Meta postpones the AR future – report
Update from June 10:
Meta’s CTO Andrew Bosworth speaks out on Twitter. He doesn’t comment directly on the rumors about the halted smartwatch and the changed plans for Nazare, but seems to be referring to them.
“We’re going to ship wrist wearables and AR glasses that bring completely new tech — like EMG — to market,” Bosworth writes.
The path to fundamentally new products is “not a straight line,” and as is common in the industry, Meta is experimenting with multiple prototypes in parallel and shifting resources to accommodate new insights, Bosworth says.
Meta’s Nazare AR glasses, planned for 2024, will only be launched as a demo device. The company’s plans for a sleek commercial AR headset now goes even further into the future.
The major restructuring at Meta continues: first Zuckerberg announced cost-cutting measures, then COO and Zuckerberg confidant Sheryl Sandberg left, as did head of AI Jerome Pesenti. Meta’s AI teams are redistributing across the company to be more operational. The AI research division is joining Reality Labs.
Meta changes plan for AR headset Nazare
Restructuring continues: projects are cancelled at Reality Labs. As Bloomberg reports, a smartwatch project has been stopped. According to The Information, plans have now been changed for the prestige headset codenamed Nazare, which Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is said to have described internally as a “holy grail”.
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Nazare was supposed to be Meta’s first slim (!) commercial AR headset that still offers a full AR experience with a wide 70-degree field of view. To date, no company has been able to demonstrate technologies that meet these requirements. Nazare would be – as of today – a technological revolution. Meta officially unveiled plans for Nazare in October 2021, but did not show any hardware.
Although Nazare has not been cancelled, it is only planned as a demonstration device, according to The Information. Originally, Nazare was to be launched on the market in 2024.
The holy grail is now supposed to be the Nazare successor headset Artemis, which is planned for 2026 and is supposed to be even slimmer and more advanced than Nazare.
Is physics catching up with meta?
The changes to the Nazare project will likely mean that Meta won’t launch a slim AR headset for several years. Many in the industry, and probably Zuckerberg himself, assume that slim, augmented reality-focused tech glasses will be more mainstream-compatible than the comparatively clunky VR headset (with AR mode).
However, these VR-AR headsets can get even better, as Meta’s Cambria this year and possibly Apple’s headset next year could prove. On the one hand, Meta’s re-planning with Nazare shows how challenging the physics of developing slim tech headsets is and remains. On the other hand, the postponement could also be a sign that Meta has confidence in bridging technology like Cambria and therefore doesn’t want to rush into anything.