Meta’s next VR headset could be a replacement for your laptop
Meta’s next VR/AR headset Cambria will one day replace the traditional work environment, CEO Mark Zuckerberg tells investors.
While Meta Quest 2 is celebrating its first successes as a game console, Zuckerberg is already looking to the future. In order for VR and AR to justify the enormous investments, Meta must arrive in people’s everyday lives. In other words, at work.
If VR and AR headsets could one day replace traditional work devices, it would be akin to a technological revolution comparable to the advent of the personal computer or the smartphone. Meta could free itself from the stranglehold of the Google and Apple ecosystems and once again play a leading role. At least, that’s how Zuckerberg is likely to see it.
Working in VR: First software, now hardware
Work as the killer app of virtual and augmented reality? Such a push would be neither new nor surprising. Meta’s visionary and head of research Michael Abrash has been talking about the virtual office as the ultimate goal of VR and AR for years.
The first efforts have already taken shape: Under the codename Infinite Office, features have been developed for Meta Quest 2 for some time that are intended to ease productive work in virtual reality.
The next big step in this direction will probably be hardware: Project Cambria (info). Meta’s upcoming VR/AR headset represents a new lineup of products packed with new technologies aimed at enthusiasts and professionals. Cambria is marketed more as a general-purpose device than Meta Quest 2 and will be more expensive than the VR gaming console.
Cambria: Meta’s working goggles?
Zuckerberg highlighted the capabilities of the new hardware at the recent investor conference, describing Cambria as a device that is more focused on work applications and should eventually replace the laptop or workspace. In this context, he highlighted the improved ergonomics and the new color passthrough mode, which is designed to seamlessly connect the virtual and physical worlds.
Zuckerberg’s remarks are notable because they put Cambria in the context of productivity more than before. The company has said little about the device since its brief announcement six months ago. At the time, it emphasized technical features and put productivity on equal footing with other use cases such as social interaction and fitness.
However, video leaks from last year and rumors of a new interface suggest that Meta is pursuing the project of a VR workstation with Cambria, which will compete with conventional work devices like laptops in the future.
Meta is unlikely to show the new device in a near-term manner. Meta has canceled this year’s F8, and Zuckerberg says that the company will only announce new details about Project Cambria “in the coming months”. So a launch in the fall at Connect 2022 or shortly thereafter is looking increasingly likely.
Unity developer Greg Madison recently showed a cool demo for an XR workstation based on Quest 2 passthrough AR. Check it out if you want to get an idea of what the future of mobile working might look like.