3 reasons to be excited about Mixed Reality (part 3)
Meta Quest 3 will bring mixed reality to the masses and open up new ways to share experiences with others.
I defined mixed reality as the ability to bring digital elements into the physical environment, or to blend the real and the virtual, whereas virtual reality's goal is to immerse you completely.
First, it fits more easily into everyday life, making the technology easier, safer, and faster to use, which will help it reach a new class of (casual) users. Second, it enables new types of experiences that incorporate the physical environment, which in some cases could be even more immersive than virtual reality.
Here's the third and final reason I'm excited about mixed reality - and maybe you should be, too.
Almost five years ago, Meta demonstrated an exciting new way to play VR games at its own conference.
Oculus Connect 5 attendees were able to join others in a 4,000-square-foot arena and battle it out in a Western scenario using Oculus Quests. The technology shown supported the co-location of headsets and mapping of the virtual to the physical world.
Although this concept was considered extremely promising, it remained a one-time demonstration. An API for local multiplayer with multiple Quest devices did not launch for Meta Quest 2 until early 2023.
Why Meta waited so many years is unknown. The most obvious reason is safety. When multiple people play virtual reality together in the same room, accidents and injuries can happen more quickly because people see each other only as avatars and are blind to the physical environment.
With mixed reality, this changes because you can always see the environment and the other person. With the gradual introduction of mixed reality APIs for Meta Quest 2, it made sense for Meta to finally introduce local multiplayer.
However, this type of gaming is largely unexplored. There are only a handful of demos that explore these possibilities.
With the affordable mixed reality of Meta Quest 3, this will change and headset technology might finally get a counterpart to social couch gaming. Spatial content will be effortlessly shared and experienced together in the same space. And as the space available for play expands, new game concepts could emerge on playgrounds, sports fields and in arcades.
This will take time because not every household has two or more Quest devices. But the hope is that this type of mixed reality experience will evolve over the next few years, redefining social gaming and collaboration.
It can't be emphasized enough: With Meta Quest 3 and other mixed reality headsets to follow, a new era is dawning for the technology. AR headsets like Hololens and Magic Leap are currently too expensive and too technically limited to even touch the mainstream. As a result, the software available has only scratched the surface of what's possible.
With mixed reality headsets, the technical boundaries are shifting and the potential of AR technology could finally be unleashed and thoroughly explored.