#1145: Wrap-up of Meta Connect with 4 Immersive Journalists: Meta Quest Pro Impressions & Meta Reality Labs Research Demos

Meta Connect happened this past week on October 11th where Meta announced the Meta Quest Pro, and also released quite a lot of interesting information about their future strategies. I participated in a panel discussion with 3 other immersive journalists covering this space on the No Proscenium podcast episode #363 hosted by Noah Nelson (@noahjnelson) along with CNET’s Scott Stein (@jetscott), and LA Times games & themed entertainment journalist Todd Martens (@toddmartens). This Voices of VR episode is a cross-over rebroadcast of the NoProscenium podcast #363, but with some additional context and thoughts that I’ve added at the beginning and end.

[Be sure to check out the Denver Immersive Gathering Nov 4-6, immersive theater and VRChat world listings at EverythingImmersive.com, and Support the No Proscenium Patreon and Voices of VR Patreon]

I have not have a chance to have any hands on with the Meta Quest Pro or new controllers yet, and so I scoured the web to try to gather all of the hands on reviews, new interviews, and announcements that were made and synthesized it all into this Twitter thread here.

Stein did a whole hands-on review of the Meta Quest Pro, but also had a chance to try out a bunch of Reality Labs Research demos on a special invite-only field trip to Redmond, Washington. He shares a lot of his personal impressions, including that the Meta Quest Pro reminds him more of the HoloLens 2 or Magic Leap 2 with it’s emphasis on Mixed Reality that uses the stereo passthrough, color cameras to bootstrap AR experiences.

At a steep price point of $1499, the Meta Quest Pro introduces a new enterprise-focused product line to complement the consumer Quest 2 with eye tracking and face tracking and new controllers. Meta has plans to release a Quest 3 (likely by Meta Connect 2023 as reported by SadlyItsBradly here and here).

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been emphasizing a commitment to cultivating an open & interoperable XR ecosystem (both in their keynote and in interviews here and here) that is in direct contrast to Apple’s more closed & vertically-integrated ecosystem. Meta was not always living into the full potential of cultivating an open ecosystem, especially in it’s early Facebook/Oculus era where they showed much more evidence for wanting to replicate Apple’s closed walled garden ecosystem that was in direct contrast to Valve’s more interoperable approaches with SteamVR. But they are showing a lot more positive signs of living into their aspirations of an open ecosystem with their latest partnership with Microsoft announced during Meta Connect, their ongoing collaboration with Qualcomm on future generations of XR2 chip design, OpenXR work with the Khronos Group, participation on the Metaverse Standards Forum, and leading edge work with implementing WebXR in their browser with more progressive web apps showing up that they are living into more of an actualized open and interoperable ecosystem.

The limits of that interoperability will likely come when enabling interoperability will conflict with their own first-party app aspirations as they’ve shown in the past with examples such as BigScreen VR for showing movies, Virtual Desktop for game streaming, and YUR Fit for Fitness tracking.

Meta still has a disproportionate amount of power in deciding which apps are on their Quest app store (around 440 of them at my last count), and which of the more than 2000 apps are relegated to the App Lab store that are hidden from official search results.

So I’ll be playing close attention to whether or not Meta allows other systems to have an interoperable avatar systems, or if they only allow their avatars to be interoperable.

But be sure to tune into this podcast to get four different perspectives from immersive critics on all of the major the Meta Connect Announcements, the pivot back into enterprise that Meta is aspiring to make, impressions of the latest hardware, and their latest strategies for moving us into the Metaverse as we approach the one-year anniversary of Facebook’s Meta rebrand.

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality