The next six months are critical to Meta’s future build of the “metaverse” as the company prepares to launch a new high-end headphones in 2022, as we strive to execute other priorities “smoothly”.
Cambria is the public code name for the upcoming high-end stand-alone headset featuring higher-resolution color cameras packaged in a sleeker visor and aimed at both home workers and early adopters of mixed reality. The device is equipped with a depth sensor plus face and eye tracking to control avatars in simulated social settings. According to a memo from The Verge and fully published on its website† The memo outlines Meta’s immediate priorities across the company as it continues to transform from its previous corporate identity as Facebook. A paragraph from that memo, allegedly written by Chief Product Officer Chris Cox, specifically outlines the next steps toward “how we will deliver the next computing platform in our portfolio in Reality Labs.”
The key parts of that paragraph are bolded below:
Metaverse: Avatars and Horizon Worlds + Platform remain top priorities and our focus is now on execution. On Avatars we need to finalize our new art stylefully launch our avatar art store and enhance avatar experiences in VR and the Family of Apps. In Horizon we focus on the core experience: increasing growth and retention through improved performance and reliability, launching cross-screens, integrations across the entire family of apps, and building new social experiences into the product. As critical product infrastructure, we are focused on sending Project Simile to launch corporate accounts accessible anywhere on Family of Apps and Reality Labs devices to strengthen continuity in the metaverse† at hardware, we are focused on the successful launch of Cambria in H2, inaugurating our prosumer/industrial mixed reality product line†
While much of this was already known, the paragraph was accompanied by a stern warning that “we must perform flawlessly in a slower growth environment.” Last year, John Carmack, Meta’s technical advisor, warned that building the so-called “metaverse” comes with a lot of risks, “we could spend years and thousands of people and end up with things that haven’t contributed all that much to the ways people using the devices and hardware today”, he said† This year Meta has been cancel projects and adjusting its long-term product plans as part of a process its chief technology officer Andrew Bosworth calls “ruthless prioritization†
Bosworth said in a question & answer session on Instagram this week that Meta is “still on the road to shipping augmented reality glasses, but that path is long and winding…things pay off well, but they deliver late and they’re expensive.” The company recently presented a new research concept for an ultra-thin headset in the format of “ski goggles”. Currently known as “Mirror Lake”, the concept of VR optical research at Meta puts the long-term view of passing the “Visual Turing test” so that the images from a headset are indistinguishable from reality.
While Cambria will be priced way out the consumer market for most people, it will also run Quest VR games and move Meta to his ultimate goal of AR glasses.