Quest 3?

The real successor to Quest 2 may not take place until 2023, according to recent reports. Quest 3 is expected to be a headset that competes at the same price as Quest 2 and is likely to replace it, but not this year. However, Cambria is not expected to be such a headset. If the Cambria Headset is as expensive as Meta claims, it likely won’t compete with the Quest 2 for most buyers. Instead, it could be more about introducing more advanced features (eye tracking, mixed reality, better display quality) that could later translate into cheaper products.

Keep in mind the concepts of “Cambria” and “Quest 3” and this will help you plan your purchasing decisions. Cambria may only be attractive to enthusiasts and professional users with money to spend. I don’t expect any VR headset to be able to compete with the $ 300 Quest 2 price tag anytime soon.

The Quest 2 is still a fantastic headset for its price, and Meta regularly updates the software with new features. Unless you’re a pro wanting a top-notch headset at all costs, you probably don’t have to wait to see what Cambria will happen this year. However, if you have a PlayStation 5, you can wait and see what PlayStation VR 2 it’s like.

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