The new Meta headset Quest Pro, which blends the real and virtual world, debuts

Oct 11 (Reuters) – Meta Platforms (META.O) It unveiled the Quest Pro virtual and mixed reality headset on Tuesday, marking a milestone for CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s foray into the high-end market for extended reality computing devices.

The headset, which was introduced at the annual Meta Connect conference, will hit shelves October 25 at $1,500 and will offer consumers a way to interact with virtual creations superimposed on a full-color display of the physical world around them.

The launch is an important step for Zuckerberg, who last year announced plans for the device — then called Project Cambria — at the same time he changed his company’s name from Facebook to Meta to signal his intent to refocus the social media giant into a business. which runs a shared immersive computing experience known as the metaverse.

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Since then, Zuckerberg has spent billions of dollars on that vision. Reality Labs, the Meta unit responsible for bringing life back to life, lost $10.2 billion in 2021 and has lost nearly $6 billion so far this year.

In a speech at the event, Zuckerberg, who is partly recorded in video and partly as an avatar, said he expects the blending of the physical and digital worlds to bring new uses for computing.

“You will see completely new classes of things being built,” he said.

The Quest Pro features several upgrades over the current Quest 2 headphones from Meta, which largely dominate the consumer virtual reality market.

Most strikingly, it has outward-facing cameras that capture a kind of live 3D broadcast of the physical environment around the wearer, enabling mixed reality novelties such as the ability to hang a virtual painting on a wall in the real world or make a virtual ball bounce off a real table.

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By contrast, Quest 2 offers a more primitive, grayscale version of this technology, called Transit.

The Quest Pro feels lighter and thinner than its predecessors, with a thinner pancake lens and a relocated battery on the back of the headset, distributing its weight more evenly while reducing overall size.

For fully immersive virtual reality, Meta has added tracking sensors to the Quest Pro that can replicate users’ eye movements and facial expressions, creating the feeling that the avatars are making eye contact.

Productivity framing

Meta is promoting the Quest Pro as a productivity device, aimed at designers, architects, and other creative professionals.

In addition to offering Horizon social platforms and workspaces, the company has also produced virtual copies of Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) Business products such as Word, Outlook and Teams are available, a partnership that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella joined with Zuckerberg for advertising.

Matthew Ball, the venture capitalist whose writings on Metaverse have drawn praise from Zuckerberg, said he considered such partnerships important because they suggested companies’ commitment to interoperability, or the idea that different systems should communicate with each other.

“There is a lot of skepticism in the market about whether interoperability and open is even feasible, let alone feasible,” he said, noting that Microsoft and Meta are competing for many products in the expanded reality space.

In a preview of Quest Pro days before its launch, Meta gave reporters a glimpse into what kind of user had in mind for showcasing productivity by showcasing apps like Tribe XR, a virtual training environment for DJs.

The Tribe XR is already available in VR, but a demo showed how transit technology can enable DJs to use the app to play gigs in the real world, as it means they can look beyond their virtual devices at actual partygoers.

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Meta plans to sell the Quest Pro in consumer channels to begin with, while adding enterprise-grade capabilities such as mobile device management, authentication, and premium support services next year, executives said at the press event.

They said the device is intended to complement rather than replace the entry-level Quest 2, which retails for $399.99.

For now, this means that Quest Pro stops enabling the complex commercial applications that Meta has suggested it wants to support for metaverse technology.

The company is still working on a mixed reality experience for its Horizon Workrooms app that will make a person’s avatar look like they’re in a real-world meeting room with other users, which it calls Magic Rooms.

Zuckerberg said she also plans to add legs to her avatars, which are currently displayed from the waist up.

However, the Quest Pro’s price puts it well below the cost of current enterprise-focused devices like Microsoft’s Hololens 2, which were released for commercial use in 2019 and are already in operating rooms and on factory floors.

Hololens 2 for beginners sells for $3,500.

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Reporting by Katie Paul in Palo Alto, California. Editing by Kenneth Lee, Jonathan Otis and Matthew Lewis

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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