As they write on their tech blog Meta describe their vision for The Road to the Metaverse, as a primer for their Meta Connect 2022 conference.
This follows on from the 2021 keynote from Mark Zuckerberg introducing their vision for building the Metaverse:
“a set of interconnected digital spaces that lets you do things you can’t do in the physical world. Importantly, it’ll be characterized by social presence, the feeling that you’re right there with another person, no matter where in the world you happen to be.”
Introducing Meta Quest Pro
The headline news was the Meta Quest Pro — the first entry in their new high-end line of advanced headsets, built to expand what’s possible in VR.
It’s packed with innovative features like high-resolution sensors for robust mixed reality experiences, crisp LCD displays for sharp visuals, and eye tracking and Natural Facial Expressions to help your avatar reflect you more naturally in VR.
Meta Horizon Worlds
They believe that the metaverse will bridge VR headsets, phones, laptops and desktops, and even devices that don’t exist yet, and they showed off work to bring Meta Horizon Worlds to other platforms, so you can eventually pick up your phone or laptop and visit friends who are hanging out in VR and vice versa.
If you’re watching a comedy show for example, you’ll be able to send the link to your friends so they can join without a headset, no matter where they are.
Worlds on the web is going to be the first way a lot of people around the world experience a virtual world.
They’re also making it easier than ever to build for Worlds. You used to have to build everything in VR. Now, we’re seeing incredible worlds being built by people outside VR in Crayta, a game and world building platform available on Facebook.
You’ll also be able to use TypeScript, a powerful scripting language, to make more dynamic and interactive worlds, and be able to import tri-mesh items into Worlds and build parts of your worlds using 3D content creation tools like Maya, 3Ds Max, Blender, and Adobe Substance 3D.
They announced new social innovations with the YouTube VR team. YouTube is about to feel a lot more like a shared experience on Meta Quest. If you’re hanging out with friends in Meta Horizon Home, you’ll soon be able to bring up YouTube and watch videos together, just as if you were watching together in-person.
You’ll also be able to multitask, keeping a YouTube video up while you work or browse the web in Home, and if you’re using Meta Quest Pro, you’ll soon be able to take your YouTube videos (via a 2D panel) into other VR apps.
Evolving the future of work
For the business world they are focused on creating software that improves the way you work and collaborate, both on Meta Quest Pro and Meta Quest 2.
You’ll soon be able to join Workrooms via Zoom, and they’ll be adding breakout groups, letting you seamlessly transition from large-group presentations into smaller and more intimate discussion groups, while still remaining together in the same room.
They’re also lowering barriers between VR and more traditional platforms, calling this project Magic Room. They’re working on an update for Workrooms that will let people join a virtual office from whatever device they happen to have handy.
Soon you’ll be able to join Teams immersive meeting experiences from inside Workrooms, and they’re also bringing Microsoft Windows 365 to Meta Quest, so you can stream the Windows experience on Meta Quest Pro and Meta Quest 2 devices. Additionally, you’ll be able to access the suite of Microsoft 365 apps so you can interact with Sharepoint or Microsoft productivity apps.
At last year’s Connect, they introduced Presence Platform, their suite of machine perception and AI capabilities — including Passthrough, Spatial Anchors, and Scene understanding — that let developers build more realistic mixed reality, interaction, and voice experiences that seamlessly blend virtual content with the physical world.
At 2022 they shared the newest addition to Presence Platform: Movement SDK.
Movement SDK lets avatars mimic expressions in real time using Meta Quest Pro’s inward-facing sensors. While today’s avatars rely on spatial audio and immersive graphics to help create a sense of social presence, eye contact and facial expressions will be game changers for remote meetings and virtual performances in the metaverse.
Avatars and identity in the metaverse
Your avatar is you, or at least your digital representation. And that means our avatars need to provide you with near-infinite ways to express yourself in the metaverse and across Meta’s apps. Earlier this year they launched cochlear implants, over-the-ear hearing aids, and wheelchairs, and they have more improvements coming to representation, including additional body types and shaders for more realistic skin.
They announced that the Avatar Store is launching in VR later this year, where you’ll be able to shop for virtual clothing from some of your favorite brands.
The road to augmented reality
While we’ve made a lot of progress on virtual and mixed reality, two important windows on the metaverse, a lot of work remains to be done in augmented reality, where you see digital objects overlaid perfectly on the world around you.
There are still a few years to go before the fundamental technology is advanced enough to support great AR glasses. We’ll need to see progress across the stack — compute, graphics, displays, sensors, AI, basically everything — before the dream of AR glasses is fully realized.
Hands-free functionality is a core part of Ray-Ban Stories, letting you stay connected and stay in the moment without having to fumble around for a phone. So soon you’ll also be able to call or text hands-free on Ray-Ban Stories from your phone number.
They’ll also be adding Spotify Tap playback – Just tap and hold the side of your glasses to play Spotify.