Quest Pro, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Zuck Avatar: everything is announced on Meta Connect

One year after Facebook’s name change Metathe social media giant is still betting big on the metaverse. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a lot to talk about what he thinks will be the future of how we’ll all connect.

“We believe the next computing platform has the potential to be more social, more human than anything that has come before,” Zuckerberg said during a keynote presentation at the company’s Meta Connect conference on Tuesday.

The metaverse includes virtual spaces where people can work, play, and socialize, but Zuckerberg also clarified that there’s still a long way to go before this futuristic idea becomes a reality.

Meta faces an uphill battle as it attempts to pave the way for a more immersive internet. The social media giant has faced several privacy scandals and scrutiny from lawmakers as it pursues its metaverse ambitions. United States Federal Trade Commission accused Meta of illegally trying to expand its “virtual reality empire” and is trying to block the company’s acquisition of Within Unlimited and its VR fitness app Supernatural. Meta pushed back against claims that it harms competition.


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However, not everyone buys into the metaverse. According to market research firm Forrester, approximately 57% of American adults online say they are unaware of the term.

Julie Ask, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, said Zuckerberg was overselling the idea that VR headsets could eventually replace the smartphone. Some of the main challenges, she said, are the price of VR headsets and the limited ways people can use them.

“I don’t see it as a wholesale replacement,” Ask said. “I see it as something where we will spend some of our time.”

Meta tries to convince people that it is worth buying a VR headset. From social media to work, the company has tried to sell the public on the idea that virtual reality can be used for more than just playing games. Meta also said he was working with eyewear company Essilorluxottica on a new pair of glasses that will be “a portal to the metaverse.”

Here’s everything Meta announced on Tuesday:

Meta Quest Pro

Meta Quest Pro Virtual Reality Headset

The Meta Quest Pro virtual reality headset.

Scott Stein/CNET

Meta teased the release of a high-end VR headset ahead of the conference, and he finally revealed more details about the product.

The company said the device, called the Meta Quest Profeatures “high-resolution sensors for robust mixed reality experiences, crisp LCD displays for crisp visuals, an entirely new and sleeker design, plus eye tracking and natural facial expressions to help your avatar reflect you more naturally in VR”.

The premium headset is also more expensive than the Quest 2, which starts at $399. The Quest Pro will retail for $1,500 and is slated for release on October 25. The cost includes the headset, controllers, pen tips, partial light blockers, and a charging station.

Meta is taking pre-orders for the Meta Quest Pro today in select countries. It will also be available for pre-order at select retailers, such as Best Buy, and platforms, such as Amazon in the US, UK, Canada, and France.


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VR for work

Avatars in Horizon Workrooms

Horizon Workrooms includes VR meeting spaces that allow people to collaborate as avatars.

Meta

Meta wants people to use VR for more than just playing games.

The company said it’s adding more functionality to Horizon Workrooms, where people can get together with colleagues in a virtual meeting room. In 2023, for example, Meta says you’ll be able to join Horizon Workrooms through the Zoom video conferencing service.

Meta is also partnering with Microsoft to inspire more people to use virtual reality for work. Microsoft products such as the Microsoft Teams video conferencing tool are coming to Quest 2, along with the suite of tools available in Microsoft Windows 365.

Meta is also partnering with Adobe and said Adobe’s Substance 3D apps will be available on Meta Quest Pro and Meta Quest 2, allowing artists and designers to model 3D objects and collaborate in virtual reality.

Xbox, New Games

Imposter in Among Us video game holding a finger to his face

Set on a virtual spaceship, Among Us is a social deduction game where players must identify imposters before the impostors kill their teammates.

Meta

Gaming is still a big reason people buy VR headsets. Meta has revealed when new VR games will be released on the Quest 2.

Among the USA VR, described as a “party game of teamwork and betrayal,” is set to release November 10 for $10 at Meta Quest and Rift stores. Marvel’s Iron Man VR is coming to Quest 2 on November 3.

Population One, a VR battle royale game launched in 2020, offers players a way to create and share new games in their virtual world. Population: One Sandbox is set to release in December.

The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners — Chapter 2 Retribution will debut on Quest 2 on December 1. Skydance Interactive, the team that helped design this game, is also working on a new VR survival game called Behemoth. Behemoth’s release date has yet to be announced.

Meta continues to expand its VR partnerships. The company said game developers Camouflaj, Twisted Pixel and Armature Studio are joining Meta-owned Oculus Studios.

Meta also unveiled a partnership with Microsoft to bring Xbox Cloud Gaming to virtual reality via the Quest, although neither company has indicated when it will be available.

Social VR

Promotional art for Meta's Horizon Worlds VR app.

Horizon Worlds is a social virtual reality platform where people can create and explore virtual spaces.

Meta

Meta tries to improve its social virtual reality platform Horizon Worlds, where users can explore virtual spaces such as a comedy club or a concert hall as avatars. Users can also create their own virtual worlds.

The company launched Horizon Worlds in 2021, but the social VR experience hasn’t picked up much steam.

Apart from security issues such as harassment, Horizon Worlds has also dealt with other issues. Meta’s Vice President of Metaverse, Vishal Shah, reportedly told Meta employees that Horizon users have complained that the experience is buggy and that even the company’s own employees aren’t using it much.

Shah told the conference that Meta was working on a web version of Horizon Worlds, but didn’t say when that version would be released. Meta is also testing a way for people to take a video in Horizon Worlds and easily share it on Instagram as a shortened clip.

When Zuckerberg posted an image of his avatar to announce the release of Horizon Worlds in France and Spain, users laughed at the poor quality graphics. Zuckerberg then shared a new image with a more detailed render of his avatar and noted that he would be sharing “major Horizon updates and avatar graphics.”

At Connect, Zuckerberg revealed what his the new avatar looks like and said the company also plans to add a much-requested feature: legs. The current avatars of society only appear as floating torsos with heads, arms, and hands.

VR fitness

A woman hits a virtual object while training in virtual reality.

Supernatural is a VR fitness app that lets users take boxing classes and meditate.

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Meta expects people to sweat when training in VR, which is why the company is releasing an “active pack” on October 25 that includes an erasable face interface as well as wrist and neck straps. joint.

The company said VR fitness app Supernatural is launching “knee kicks” so people can help build muscle and work out their lower body.

A new VR fitness app called Gym Class will debut in the fall on the Quest store.

Entertainment

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Studios such as Blumhouse and Dreamworks are part of the deal to bring NBCUniversal content to the Metaverse in 2023.

Meta

Virtual reality users also watch movies and TV on streaming platforms such as Netflix in virtual spaces. Now they will have more options to choose from.

Meta announced a partnership with NBCUniversal this will involve creating new experiences around television series such as The Office.

The Peacock the video streaming application will also arrive on Quest helmets.

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