Soon you’ll be able to have even more immersive experiences at work and while you play in Meta’s metaverse — and you’ll be able to do it with your virtual legs.
At Connect 2022, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out major updates for the metaverse at the annual event. Among the numerous announcements, the company unveiled the highly-anticipated Meta Quest Pro. The next generation VR headset, which is built for the cutting-edge metaverse connoisseur, will retail at $1499 and ship starting on October 22.
Meta Quest Pros come with an open design element that allows you to blend in the real world around you while in a virtual one — a perfect feature if you want to pop out to take notes or make sure you’re not running into a wall. It also will have 75 percent more contrast than Meta Quest 2 to make tasks like reading easier and full-color mixed reality, meaning you can see the world around you integrated into your metaverse experience. For example, you can have three virtual monitors above your real-life monitors and see everything without having to remove your headset. Inward-facing cameras can track your facial features better. When combined with hand tracking, it can help you emote better virtually.
All these features may not seem worth it for the price hike, considering the Quest 2 only costs about $399. However, a new partnership with Microsoft may show that Meta is aiming for the business customer that wants to work in the virtual world. Microsoft is adapting its Microsoft Teams into an immersive Horizon Worlds experience, as well as bringing Windows 365 and other Microsoft 365 applications to the Meta Quest. In addition, Meta avatars can be ported over to Microsoft Teams.
Meta also announced new features for Horizon Workrooms: its virtual space for employees to work together. Options include new avatars, the ability to make breakout groups, and a way to create whiteboards when there is open space in your virtual environment. Zoom integration, mixed virtual and real world meetings, and ways to view 3-D models will also be added.
Businesses like Accenture have already bought into Meta’s vision. The company said during the keynote presentation it used 60,000 Meta Quest 2 headsets in its onboarding process last year. It trained 150,000 people on its Nth Floor virtual campus, which was co-created with Microsoft.
But it’s not all work in Meta’s Metaverse. Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming will also have a home in Meta Quest headsets, which will let Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers stream games to the devices. However, instead of being a full immersive VR world, it will look like an extremely large screen being displayed on the inside of the goggles.
Microsoft’s partnership with Meta has now cast doubt on its own metaverse plans. The company had been developing the next generation of its VR headset, the Hololens 3, which was aimed at enterprise customers. However, reports from Business Insider earlier this year suggested the company was moving away from the devices. Today’s announcement further indicates the company might want to power experiences in the metaverse rather than create the hardware for it.
And, one of the metaverse’s most requested features will also make it to Meta’s virtual stage. Avatars, which have mostly consisted of floating torsos, will soon get legs. Zuckerberg explained legs were problematic to render because headsets make it difficult to estimate where your knees or elbows are. If you are sitting, older models can’t tell if you’re short or tucking your legs under a desk. But thanks to modern advancements, we’ll soon be able to stroll through Meta’s metaverse platform Horizon Worlds without breaking a sweat.