The company formerly known as Facebook began teasing a new high-end Virtual Reality (VR) headset at the end of 2021. It’s dubbed Project Cambria and it’s been touted as a quasi “Quest Pro” type of device. So far details on the headset have been restricted to vague teaser shots and generalities about its capabilities. More info has now come to light though, courtesy of Mr. Zuckerberg himself. In a video posted to Facebook (where else?), he is shown using the headset for the first time. The video provides a brief glimpse into Cambria’s potential, but unfortunately the headset itself is blurred out.
The video (Facebook link) is less than a minute long and shows Zuckerberg using the headset for mixed reality activities. This is notably different from augmented reality (AR), as AR typically doesn’t allow interaction with digital assets. Mixed reality is made possible by Cambria’s full-color video passthrough, allowing it to display the environment you’re in with digital overlays. This is what really separates Cambria from the Quest 2, which only offers black-and-white passthrough. Previously Zuckerberg said Cambria will be more focused on work activities versus goofing off, but the video shows a mix of both.
Once Zuckerberg dons the blurry headset, he begins interacting with a gremlin on the floor. The video jumps around a lot so it’s not totally clear what he’s doing. However, it appears he’s throwing a ball around the room and his fuzzy sidekick is chasing it. Zuckerberg also reaches down to pet the gremlin, but it doesn’t seem to react to his attempt at affection (the jokes really write themselves sometimes). He can also be seen changing the color of the walls in the room too. He says this mixed reality demo is an experience called The World Beyond. It uses a Meta’s Presence Platform for mixed reality, which it announced last year. The full-color passthrough version will only be available on Cambria, but Meta will release a version for Quest 2 soon as well.
The video also highlights some real world scenarios that seem more oriented towards Meta’s future plans. For example, it shows him interacting with digital versions of Facebook Messenger that is floating above his real world desk. It also includes footage of a virtual yoga instructor guiding him through a workout. We’re not sure we’d want to do yoga with a headset on, but there’s clearly potential there. He concludes the video by saying the tools to create these experiences will be released to developers soon.
This teaser video comes at an uncertain time for Meta. The company has recently confirmed impending cutbacks to Reuters for its Reality Labs division, which has become a money pit. In its Q4 2021 earnings report, Meta stated Reality Labs had burned through $10 billion in 2021. In its Q1 2021 earnings report from just a few weeks ago it also reported a hiring freeze amidst a “mass exodus.” Zuckerberg says Project Cambria will be launching this year, but we still don’t know its specs or pricing.
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