Zuckerberg says Meta's next VR headset will launch in October and focus on 'social presence' - TechCrunch

Meta is launching its next VR headset this October at the company’s Connect conference. CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement late Thursday, fittingly, in an equally surreal setting: the Joe Rogan Experience podcast on Spotify.

He said the new VR headset, a follow-up to the popular Oculus 2, will focus on “social presence” with features such as eye tracking and face tracking. Zuckerberg said the headset is designed to capture users’ facial expressions and reproduce them on their avatars in real time to improve non-verbal communication. He also noted that while Meta’s AR glasses are a few years away, the headset released in October will have some mixed reality features.

At last year’s conference, Connect Meta introduced high-end headphones codenamed “Project Cambria”, and according to Zuckerberg’s description, the headset released in October is its final consumer version. Report from Bloomberg last month noted that code in Meta’s companion iPhone app for VR headsets suggested that the upcoming headset would be named Meta Quest Pro.

Concept photo of Project Cambria Image Credits: Facebook

On Joe Rogan’s podcast, Zuckerberg repeatedly emphasized the fact that VR can “unlock” the sense of another person’s presence.

“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 [in person],” he said.

From Facebook was rebranded to Meta, the company is recasting the entire company as a “metaverse” business rather than a social media one, pitching its strategy as building a universe of multiple virtual worlds for all users. Some may be skeptical of the premise and motivation behind the messaging pivot, but the company is moving forward and making efforts to better unify the different types of experiences it’s developing. Horizon Worlds, for example, is a social platform tailored for VR headsets available in selected countries. It has been criticized for hacker graphicsso claims of the next VR headset capturing facial expressions will be put to the test.

Meta’s announcement comes weeks after the company raised the price of the Oculus 2 from $299 to $399. While there’s no word on the price of the upcoming headset, Zuckerberg described it as “a pretty big step up from the Oculus 2,” so it’ll be significantly more expensive than $400.

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