Meta Connect 2023: Keeping the Meta dream alive
Honestly, we never thought we'd find ourselves talking about the Metaverse again, especially after those cringe-worthy Metaverse parties haunted our dreams. But here we are, thanks to Zuck, who's reconfirming his ambitions for a future where people can seamlessly blend the physical and digital worlds through avatars and holograms, as he revealed at Meta Connect 2023. Are we true believers in the Metaverse now? Not quite. However, Meta's focus on Mixed Reality, artificial intelligence, and smart glasses certainly caught our attention.
Wind in the sails for Mixed Reality?
Hate it or love it, the Meta Quest 2 secured its position as the world’s most widely adopted VR headset, undeniably making VR more accessible (but without the worldwide adoption they hoped for). At Meta Connect 2023, details about the Quest 3 emerged, mainly highlighting the ability for ‘colour passthrough’. This allows users, while wearing the headset and not immersed in a VR app, to perceive their surroundings in colour - a departure from the Quest 2’s monochromatic visuals. This enhancement leaves us wondering if it will breathe new life into mixed-reality apps, especially with the impending release of the Apple Vision Pro.
Speaking of Apple, Mark also definitely took a stab at Apple’s upcoming headset, saying that his new device “is completely standalone: no wires, no battery pack, nothing like that will break your sense of presence”. The Meta Quest 3 comes at a fraction of the price compared to Apple's Vision Pro, with a price tag of $500 versus a hefty $3,500. On paper, they appear to offer similar functionalities. It's bound to be fascinating to compare the two once they're both available to the public.
Meta AI: a unique approach or pure gimmick?
When it comes to AI assistants, Meta is trying to set itself apart from the rest of the industry. Their belief is that people want to interact with different AIs for different things, instead of interacting with a single super AI (like OpenAI is aiming for) that can help with almost everything.
Zuckerberg announced they’re working on a platform for creating AIs that can help you with specific tasks (like cooking or even settling arguments) and bring entertainment. The idea looks a lot like different purpose-built chatbots on ‘one platform’, and the big challenge will be: are there actual use cases for this platform?
In any case, the demo of various celebrities and influencers embodying some of the assistants was intriguing at the least. Imagine asking Dwayne Wade for sports advice, letting Paris Hilton help you solve crimes, writing jokes together with MrBeast … or playing Dungeons & Dragons with Snoop Dogg as Dungeon Master. Undoubtedly entertaining, but whether it holds substantial value remains a big question mark. Let's keep our expectations in check for now.
Hello again, smart glasses!
Do you remember when Google unveiled Google Glass a decade ago? The concept was to craft wearable glasses that resembled regular eyewear but packed a load of tech inside: cameras, a microphone, speakers, and, of course, the battery and processing power to run it all. Privacy concerns were rampant, and although these glasses found some use in business settings, they never sparked the interest of regular consumers.
They certainly boast a stylish edge, but their core idea and internal technology seem oddly familiar. This naturally raises our eyebrows, as we ponder why Meta might succeed where many others have failed. Just the fact that people couldn’t care less about Google Glass back then makes us question whether there's a demand for this technology today.
The only marginally more intriguing aspect of these new glasses is that they come pre-equipped with MetaAI. According to Meta, this allows you to ask any question at any time, and the answer magically materializes right in front of you. Furthermore, the AI can identify objects in your field of vision. But will these features be enough to kickstart widespread interest? Only time will tell.
What do we make out of this show?
While many people (including us) are still sceptical about the Metaverse, it cannot be denied that Meta is still working on hardware and software that advances the fields of mixed reality and artificial intelligence. And with the Apple Vision Pro entering the market, maybe the competition will propel innovation and real use cases forward.
The Meta Quest 3 is going to be released in less than 2 weeks, and it will be the most affordable and accessible mixed-reality headset on the market. At the least, tech enthusiasts and early adopters have something to look forward to. It’s also going to be a great entry point for developers and designers who want to experiment with augmented and virtual reality.