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Meta's "iPhone moment" for its AR devices will happen in 2027 according to its AR roadmap

Meta Quest Pro being worn by a woman

According to an internal presentation of its AR and VR efforts, Meta has set out a roadmap that includes smart glasses, neural interface smartwatches, and even the device that Mark Zuckerberg thinks will be the "iPhone moment" of AR devices. The roadmap details were shared in Meta's Reality Labs division on Tuesday.

For later this year, Meta is planning to launch the flagship Quest 3 headset, which will reportedly be two times thinner, at least twice as powerful, and also costlier than its predecessor, the Quest 2. The device will feature mixed reality experiences that will integrate the real life environment with the virtual one. Mark Rabkin, Meta's Vice President for VR, told employees during the presentation that the company has sold nearly 20 million Quest headsets till date.

Rabkin said that Mixed Reality Reality will be a new "smart guardian" to help users navigate the real world. He said:

“The main north star for the team was from the moment you put on this headset, the mixed reality has to make it feel better, easier, more natural. You can walk effortlessly through your house knowing you can see perfectly well. You can put anchors and things on your desktop. You can take your coffee. You can stay in there much longer.”

Rabkin said that there will be 41 new apps and games for the Quest 3 and will include the new mixed reality experience to take advantage of the powerful hardware. We have already seen how the Quest Pro's mixed reality experience works and we can expect improvements to the same with a snappier experience and the said new features with the upcoming Quest 3.

The third generation of smart glasses, which will come out in 2025, will ship with a 'viewfinder' display using which users could view incoming text messages, scan QR codes, and translate text from one language to the other in real time. The glasses will also come with a smartwatch equipped with "neural interface" that will allow the user to control the AR experience through hand movements.

Alex Himel, Meta's Vice President for AR said that eventually, the neural watch will also let the wearer use a virtual keyboard and type the same words per minute as that of what mobile phones allow today.

Himel added:

“We don’t want people to have to choose between an input device on their wrist and smartwatch functionality that they’ve come to love. So we are building a neural interfaces watch. Number one, this device will do input: input to control your glasses, input to control the functionality on your wrist, and input to control the world around you.”

Himel also showed the employees a demo of the glasses during which the cameras on the glasses were showing the wearer's front-facing perspective during a video call. At the same time, a selfie view was being shown from the camera on watch as well. Himel said that the smartwatch with the camera will be an optional upgrade, and can integrate with other Meta apps like WhatsApp and Instagram while also offering health and fitness features.

As for the final deal, Meta's true pair of AR glasses will come out in 2027. This is Meta's most important device of the roadmap, and the company is already been working on it for the last 8 years, codenamed as "Orion". Meta is planning an internal launch in 2024 just for its employees to test the product, according to Himel. The executive added that there will be two versions of the product when it's launched in 2027, an "Innovation" line meant for early adopters, while the "Scale" line will be slightly less advanced version of it.

Himel said that Meta will rely on its existing business model of advertising to help it make money off its new generation of smart devices. However, since this time Meta will be the producer of these gadgets, the company expects a higher average revenue per user:

“We should be able to run a very good ads business. I think it’s easy to imagine how ads would show up in space when you have AR glasses on. Our ability to track conversions, which is where there has been a lot of focus as a company, should also be close to 100 percent.

If we’re hitting anything near projections, it will be a tremendous business, a business unlike anything we’ve seen on mobile phones before.”

The roadmap is part of Zuckerberg's vision to make AR the "holy grail" of devices that will apparently redefine our relationship with technology. The company went through a rebranding, to cast the idea of it as the front and center of innovation and to perhaps take eyes off various privacy- and content moderation-related scandals that hurt Facebook over the years.

Source: The Verge

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