Mark Zuckerberg's plans for the metaverse

Mark ZuckerbergMeta has invested over $10 billion in metaverse research just this year. What does it spend on and what does it hope to achieve in building virtual worlds?

Last week he offered some clues The Joe Rogan Experiencewhich is from some indicators the most listened to podcast in the world. The episode, which lasted nearly three hours, made headlines for Zuckerberg’s comments about his infernals morning routine and Hunter Biden’s laptop. But the interview also offered insight into his approach to his lean, often ridiculed building an empire in the metaverse.

Here are some of the main takeaways.

A new VR headset will arrive in October.

Meta’s latest virtual reality headset, the successor to Meta Quest 2, will arrive in October, Zuckerberg announced. This will be the company’s first major VR release since name change from Facebook to Meta last fall.

Zuckerberg says one of his main priorities for the headset was to make the user “feel like you’re there with another person.” The company has added enhanced face tracking so your avatar can smile or frown when you do.

“There’s more non-verbal communication when people are with each other than there is verbal communication,” Zuckerberg told Rogan. “When you’re on a video call, you don’t really feel like you’re there with the person. To me, what virtual reality unlocks is that it really convinces your brain that you’re there.”

Read more: TIME’s first interview in the metaverse: How a filmmaker made a movie and fell in love with VR

After all, Zuckerberg wants the metaverse to be all around us.

Zuckerberg says Meta’s new VR headset is just one stop on a “long road map” to a future dominated not by isolated headsets but by augmented reality (AR) glasses. The goal, Zuckerberg says, is to shrink the headset down to the size of normal glasses and let people interact with the world through augmented reality or digital overlays. Instead of looking at your phone screen for map directions, for example, your smart glasses will simply draw a line to the route you need to take.

“The physical world is important to our being, essence and soul,” Zuckerberg said.

However, actual AR consumer products are still a long way off. Zuckerberg predicts that the first products will arrive in three to five years and will “start out pretty expensive. It will take some time to get to hundreds of dollars,” he said.

Holograms, everywhere.

When AR technology comes out, Zuckerberg says this star Warsholograms in style will be the norm. He predicted that many people, instead of moving to the big cities, would “I teleport morning at the office and appeared as a hologram. That future, Zuckerberg says, will be “pretty sweet” and “unlock a lot of economic opportunity for a lot of people.”

Zuckerberg also dreamed up Rogan’s virtual poker nights, in which some friends physically sit around the table, while others are lit up and each plays with hologram cards.

Privacy issues loom.

If an AR-dominated world comes to fruition, then Meta will have access to a staggering amount of real-time footage and data. Every step you take in public will potentially be under surveillance. When Rogan asked if AR glasses would allow “creeps” to record people without their consent, Zuckerberg admitted that it would be possible “in theory.” (He defended the product by saying that every time a user pressed “record,” a bright red light came on.)

Zuckerberg knows you hate avatars.

In mid-August, Zuckerberg post a selfie of his digital avatar in Facebook’s Horizon Worlds metauniverse platform. It was widely derided as being of low quality or even “soulless.”

Zuckerberg admitted to Rogan that Meta’s avatars “obviously aren’t super realistic yet.” He said that while they will improve in quality over time, his goal is not to build a metaverse that looks exactly like the real world. “I’m actually not convinced that when we have photorealistic avatars, people will prefer that over expressive ones,” he said.

His goal in the near future is for VR to “eat TV.”

If Zuckerberg gets his way, then the growth of the metaverse will come directly at the expense of the television industry. He said people will eventually be able to watch their favorite shows and movies in their smart glasses instead of on a screen.

Zuckerberg also criticized the cultural dominance of the television industry and said he hoped people would spend their time communicating in virtual worlds instead of watching television.

“I want to make the experiences that we have not just be these passive things,” he said, arguing that people will build more relationships while interacting in VR rather than watching TV. “It may actually be a net improvement in people’s overall well-being.” And there’s plenty of time to eat on TV.

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