Meta is planning to launch a new version of its Quest virtual reality headset this year, followed by two more advanced models later on.
This is according to a detailed roadmap presentation, obtained by The Verge, that Meta shared with its employees on Tuesday.
The new Quest 3 headset will be two times thinner and at least twice as powerful as the company’s current model, Quest 2. It will also be slightly more expensive (Quest 2 retails for $400), employees were told during the presentation. The company also plans to have 41 new apps and games shipping for the Quest 3.
That’s just the start, though. In 2024, Meta plans to launch a cheaper headset codenamed Ventura. And while there are no plans for a followup for the $1,499 Meta Quest Pro which launched late last year, the company does plan to launch a more advanced headset sometime after Ventura. Codenamed La Jolla, it will feature photorealistic Codec Avatars.
A very interesting tidbit from the presentation came from Mark Rabkin, Meta’s vice president for VR, who told employees that the company sold nearly 20 million Quest headsets so far. But he also said that the people who bought Quest 2 recently are “just not as into it” as the users who bought it earlier.
This is interesting. We know that Meta is losing money on its virtual and augmented reality efforts, and we’ve seen reports about users not being too eager to return to some of Meta’s VR experiences after first trying it out, but it’s different to hear that from the company itself.
Meta is also planning a followup to its augmented reality glasses, co-created with Ray-Ban’s parent Luxottica, as early as this fall. We didn’t like the first version, but given that Meta didn’t share any sales numbers, it’s hard to say whether they’ve made a big impact on users (I certainly haven’t seen them worn by anyone). There are few details about the second version of the glasses, but Meta is already planning a third generation for 2025, which will have a “viewfinder,” allowing users to view incoming text messages, translate text, and scan QE codes. They’ll also have a “neural interface” band that will allow users to control them with hand gestures.
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Finally, Meta is also planning a smartwatch that will work with the smart glasses, positioning it as an optional upgrade over the neural interface band.
There’s more. While Ray-Ban Stories and their immediate successors are fairly limited in what they can do, Meta is also working on a pair of true augmented reality glasses, codenamed Orion. The company plans to launch these internally for employees in 2024, but doesn’t plan to release them to the public until 2027.
You have to hand it to Meta: Despite recent layoffs (and possibly more ahead), and a lukewarm reception of many of its VR and AR efforts (including complaints from employees), the company appears to be doubling down on its efforts to build the Metaverse.
Meta’s VR and AR efforts will certainly make for an interesting race with Apple, which is reportedly planning to launch its first mixed reality headset this June.