Meta recently previewed a futuristic-looking VR headset concept in a metaverse promotional video. There’s no confirmation that this is a real product in development, but the new device is clearly much more advanced than a Quest headset and even slimmer than the upcoming Cambria headset.
Fingertip sensors are also shown and can help identify finger location quickly and with great precision, as well as provide haptic feedback.
These glimpses of the future were found as part of Meta’s pattern of posting a few videos each month representing short-term hardware and others a little further to future VR headsets†
In the most futuristic video, Meta envisions a time when the metaverse could have a rendering quality indistinguishable from reality, or maybe the company just took an artistic license. There is little doubt that this will ever be possible, but it is difficult to say when that will happen. Three practical examples of the metaverse were given in the video.
When attending a lecture, that is accessible through the metaverse, students can be physically present or teleport to a chair and the professor can manipulate virtual 3D objects such as a biological cell to discuss its metabolism. The cell can be thrown at a student and examined more closely as it divides.
A little further on, a medical student practices surgery on a virtual patient using an advanced VR headset and fingertip sensors that may provide greater precision and haptic feedback. This type of training, which can be repeated hundreds or thousands of times, would be very useful before moving on to cadavers for hands-on experience.
Finally, Meta’s concept video shows history come alive with modern students visiting ancient Rome and watching Mark Antony debate Julius Caesar’s flaws and merits as ruler. The students can walk around and watch the scene as if they were really there.
Another video illustrates the current state of VR and how a father and daughter can connect while fishing, despite being nearly 2,000 miles apart. Meta has not identified the app, but it appears to be Real VR Fishing, a multiplayer fishing simulation now available for Quest and Quest 2 VR headsets for $20. That’s right, the metaverse is already there in some ways.
While the potential of the future metaverse is certainly very alluring, much work remains to be done before this vision becomes a reality. The early versions of classrooms, hands-on training, and historical sites already exist in various apps and are well done within the limitations of current hardware. The near future and what will become possible with more advanced headsets remains to be seen.
The wait won’t be long Meta’s Cambria, a more expensive VR headset, is expected later this year. It will be interesting to see how well Meta’s Cambria can portray the early metaverse and how immersive the experience can be.