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Meta’s Planning to Launch Four New VR Headset Types Over the Next Two Years



Meta's Planning to Launch Four New VR Headset Types Over the Next Two Years

If Meta wants to see its metaverse vision become a reality, it needs to get more people into VR headsets – because the majority of the examples that we’ve seen of Zuck and Co.’s imagined metaverse thus far involve fully immersive virtual reality, and digital spaces that enable an endless range of interactions.

In line with this, Meta is reportedly planning to release four new VR headsets over the next two years, according to a new report from The Information based on Meta’s plans.

As per The Information:

Meta’s planning to release Project Cambria, a high-end VR and mixed-reality headset that it’s billing as a device for the future of work, around September, according to a person familiar with the matter. Cambria was originally supposed to come out last year but its launch was delayed by supply chain and other pandemic-related issues.”

Indeed, Meta provided a first look at the Cambria headset late last year, which appears to be a more enclosed type device.

The Cambria headset will reportedly include high-resolution image quality, for more granular applications, while it will also enable the wearer to view their real-world surroundings using outward-facing cameras, which could facilitate all new mixed-reality experiences.

Cambria will also be the first of Meta’s headsets to include eye-tracking and facial expression recognition features, which will provide even more capacity to engage within the digital environment.

It seems, at present, that the more advanced model is aimed at professional users, with a specific focus on facilitating remote meetings and collaboration, while also enabling more general use VR applications at the same time.

Following the launch of the first iteration of Cambria, Meta’s also planning another, even more advanced VR headset type, currently slated for release in 2024, while it will also release two new versions of its popular Quest headset in 2023 and 2024 respectively.

At the same time, Meta’s AR glasses, currently titled Project Aria, are tentatively scheduled for retail release in 2024, and will essentially expand upon its Ray Ban Stories initial smart glasses release (Note: Meta’s now also referring to its AR glasses as ‘Project Nazare’, which could mean that there are also two variations of these in development as well).

The timeline will see Meta making a big push on VR, in alignment with its metaverse shift, which will ideally both accelerate VR take-up, and help Meta make more money faster from its next-level digital environments – because right now, Meta shareholders are understandably a little uneasy about Meta’s decade out timeline for seeing any major returns on its metaverse efforts.

As part of its Q1 earnings report, which Meta shared last week, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained the company’s long term vision, and how many of its projects currently in development won’t pay off for some time:

“We’re now basically funding product teams to be building our future products, two or three versions into the future. Because when you’re designing hardware, these are multiyear plans that you’re building and kind of figuring out all the pieces that are going to go into that […] It’s not going to be until those products really hit the market and scale in a meaningful way and this market ends up being big that this will be a big revenue or profit contributor to the business. So that’s why I’ve given the color on past calls that I expect us to be later this decade, right? Maybe primarily, this is laying the groundwork for what I expect to be a very exciting 2030s, when this is sort of more established as the primary computing platform at that point.”

So Meta itself is under no illusions about this being a long-term strategy, with the metaverse set to take on many iterations before it becomes the fully-functional, immersive engagement experience that the company envisions (take note, for all those peddling their NFT projects and similar, claiming that the metaverse is already here).

But that also means that company’s shareholders will need to hold tight for some time, as costs and expenses continue to rise, in the hopes that Zuckerberg’s grand vision does actually come to fruition.

Which it seems like it will, but even so, the market is generally not a patient environment, which is why Meta is now looking to reduce costs where possible to improve its bottom line, while also pushing out new products to boost VR adoption, and start generating real money from that element of the business.

Which is happening. Quest 2 sales are steadily rising, while Meta says that people have already spent more than a billion dollars on Quest store content.

The opportunity here is clearly evolving, and Meta’s now keen to push that momentum, with the launch of its first retail store, focused on VR unit sales, and this new effort to launch new VR headset types to appeal to different use cases.

Combine that with its growing list of VR titles and you can imagine that Meta’s headsets will be in big demand once again this coming holiday season, ahead of the next big push into the metaverse environment.

Which is where these new devices will come in, with its AR glasses also feeding into the broader metaverse push, and potentially becoming a key connective device for consumers looking to tap into the rising activity in the space.

Which is what Meta really needs. It’s one thing to be touting the next-level of engagement, but if there’s nothing overly engaging there, in the VR space, no one will care how about technologically advanced these new headsets might be.

That feels like the situation at present. VR worlds exist, and there’s a steadily growing range of options available in Meta’s digital environment, but really, it’s not a hugely compelling option, while motion sickness and itchiness from the headset are also factors that can limit the time that people will spend in VR in any one session.

Really, Meta needs some more compelling apps and tools in there, and maybe Horizon Worlds, its VR creation platform will become that, while VR versions of popular games like Grand Theft Auto and Resident Evil could also help boost word of mouth, and see even more take-up.

There are also mental health considerations within that, and hopefully Meta is also factoring this in as it ramps up its push, with the more enclosed VR environment set to be even more damaging than current social media platforms.

Meta’s also launched a creator funding program for VR to help fuel more innovative, next level experiences, but all of this will take time, and it’s hard to see VR becoming a ‘must-have’ option till there’s a really strong, critical mass-type reason to log in every day.

I suspect that it’s coming, but we haven’t seen it yet. But when it does come, you can expect VR adoption to rise very fast – and for Meta’s share price to rise with it.

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Twitter’s Rules Around Speech are Focused on Avoiding Harm, Not Maintaining Control



Musk Will Seek Evidence from Twitter’s Former Product Chief as He Looks to Exit His Takeover Deal

An inevitable element of the Elon Musk takeover at Twitter is political division, with Elon essentially using left and right-wing antagonism to stoke debate, and boost engagement in the app.

