Meta: Mark Zuckerberg shows off new VR headset prototypes
Meta wants to continue to be strongly involved in the VR market and has now presented some of its prototypes.
Meta: Mark Zuckerberg shows VR headset prototypes.
© Meta / Reality Labs
Reality Labs from the Meta subsidiary Facebook has presented new prototypes on the way to lightweight, hyper-realistic virtual reality headsets. The VR headsets codenamed “Butterscotch”, “Starburst”, “Holocake 2” and “Mirror Lake” are still a long way from market maturity, but could result in a slim, brightly lit headset that supports finer details than that current Quest 2 display, as reported by The Verge.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Reality Labs Chief Scientist Michael Abrash, along with other Reality Labs members, presented their work at a virtual roundtable last week.
“I think we’re in the middle of a big step towards realism right now,”
“I don’t think it will be that long before we can create scenes with perfect realism.”
“Project Cambria” planned for 2022
Zuckerberg also reaffirmed his plans to launch a high-end headset codenamed “Project Cambria” in 2022. Cambria supports both VR and mixed reality thanks to high-resolution cameras that can transmit a video to an internal screen. It will also feature eye tracking, an important feature for future meta headsets. In addition, they want to launch two lines of VR headsets: budget VR headsets aimed at consumers and more expensive ones for the prosumer/professional market.
But the competition doesn’t sleep either. Rumor has it that Apple will also be launching its own VR headset. Meta doesn’t want to be pushed out of the market so easily and had scaled back its AR development in order to throw everything back into the VR scale.
“Butterscotch” is an attempt to develop a headset display that is close to retina quality. The bulky “Starburst” uses a powerful lamp – the weight of which requires handles – and produces HDR (high dynamic range) lighting with 20,000 nits of brightness. “Holocake 2” is Meta’s VR headset that aims to be as thin and light as possible.
The designs above exist as actual hardware that Zuckerberg briefly showcased during the event. However, Meta also revealed a prototype called Mirror Lake, which is basically just a dream model and was never built. The design looks more like ski goggles than Meta’s chunky Quest hardware, and it would combine Holocake 2’s thin optics, Starburst’s HDR capabilities, and Butterscotch’s resolution.
“It shows what a complete next-generation display system could look like.”
In addition to these features, Mirror Lake would include an outward-facing display that projects an image of the user’s eyes, reducing the sense of physical separation for those outside the headset. Meta showed off this somewhat sinister feature in a prototype last year, and it might not be the only company interested in the concept: Apple was reportedly considering a similar feature for its rumored headset.