Meta showcased recent advancements in virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and artificial intelligence (AI) in its annual conference, Meta Connect. The company’s announcements demonstrate Meta’s superior ability to remain competitive not only in social media but also in the wider technology realm.
Quest 3 – Mixed reality for everyone
Meta’s vision for mixed reality is to make it more accessible to everyone.
Since its acquisition of Oculus VR, Meta has dominated the VR sphere, with 20 million Quest headsets sold, including 18 million of the acclaimed Meta Quest 2. The new Meta Quest 3, boasts full-colour passthrough and a seamless blend of virtual and augmented reality. Powered by the pioneering Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chip, it promises twice the performance of its predecessor with higher resolution, an extended depth of field and redesigned controllers for a more intuitive tracking experience.
The device is optimised for gamers, offering support for Xbox Cloud Gaming in addition to its native VR games. The Quest 3 extends its productivity use case beyond gaming with an upcoming Microsoft 365 apps integration. Overall, Quest 3 will have a content library of more than 100 experiences.
Starting at $500 the Quest 3 compares favourably to Apple’s upcoming Vision Pro which will retail from $3,499.
Mark Zuckerberg said:
“But to build the future, it’s not just enough to make this possible. We have to make it so that it is affordable and accessible to everyone. That’s why we focus our innovation not only just on groundbreaking innovations but on making sure that these things are accessible to everyone because, to us, that is just as important as advancing the state of the art.”
AI tools and experiences – Generative AI for everyone
Meta’s vision for generative AI is to make it more accessible to everyone.
Meta is introducing new AI experiences across its family of apps and devices, distributing access to innovative technology to billions of users and millions of creators and businesses.
- Generative AI tools such as AI stickers and AI editing tools enable users to generate customised stickers and easily transform and create images.
- Meta AI is the company’s advanced conversational assistant, available on WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, and coming to Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses and Quest 3. Meta AI provides real-time information and generates photorealistic images from text prompts in seconds.
- 28 AI chatbot personalities will be launched with unique interests and personalities. Some are played by sporting and cultural icons and influencers including Snoop Dogg, Tom Brady and Kendall Jenner.
Meta envisions a future where anyone can build AIs.
- It introduced AI studio, a suite of development tools that supports the creation of AIs. Businesses will be able to create AIs that reflect their brand values and improve customer service experiences. Creators will be able to build AIs that extend their virtual presence across apps.
- It is building a sandbox to enable anyone to experiment with creating their own AI. This leans into Meta’s metaverse vision as the company envisions AI avatars coexisting in the metaverse to increase engagement.
Combining MR and AI – Augmented reality for everyone
Besides progressing to the metaverse vision, Meta is well positioned to realise augmented reality by leveraging AI and MR advances in combination as exhibited in the new Ray-Ban smart glasses. The new glasses offer vastly improved specs compared to the previous generation Ray-Ban Stories.
- Improved audio with five microphones to capture spatial audio and provide louder audio that leaks less noise.
- Upgraded camera system with a 12MP wide-angle camera to record 1080p video at 60fps, enabling creators to seamlessly post photos and videos and even livestream to Facebook and Instagram.
- Again, accessibility is a selling point with prices starting from $299.
While tech enthusiasts and creators might be attracted by these new features, the main highlight for everyday users is “these are the first smart glasses built and shipped with Meta AI”. Wearers can engage with the inbuilt AI assistant by saying “Hey Meta” to obtain useful information and control their glasses.
Future software enhancements will add multi-modal AI capabilities to Meta AI, meaning the glasses will be even more useful by providing intelligent services such as translating and providing context to things you see on the go.
As Mark Zuckerberg put it:
“One area that I am especially interested to see is how the advances in AI intersect with advances in building the next computing platform… Before this last year’s AI breakthroughs, I kind of thought that smart glasses were only really going to become ubiquitous once we really dialled in the holograms and the displays, which we are making progress on but is somewhat longer, but now I think that the AI part of this is going to be just as important in smart glasses being widely adopted as any of the augmented reality features.
The Meta Connect conference highlighted Meta’s advancements in both social media and wider tech like VR, AR, MR and AI. The launch of Meta Quest 3 showcases Meta’s aim to make mixed reality affordable, while new generative AI tools and the Meta AI assistant enhance digital engagement across platforms. The introduction of AI Studio and the creative sandbox align with Meta’s metaverse goals, and the upgraded Ray-Ban smart glasses with Meta AI integration signify a step towards accessible augmented reality, embodying Meta’s commitment to intertwining AI with daily experiences.
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