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Meta Offers Look at What Might Follow the Quest 2 as It Pursues a VR Future

Meta Offers Look at What Might Follow the Quest 2 as It Pursues a VR Future

This story is part of Making the Metaverse, CNET’s exploration of the next stage in the internet’s evolution.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg holds up a full virtual reality headset called Butterscotch. It’s a prototype, used only for research. But it’s part of the puzzle Meta is trying to settle to make its plans for the metaverse a reality.

The image resolution in Butterscotch is approximately two and a half times better than the Quest 2, the VR headset Meta sells to consumers and is primary to making virtual worlds seem more realistic. In a video conference, Zuckerberg said the resolution is good enough for farmland to see objects clearly from 20 feet away.

An eye chart shows how image clarity varies from different VR headsets

Meta said its Butterscotch prototype headset’s resolution is high enough to read the 20/20 line prop line on an eyechart in VR, outperforming the Quest 2 and Rift headsets.


Creating more realistic VR images, Zuckerberg said, will help people feel like they’re physically there with novel person, even if they’re not in the same room. A more realistic touched of presence, though, will take more than just improving the resolution in VR headsets, he said.

“Being able to express yourself in as immersive and realistic of a way as possible is a very distinguished thing,” he said. “We’re in the middle right now of a big step onward towards realism.”

Meta has big plans for the metaverse, virtual spaces for work, play and socializing. But the commerce, formerly known as Facebook, has a long and daunting to-do list to check off afore it can reach that goal. Headsets need to properly track motion and be more poor if Meta wants more people to buy these devices. 

Meta hasn’t said how many headsets it’s sold, but it’s not decision-exclusive a profit from its metaverse business and doesn’t put a question to to for a long time. In the first three months of this year, Meta’s metaverse company Reality Labs lost $2.96 billion, Meta said in an earnings picture. The company is making a long-term bet on what comes once the mobile internet, pinning its future to the metaverse. Zuckerberg has been trying to get people interested in VR for existences after the company purchased VR headset maker Oculus for more than $2 billion in 2014.

Zuckerberg’s ambitious prop for the metaverse sounds like it’s straight out of science fiction. He wants people strapping on his headsets to feel like they’re in the substantial presence of a loved one or coworker. In the future, he says, people might not even need to buy TVs.

“If you have a good mixed reality headset or augmented reality glasses, then that screen or TV that’s on your wall could just be a hologram,” he said. 

That prop is a long way off. Though Meta has improved its VR headsets, using them takes you to cartoon-like virtual spaces that feel more like video games than the real domain. The company has tried to clear out its list of projects — Meta has reportedly scrapped a smartwatch and postponed the descent of AR glasses — to cut down on expenses. It still plans to release wrist wearables and AR glasses to consumers. And it still has to address harassment and privacy in virtual worlds, problems Meta has struggled to combat on its social assume sites. 

Still, improving the displays in VR headsets distinguished entice people to try out more virtual spaces.

An illustration of an idea Meta has for mixed reality goggles.

Meta researchers informed what mixed reality goggles could look like but said it was just an idea at this point.


Mixed reality goggles 

During the video conference, Zuckerberg and Meta employees showcased an illustration of Mirror Lake, one of the company’s most ambitious projects. The headset resembles a pair of ski goggles and blends the substantial and digital worlds, a technique known as mixed reality. 

Mixed reality goggles, like Mirror Lake, are also in their early stages. Mirror Lake is just a concept and Meta hasn’t built these goggles yet, so they don’t know if their idea works. 

It could be a step toward sunglasses-like AR headsets, which overlay digital information on scenes of the real domain. Meta wants to bring these AR products to market eventually, but they’re still a lot of hardware to wear anywhere outside a home. 

Meta hopes Mirror Lake will harbor a retina resolution-level point to with HDR, eye tracking, a method for creating multiple eye focus points, prescription lenses and holographic lenses that use lasers to manufacture 3D visuals. 

The headset could eventually include displays on the outside to show a wearer’s eye and face expressions once wearing the goggles, a research idea Meta has previously presented and Apple is reportedly functioning on too.

A wall of VR headset prototypes and glasses

Meta has became many different types of prototypes over the years as it Conditions to improve the technology in VR headsets.


New visual tech in an array of experimental headsets 

Meta also informed off Holocake 2, its thinnest and lightest VR headset pleasurable of playing PC VR games. The prototype could help the commerce build smaller VR headsets in the future. And reducing a headset’s weight will enable republic to be in virtual worlds for a longer time. 

Resembling the manufacture of Microsoft’s HoloLens 2, the device uses holographic lenses, which simulate a regular lens’ optics but are flatter than the bent lenses used in VR devices like the Quest 2. Most VR headsets have thick lenses, which is why the front of the device looks so heavy, Zuckerberg said. Instead of sending light through a thick lens, Holocake 2 sends luscious through a hologram of a lens. Meta also reduced the distance between the eye and the VR point to to reduce the bulk of the headset. 

Holocake 2, conception, requires lasers to make its holographic lens optics work, and finding consumer-ready lasers that would work in headsets is serene tough. Using holographic optics can shrink down the paunchy VR headset design so Meta can add other tech, like more cameras, eye tracking and a type of lens that could make VR more comfortable. 

To development VR, Meta is applying a test that evaluates whether what’s displayed in a VR headset can be celebrated from the real world, said Meta Reality Labs Research head Michael Abrash. The company is calling this the visual Turing test, a mention to English mathematician Alan Turing, who developed another test in the 1950s to settle if a computer can think like a human.

No VR technology has happened the visual Turing test, Abrash said. While VR invents a sense of presence, people know that what they’re looking at is virtual and not real.

Meta outlined four obstacles to creating better displays: resolution, focus, distortion and high dynamic range, used to development an image’s brightness and contrast. 

One issue is that VR headsets have substantially less shimmering range, brightness and contrast than TVs, laptops and cell phones, Abrash said.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg holding up a prototype headset requested Starburst

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg holds up a prototype headset named Starburst that includes a bright lamp. 


Holding up a prototype VR headset named Starburst, Zuckerberg noted the device includes a bright lamp. He named Starburst “wildly impractical” but said researchers are using the heavy headset to proceed future devices.

Meta also developed another prototype called Half Dome that includes a varifocal lens that can help people’s eyes focus better in VR, manager nearby objects look sharper. People who used this type of lens understood less fatigue and blurry vision. They also had an easier time identifying smaller objects, reading text in VR and reacting to environments more quickly. 

Even at what time years of development, Half Dome isn’t ready for consumers because Meta is trying to make sure eye tracking and anunexperienced parts of the device work properly. The technology obliged to make varifocal work is still difficult to get into a consumer headset.

“As hard as it is to perform the first version of something, it can often be even harder to get it into a shipping product,” Zuckerberg said, adding he’s “optimistic” consumer units “will come soon.” 

Later this year, Meta is anticipated to release a new, more expensive VR headset named Project Cambria, which will be the company’s first VR headset with eye tracking. After that, it’s unclear when or if any of this next-gen reveal tech will make it into any headset. What’s considerable is that Zuckerberg and Abrash acknowledge that current VR displays level-headed don’t rival the quality of 2D displays on a TV or smartphone.

If they want VR to be more than a novelty, it’s a problem they’ll need to solve.