Musk is a vocal proponent of free speech, and of social platforms in particular allowing users to say whatever they want, within the bounds of local laws. Which makes sense, but at the same time, social platforms, which can effectively provide reach to billions of people, also have some responsibility to manage that capacity, and ensure that it’s not misused to amplify messages that could potentially cause real world harm.

Like, for example, when the President tweets this:

Free speech proponents will say that he’s the President, and he should be allowed to say what he wants as the nation’s democratically elected leader. But at the same time, there’s a very real possibility that the President effectively saying that people are allowed to shoot looters, or that protesters will be shot, could lead to direct, real world harm.

“No it won’t, only snowflakes think that, real people don’t take these things literally.”

But the thing is, some people do, and it’s generally only in retrospect that we assess such and determine the causes of angst, confusion, and indeed harm that can be caused by such messaging.

Social platforms know this. For years, in various nations, social media apps have been used to spread messaging that’s lead to violence, civil unrest, and even revolts and riots. In many instances, this has been because social apps have allowed messaging to be spread which is not technically illegal, but is potentially harmful.

There have been ethnic tensions in Myanmar, fueled by Facebook posts, the mobilization of violent groups in Zimbabwe, the targeting of Sikhs in India, Zika chaos in South Africa. All of these have been traced back to social media posts as early, incendiary elements.

And then there was this:

Tweet from Donald Trump

The final series of tweets that finally saw Trump banned from Twitter effectively called on his millions of supporters to storm the Capitol building, in a misguided effort to overturn the result of the 2020 election.

Politicians were cornered in their offices, fearing for their lives (especially those that Trump had called out by name, including former VP Mike Pence), while several people were killed in the ensuing confusion, as Trump supporters entered the Capitol building and looted, vandalized and terrorized all in their path.

That action had essentially been endorsed, even goaded, by Trump, with Twitter providing the means to amplify his messaging. Twitter recognized this, and decided that it did not want to play a part in a political coup, so it banned Trump for this and his repeated violations of its rules.

Many disagreed with Twitter’s decision (note: Facebook also banned Trump). but again, this wasn’t the first time that Twitter had seen its platform used to fuel political unrest. It’s just that now, it was in the US, on the biggest stage possible, and in the midst of what many still view as a ‘culture war’ between the woke left, who want to restrict speech in line with their own agenda, and the freedom-loving right, who want to be able to say whatever they like, without fear of consequence.

Musk himself was opposed to Twitter’s decision.

Elon, of course, has his own history of issues based on his tweets, including his infamous ‘taking Tesla private at $420’ comment, which resulted in the FCC effectively forcing him to step down as chairman of Tesla, and his 2018 tweet which accused a cave diver of being a pedophile, despite having no basis at all to make such a claim. Musk saw no problem with either, even in retrospect – and he even went as far as hiring a private investigator to dig up dirt on the cave diver to dilute the man’s defamation suit.   

Free speech, as Musk sees it, should enable him to say such, and people should be able to judge for themselves what that means. Even if it impacts investors or harms an innocent person’s reputation, Musk sees no harm in making such statements. 

As such, it’s unsurprising that Musk has now overseen Trump’s account being reinstated, as part of his broader push to overturn Twitter’s years of perceived suppression of free speech.

And as noted, Elon is using this ‘culture war’ as a pretense to maximize his following, and ideally monetize such through his soon to be re-released $8 subscription scheme.

If enough people sign up, he can reduce the platform’s reliance on ads, and make the rules around speech in the app whatever he wants, and get a win for his army of dedicated supporters – but the thing is, the ‘war’ that Elon’s pushing here doesn’t actually exist.

The majority of Twitter users don’t see there being a divide between the ‘elite’ blue checkmark accounts and the ‘regular’ users. The majority don’t have some fundamental opposition to people posting whatever they like, and there’s no broader push from on-high to control what can and cannot be shared, and who or what you can talk about. The only significant action that Twitter’s taken in the past on this front has been specifically to avoid harm, and to limit the potential for dangerous actions that might be inspired by tweets.

Which, in amongst all the ‘free speech’, ‘culture war’ propaganda, is what could eventually end up being overlooked.

Again, it’s only in retrospect that we can clearly see the connections between what’s shared online and real world harm, it’s only after years of seeing the anger bubbles swell on Facebook and Twitter that things truly started to boil over. The risk now is that we’re about to see these bubbles get bigger once again, and despite the lessons of past, despite seeing what can happen when we allow dangerous movements to grow via every borderline tweet and comment, Musk is leading a new charge to fan the flames of division once again.

Which is really the only thing that journalists and commentators are warning against. It’s not driven by corporate leanings or government control, it’s not some ‘woke agenda’ that’s being infused throughout the mainstream media, in order to stop people from learning ‘the truth’. It’s because we’ve seen what happens when regulations are loosened, and when social platforms with huge reach potential allow the worst elements to propagate. We know what happens when speech that may not be illegal, but can cause harm, is amplified to many, many more people.

The ideal of true free speech is that it allows us to address even the most sensitive of topics, and make progress on the key issues of the day, by hearing all sides, no matter how disagreeable we personally may find them. But we know, from very recent history, that this is not the most likely outcome of loosening the safeguards online.

Which is the misnomer of Musk’s ‘culture wars’ push. On the face of it, there’s a battle to be won, there’s a side to choose, there an ‘us’ and a ‘them’ – but in reality, there’s not.

In reality, there’s risk and there’s harm. And while there are extremes of cultural sensitivity, on either side of the debate, the risk is that by getting caught up in a fictional conflict, we end up overlooking, or worse, ignoring the markers of the next violent surge.

That could lead to even more significant harm than we’ve seen this far, and the only beneficiaries will be those stoking the flames.

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