Meta Quest 3 and Beyond: Key Announcements from Meta Connect 2023
Meta unveiled its vision for the future of augmented and virtual reality at Meta Connect 2023. The annual conference (back in person this year) brought big reveals around Meta's latest VR headset, AI innovations, and teases of future AR tech.
The Meta Quest 3 headset took center stage with its upgraded specs and new mixed reality capabilities. On the software side, Meta showcased new integrations, AI projects, and virtual assistant technology. While details were slim, Meta also teased its partnership with Ray-Ban on next-gen smart glasses for livestreaming and AI assistance.
Enter the Meta Quest 3: The Next Generation of VR
The star of Meta Connect 2023 was undoubtedly the official unveiling of the Meta Quest 3 VR headset. Set to launch on October 10th, pre-orders are now open for the next generation of Meta's popular Quest line. The Quest 3 touts a range of upgrades and new capabilities:
- Pricing and Storage - The Quest 3 will retail starting at $499 for a 128GB model, and $649 for 512GB. Every pre-order will include a copy of the game Asgard's Wrath 2.
- Hardware Upgrades - The Quest 3 utilizes the new Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chip for improved performance. It also features higher resolution displays packing 30% more pixels than prior models, pancake lenses for a slimmer design, and new controllers with haptic feedback.
- Passthrough Mixed Reality - With onboard cameras, the Quest 3 offers full-color passthrough mixed reality that blends the physical and virtual.
- Charging Dock - A new $129.99 charging dock conveniently charges both the Quest 3 headset and controllers.
With its upgraded hardware, mixed reality capabilities, and expanding content library, the Meta Quest 3 aims to push VR to new heights and offer the most advanced consumer VR experience on the market.
Meta Quest 3 Pushes Mixed Reality to New Frontiers
The Meta Quest 3 aims to deliver groundbreaking mixed reality capabilities through features like passthrough video and environment mapping.
- Immersive Games Using MR - Titles like Lego Bricktales, Les Milles, and Stranger Things will implement mixed reality gameplay. Over half of the 100+ new and upgraded Quest games this year will utilize MR features.
- Persistent Virtual Objects - Users will be able to interact with virtual objects pinned to real-world surfaces through "augments." This means persistent access to objects like Instagram feeds or game posters to jump into experiences quickly.
- AR Decorations - Augments will also enable decorative virtual items and scene elements from games to be overlaid in real-world spaces for an augmented reality effect.
- Seamless Physical-Virtual Interactions - Hand tracking, environment mapping, camera-based passthrough, and relocalization technology allow seamless interactions between real-world environments and virtual objects.
With these innovations, the Meta Quest 3 brings an unprecedented level of hybrid physical-virtual play. The possibilities span multi-dimensional games to functional virtual objects anchored in reality. Meta is paving the way for mixed reality to enhance gaming, entertainment, and productivity.
Software Updates to Build a More Immersive Metaverse
While the Meta Quest 3 took center stage, Meta Connect 2023 also brought news of various software updates to enhance the VR experience and move toward the vision of an immersive metaverse.
Horizon Worlds Social Updates - Meta's social VR platform is more improvements to it's 3D avatars. Adding more additions like varying body types, makeup, face paint, hair colors and more.
Meta Quest+ - Meta announced that buyers of the 512GB Meta Quest 3 will receive 6 months of Meta Quest+ for free. This subscription service provides access to a rotating selection of VR games. The October titles for Quest+ subscribers are Onward and Little Cities. By bundling this service, Meta aims to give Quest 3 buyers a steady stream of curated VR content.
- Xbox Cloud Gaming Integration - In a big move, Xbox Cloud Gaming is coming to Meta's VR headsets. Users will be able to stream and play Xbox titles on massive virtual screens in VR.
These software improvements show Meta's commitment to making VR experiences more immersive, social, and practical for everyday use cases. The integration of popular services like Xbox Cloud Gaming also continues Meta's push to bring third-party entertainment and gaming content into the folds of VR.
