Facebook, now known as Meta, has taken the lead in the VR (Virtual Reality) hardware race, with the wildly successful Quest series. The Quest 2, hands-down, is the best VR headset in the world. The firm now seems set to consolidate its lead with a brand new headset – dubbed Project Cambria – which improves on the Quest 2’s features.
Cambria and its Predecessor
Said to be the device that brought VR to display technology into the mainstream, Meta’s (formerly Facebook) second-generation Quest VR headset, the Oculus Quest 2 (Now the Meta Quest 2) enabled users to enjoy a host of immersive experiences without the need to connect to a headset. Quest 2 has been so successful, that it was reported to have reached the milestone of 10 million units sold, this November.
It was a combination of breakthrough features and timing that propelled the top VR headset of 2021 into the position of glory it currently enjoys. First, its attractive price point, considering what it offers, helped make it into a virtual (pun unintentional) household name.
At $299 for the 64GB, and $399 for the 256GB variants of the device, the 1.1 lbs (0.499 kg) device houses 6GB of RAM along with 1832 x 1920 display resolution – per eye – all powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor came to market quotes well ahead of other devices in its class. It kind of set the standard. The fact that it didn’t need to be tethered to a PC, and that it offered a brilliant escape for many individuals confined to their homes by global Covid-19 lockdown regulations saw the device sales records.
Quest 2 provided quite the platform for its upcoming stablemate to leap off of, and critics have gone as far as referring to it as the Quest 3; just under different branding. One could not be faulted for thinking so, as much of Project Cambria’s base functionality is borrowed, directly, from the Quest 2 – give, more than take, a few added extras.
Although there isn’t much information to go on, as to the codenamed Cambria device, we do have an idea of what the finished product might look like. This is, in part, thanks to a Twitter user who leaked 3D renderings of the device through a post in late October.
Meta itself, followed up in early November, with a teaser video, revealing that it would likely be available for public consumption sometime in 2022. Meta also revealed that it would also be a more high-end device than its stablemate, the Quest 2 – this would fetch a slightly higher price point than what consumers have become accustomed to.
“We’re pushing the limits of what’s possible with display technology and form factor with something called ‘pancake optics’,” said Angela Chang, head of VR devices, Meta, at the Facebook Connect event, where the project was revealed. “They essentially work by folding light several times over to achieve a slimmer profile than current lenses.”
As previously mentioned, Meta’s new headset is set to be a higher-end device than the Quest series. What has been made clear – so far – is that it will host a lot more sensors than the Quest.
As a result, we don’t expect that the Cambria device will be any lighter than the Quest 2. The increased number of sensors, however, will enable the device to pick up and reflect one’s facial expressions – in real-time – onto an Avatar.
“There’s a ton of new tech going into Cambria,” explained Chang. “For example, your avatar will be able to make natural eye contact and reflect your facial expressions in real-time. This way people you’re interacting with will have a real sense of how you’re feeling.”
Project Cambria, as confirmed by Mark Zuckerberg himself, is not a rebranded version of the Quest 3, which does not yet have a release date – no prototype to speak of either, as of yet – will be a standalone line, separate to the Quest brand. With technology that makes it fitting for both leisure and industrial purposes.
The device will utilize new sensor technology called Pancake Optics, which folds light many times over to “achieve a slimmer profile than current lenses.” The aforementioned sensor technology will enable devices with the capability of accommodating a variety of facial types, including facial hair and glasses. The Project Cambria headset will also feature Augmented reality features, allowing users to interact with digital, and analog environments, simultaneously.