With one eye on the future of the Metaverse, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has unveiled a slew of prototype Meta VR headsets as the tech giant strives to make virtual reality “as vivid and realistic as the physical world”.
Immersive virtual reality experiences are set to be the cornerstone of Metaverse’s attempt, Facebook’s parent company Meta, to bring to life the concept of cyberspace as a shared 3D virtual world, home to a virtual community, economy, and marketplace. .
Meta’s Metaverse isn’t expected to go mainstream for five to ten years, but it’s far from a pipe dream. Meta already has 10,000 people working on the Metaverse and will spend $10 billion on the project this year.
As part of this work, engineers from Meta’s Reality Labs have developed a range of prototype Meta VR headsets. They’re working toward passing the Visual Turing Test, where virtual reality is virtually indistinguishable from the real world, Zuckerberg said in the recent “Inside the lab” round table.
“It won’t be long before we can create scenes of basically perfect fidelity,” Zuckerberg said. “Screens that match the full capacity of human vision are going to unlock some really important things.”
“The first is a realistic sense of presence, and it’s the feeling of being with someone or in a place as if you were physically there. And given our goal of helping people connect, you can see why that’s so important.
Zuckerberg reiterated his intention to ship a high-end VR headset this year, named Project Cambria. It will support both VR and AR, with external cameras streaming video to internal displays. Project Cambria will also come with eye tracking, a key feature of future Meta headsets.
Visual Turing Test Challenges
Beyond Project Cambria, building the perfect VR headset requires mastering four key concepts: high resolution, high dynamic range, variable focal depth, and the ability to compensate for optical distortions.
According to Zuckerberg and Michael Abrash, Chief Scientist of Meta’s Reality Labs
Zuckerberg showed off the prototype “Butterscotch” VR headset that can display near-retinal resolution – allowing the wearer to read an eye test result in VR. Achieving this feat required halving the field of view of Meta’s current Quest 2 helmet.
Meanwhile, the improved high dynamic range of VR headsets will provide more realistic brightness, shadows, contrast and color depth.
Meta’s “Starburst” HDR prototype can produce up to 20,000 nits of brightness – a big jump from the Quest 2’s 100 nits and brighter than high-end TVs – in an effort to support HDR. With exposed wires and cooling fans attached above each eyepiece, the prototype is too large and unwieldy to carry and must be held like binoculars.
In the future, the use of eye tracking will allow VR headsets to assign resolution to where the wearer is looking, while variable focal depth will allow wearers to easily focus on near and far objects, as well than to correct the optical distortions inherent in the current. lentils.
The “Mirror Lake” prototype is still in the concept stage, but promises to feature mechanical varifocal lenses and eye tracking, with the benefit of holographic lenses. The presentation also included Half Dome 3, the latest in a series of prototype VR headsets that can change focal planes depending on where the wearer is looking.
Having overcome these individual challenges with prototype Meta VR headsets, the next challenge is to combine all of these technological advances into compact, lightweight VR headsets that can run on batteries for long periods of time.
Zuckerberg unveiled the fully functional Holocake 2 prototype, Meta’s thinnest VR headset to date, which needs to be connected to a PC. It’s the successor to a 2020 design built on holographic optics, a light bending technique that allows a nearly flat panel to replace the traditional thick refracting lens.
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