Meta's new VR prototypes won Siggraph awards, but what do testers say?

Meta's new VR prototypes won Siggraph awards, but what do testers say?

Meta's futuristic research prototypes Butterscotch Varifocal and Flamera made a splash at Siggraph.

The North American Siggraph conference is held once a year and focuses on innovations in computer graphics.

This year, Meta presented two headsets that the public could try at the show: Butterscotch Varifocal, which combines near-retinal resolution with varifocal optics, and Flamera, which demonstrates a new approach to distortion-free pass-through. The prototypes are for demo and research purposes only and are not intended to be productized in this form.

Nevertheless, they impressed the audience and won three awards in the Emerging Technologies category: Flamera won Best in Show and Audience Choice, while Butterscotch Varifocal got into the Official Selection for the Digital Content Association of Japan.

First impressions from Siggraph

A number of show attendees took to Twitter to share their impressions of the prototypes.

XR analyst Anshel Sag wrote about the Butterscotch Varifocal that it "looked great and focused well", but did not seem to work well for people with glasses.

VR studio UWU was pleasantly surprised. "...If it wasn't for the FOV and a very small latency as the panels shift focus we would have a hard time knowing if we were wearing a headset at all. It's that clear..."


VR developer and photogrammetry pro Azad Balabian was less impressed, finding neither demo spectacular. With Flamera, the field of view was "super narrow" (30 degrees) and therefore, a perspective-correct passthrough "not really perceivable".

Butterscotch Varifocal was more interesting to him, as it allowed him to experience the varifocal focus-shifting in VR for the first time, albeit in the form of an old and mechanical design. In addition, the resolution was impressive, but he has seen this before with other headsets.

The only detailed hands-on report I could find on the web was provided by David Heaney for UploadVR. His impressions of Butterscotch Varifocal make for an interesting reading. In his final thoughts, Heaney writes that the sharpness and detail were "stunning to behold".

Update from September 6: A few weeks later, David Heaney also published a detailed hands-on with Flamera.