By betting everything on the metaverse, Meta, formerly Facebook, is taking risks. The first is that of failing to offer a convincing pair of glasses to promote augmented reality.
Virtual reality, Meta masters, mainly thanks to the know-how of the Oculus teams. The latter have also been completely absorbed by Meta, to the point that the Oculus Quest headset now responds to the sweet name of Meta Quest. It is one of the first gateways into the firm’s metaverse, with applications related to entertainment, but also to business productivity.
AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES TO CONVINCE
However, for Mark Zuckerberg, the metaverse cannot be reduced to virtual reality : for the boss of Facebook/Meta, it is augmented reality that will allow the concept to really develop . Internally, the entrepreneur therefore describes virtual reality glasses as “The Holy Grail that will redefine our relationship with technology” , as smartphones were able to do a dozen years ago.
According to sources close to Meta interviewed by the site The Verge, the company’s roadmap would involve the arrival on the market of a first generation of augmented reality glasses in 2024 . Should then follow a new generation every two years. The project is ambitious, but, internally, the challenge is still far from being met.
WHEN THE “NAZARE PROJECT” SKATES
The first generation of these augmented reality glasses, which is called “Project Nazare” internally, should be able to work without a smartphone . This would be possible thanks to the presence of a small remote box, which would retain part of the electricity necessary for the operation of the device. A system which, according to Mark Zuckerberg, would promote user immersion.
An ambitious proposal, but which promises to be extremely expensive to develop and produce . Billions of dollars have already been spent on R&D and given the components integrated into the first version of the glasses, a pair would cost much more than a Meta Quest helmet , sold for 349 euros . Meta therefore expects to spend a lot of money on a niche product that will sell very little in its first version .
And that’s without taking into account the design difficulties that have already led to several postponements of the launch window. The observers quoted by The Verge have doubts as to the realism of a release in 2024: the project to create an operating system in augmented reality has already been abandoned by the firm , because it did not allow this deadline to be met. .
FROM NAZARE PROJECT TO LAZARE PROJECT?
If Mark Zuckerberg is investing so much money in the development of a pair of augmented reality glasses, it is not only because he firmly believes in the future of the metaverse. It is also because Meta needs to once again become an innovative, forward-looking company : after the setbacks encountered by Facebook in recent years, in particular with the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018 and the issues around privacy and manipulation of news feeds in 2021, it takes much more than a name change to restore its image .
By offering new high-tech products, Mark Zuckerberg hopes to make Meta a company recognized for something other than its sulphurous business of its last years . It now remains to move from theory to practice.
Image Credit: META