Immersive Fitness and Wellness Apps Come to Quest
Meta announced several updates related to fitness and wellness VR apps at Connect 2023:
- Supernatural Price Drop - The popular VR workout app Supernatural is now $9.99/month, down from $18.99. This makes intense VR workouts more affordable.
- New Headspace Experience - An immersive Headspace experience is coming soon to Quest 3, offering a virtual meditation and mindfulness "playground" to relax and recharge in VR.
- Zumba Partnership for FitXR - FitXR is collaborating with Zumba to bring 32 new dance classes led by Zumba instructors to its VR fitness app. This partnership brings exciting new workout options.
These additions expand the library of engaging fitness and wellness experiences available in VR. With apps like Supernatural and FitXR making workouts more fun and Headspace providing immersive mindfulness, the Quest platform is becoming a destination for healthy living.
Meta's Ray-Ban Smart Glasses: Augmented Reality Gets a Fashionable Upgrade
Meta Connect 2023 also provided a sneak peek at the company's augmented reality roadmap and initiatives.
- Ray-Ban Smart Glasses Teased - Meta teased its next generation of Ray-Ban smart glasses, though details remain scarce. The partnership with Ray-Ban aims to make smart glasses more stylish and appealing.
- Livestreaming Capabilities - The new Ray-Ban glasses will allow users to discreetly livestream direct point-of-view footage to Facebook and Instagram. This provides an early example of AR's content creation potential.
- AI Assistant Integration - The smart glasses will have access to a Meta AI assistant that can answer questions and more. Meta aims to integrate computer vision and AI to make the glasses smarter over time.
- Pricing and Availability - The Ray-Ban smart glasses will start at $299 and are available for preorder now, shipping on October 17th. Multiple frame and lens options will be offered for customization.
Meta Showcases Major Advances in AI Technology
Meta unveiled significant progress in developing AI technologies to power more natural and human-like interactions:
- Emu Image Generator - Emu is Meta's AI system for quickly generating and editing images. It will enable features like custom avatar stickers and stylized edits for Instagram photos.
- Meta AI Assistant - A multi-purpose AI assistant technology was demonstrated, capable of answering questions and holding natural conversations.
- Unique AI Personas - Meta created 28 distinct AI chatbots with unique personalities tailored for specific use cases, like shopping or creative needs. These personalities are based on real world celebrities and influencers like Snoop Dog.
- AI Studio - A new platform that will allow businesses to build customized AI chatbots for Meta's messaging apps to enhance customer service.
- AI Sandbox - A future sandbox will let anyone experiment with creating their own AI, with plans to bring user-created AI into Meta's metaverse.
- AI NPCs - AI non-player characters will populate Meta's Horizon Worlds to make interactions more lifelike.
Meta is clearly invested in developing AI that can communicate naturally, demonstrate unique personalities, and add value across both its apps and metaverse platforms. The technology has the potential to enhance how people connect with brands, virtual characters, and each other.
Meta Connect 2023 gave an exciting look into the future of virtual and augmented reality. With the unveiling of the Meta Quest 3, Meta has once again pushed the boundaries of consumer VR hardware and experiences. The Quest 3's upgrades like mixed reality offer new levels of immersion, while software improvements continue to enhance social interactions and bring popular entertainment to VR.
Meanwhile, Meta's AI projects illustrate how artificial intelligence can make metaverse interactions more human-like through technologies like natural language processing and computer vision.
On the AR front, details remain limited but Meta's partnership with Ray-Ban on next-gen smart glasses provides an early glimpse at the potential for stylish, wearable tech embedded with AI. Meta Connect showcased Meta's ambitious vision for bringing augmented reality mainstream.
While a fully-realized metaverse is still years away, Meta Connect 2023 took practical steps toward that future with the tangible consumer tech announced. The Quest 3 and Ray-Ban glasses will put more immersive experiences and gateways to the metaverse directly in users' hands and on their faces. As Meta continues innovating with hardware and AI, its metaverse vision is coming further into focus.