When Facebook acquired virtual reality headset maker Oculus in 2014, Mark Zuckerberg, claimed that this technology would be the next big computing platform that “
would change the way we work, play and communicate “.
Six years later, virtual reality has yet to produce the expected revolution. However, Facebook continues to bet on this technology, as well as on augmented reality. Tonight from 7 p.m. (French time), the social network will kick off its annual Facebook Connect conference so far called Oculus Connect. The event, which will take place online, can be followed on the Facebook page of Reality Labs, the company’s virtual and augmented reality team.
Facebook faces stiff competition in the virtual reality headset segment, especially from Sony and HTC. It is number 2 in sales of VR headsets, with 28% of the total estimated last year (source Statista). Sony is number 1.
Facebook Connect will begin with an opening speech. It is not yet clear who will speak, but Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives have opened these keynotes in the past. Here is a summary of the announcements that can be expected.
Oculus Quest 2
There are many signs that Facebook is going to launch a new version of the Oculus Quest. The headset was released last year and prices start at € 450.
In May, Bloomberg revealed that Facebook’s Oculus division was working on a new version of the Oculus Quest and Touch controllers, testing multiple models. Besides being lighter, some of the controllers are said to offer faster frame refresh rates in order to make the content more realistic. The new VR headset would be unveiled during Facebook Connect, but its marketing could be delayed until 2021 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the supply chain.
Social virtual reality
The Facebook Connect program includes several sessions dedicated to social virtual reality, including creating live performances and media experiences. Facebook is working on a project called Horizon which is currently in beta testing. Our colleagues at CNET.com got a glimpse of this virtual world populated by avatars, games and shows.
Augmented reality glasses
At the Oculus 2019 conference, Andrew Bosworth, who heads the virtual and augmented reality business of Facebook, confirmed that the network has already developed a few prototypes of augmented reality glasses.
According to CNBC, the glasses are codenamed Orion and Facebook is associated with Luxottica, which owns Ray-Ban. They will allow you to answer calls, see information on a screen, and broadcast live content to friends and social network followers. The launch could take place between 2023 and 2025.
Last September, Facebook said it was working on technology that could improve audio in noisy environments with augmented reality glasses. Perhaps the conference will provide an opportunity to learn more about this.
Besides virtual and augmented reality, Facebook is also working on projects that seem straight out of a sci-fi movie. The social network owns a neurotechnology start-up called CTRL-labs and is working on a bracelet to control smartphones, computers and other digital devices without the user having to touch a screen or keyboard. In 2017, Facebook announced that it was developing a neural interface that would allow users to type words and send messages using only their brains.
Article from CNET.com adapted by CNETFrance
Image: Angela Lang / CNET