Mark Zuckerberg throws body and soul into virtual and augmented reality. The head of Facebook and its parent company Meta,filed on Monday, June 20 a collection of VR/AR headsets in development at the company. Don’t imagine getting your hands on just one of these devices right away, they’re all prototypes that Meta relies on to create the ultimate gateway to the metaverse.
Meta has been secretly working on mixed reality headsets for weeks, if not months, that can immerse us in the metaverse and display information about the world around us. The Cambria Project, that the company mentioned at the end of 2021, was one of the first bricks of this new world sought by the Facebook boss. We now know more about Meta’s various priorities on the ground.
The four challenges of Meta
The various prototypes presented by the company each focus on a specific aspect of the mixed reality experience. Overall, Facebook would have no less than 24 different products in its labs and would seek to solve four technological challenges:
- The first is that of resolution. To truly immerse us in virtual reality, the screens of these helmets must display a sufficient amount of pixels for the experience to be enjoyable. A prototype helmet called “Butterscotch” focuses on just that and “makes it easy to read the last line of an eye exam“, promises Mark Zuckerberg. With 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye, the result looks interesting, but to achieve such a density, Facebook had to significantly reduce the field of view, which shows at 55 ° (compared to 110 ° in Meta Quest 2).
- The prototype, nicknamed Half Dome, focuses on the issue of focal length. Virtual reality requires the ability to focus on objects very “near” as well as very far away from the eyes. For this, Meta also uses gaze tracking mechanismsa technology called Varifocal which allows you to switch between at least 64 different focus points.
- Then comes the problem distortion. The lenses currently built into VR headsets focus light differently depending on whether it’s coming through the center or the side. This can create optical problems such as blurring or chromatic aberration. No secret here, the effect is purely physical – since due to the shape of the lens – the best tactic to correct it is software. According to Mark Zuckerberg, Meta is working on a solution that would do the trick.invisible to the human eye“.
- Finally, the last concern Meta wants to address is that of HDR. To reproduce as closely as possible the range of light perceptible to the human eye, Meta has built a helmet (starburst) capable of reaching 20,000 nits of brightness. For comparison, the Quest 2 hovers around 100 nits. That said, this feat requires the presence of a large lighting system that requires two fans and two gloves on the helmet, otherwise it would be impossible to use. Suffice it to say that Starburst is far, far from being a finished product.
You will have to be patient
Therefore, each of the prototypes presented by Meta tries to solve one of the four main problems identified by the company in the use of virtual and augmented reality. No one yet manages to combine all the technologies to make Mark Zuckerberg’s dream come true. There is a project called Mirror Lake that is supposed to offer excellent resolution, perfect distortion correction, focal length adjustment and wide dynamic range, but the headset is purely theoretical at the moment.
A final prototype called Holocake focuses on compactness. It’s usable according to Mark Zuckerberg, but it doesn’t really benefit from the advances made in other helmets. Ultimately, the idea would be to integrate every technology into this discrete-looking helmet. “Screens to fully replicate the full capacity of human vision will unlock some really important thingsZuckerberg claimed. At the moment, one remains far from the account.