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Meta Connect 2023: Where was the Metaverse?

That is a wrap. After weeks of anticipation from the XR community, audiences were ready to see how Meta concluded its 2023 following a dip in faith at the start of the year.

XR audiences fully expected Meta to unveil its Quest 3 product during the event, which the firm announced with an October 10 release date. Moreover, the firm doubled down on its AR smartglasses product portfolio with its new Meta Ray-Ban product, due October 17.

The product showcase event primarily focused on consumer-focused applications for the Meta Quest 3. However, during the event’s keynote, company CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke on the workplace potential of Meta’s technology. Moreover, the CEO discussed how the firm’s smartglasses roadmap seeks to introduce spatial/AR computing to everyday life.

The event also highlighted Meta’s advancements in genreative AI; notably, the firm is keen to embrace the technology alongside its advancements in XR. The firm highlighted how AI integrated into AR smartglasses can provide real-time assistive reality features.

The event showcase also introduced updates for Meta’s expanded portfolio, such as its social media applications; many of Meta’s services are gaining generative AI features.

Where was the Metaverse?

Notably, the Metaverse was partially absent during the Connect 2024 showcase. While Zuckerberg noted that the firm had not forgotten the technology and its Horizon service, the lack of Metaverse news stood out compared to last year’s event, where the Metaverse was front and centre – with accompanying lofty promises.

Following last year’s connect event, the Metaverse hit a significant hurdle with the technology failing to launch with long-standing retention among XR and broader audiences. The Metaverse also saw much of its media visibility overtaken by the equally emerging generative AI hype wave.

Now both hype waves are slowing down, firms like Meta are recognising the cross-pollination abilities of AI and XR.

In terms of the Metaverse, Zuckerberg noted how AI would drive core usability. The CEO noted:

We’re also building a sandbox that will be released in the coming year, enabling anyone to experiment with creating their own AI. – As our universe of AIs continues to grow and evolve, we’ll bring this sandbox to the Metaverse, giving you a chance to build AIs that adopt an even greater level of realism, embodiment, and connectedness.

Moreover, while the Metaverse didn’t take centre stage, products like the Meta Quest 3 will drive Metaverse adoption rates, Meta hopes.

During his keynote, Zuckerberg explained that affordable and accessible hardware would drive software usage, adoption rates, and, therefore, Metaverse userbases.

Zuckerberg explained:

But to build the future, it’s not just enough to make this possible. We have to make it so that it is affordable and accessible to everyone. That’s why we focus our innovation not only just on groundbreaking innovations but on making sure that these things are accessible to everyone because, to us, that is just as important as advancing the state of the art.

While Meta is rebuilding its Metaverse services, based on a years experience, the end product that lands in users laps should be enhanced thank to the firms AI advancements.

Building AI Alongside XR, Responsibly

XR and AI operated in tandem could lead to significant advancements in computing technologies, say many experts in the field from firms like Meta and Microsoft.

Zuckerberg noted that “one area that I am especially interested to see. Is how the advances in AI intersect with advances in building the next computing platform.”

During Connect 2023, when Meta revealed the next iteration of its Ray-Ban product, the firm noted how its latest Ray-Ban immersive product will leverage AI assistant technology for various consumer use cases.

Meta’s in-house AI framework will boost the usability of the product, with Zuckerberg adding:

These are the first smart glasses that are built and shipped with Meta AI in them. – One area that I am especially interested to see. Is how the advances in AI intersect with advances in building the next computing platform.

Zuckerberg also noted how smart glasses could be an “important platform for the future.” The CEO explained that AI-ready AR products are essential not only because the technology is “a natural way to put holograms in the world” but also because smartglasses are “the ideal form factor” to let an AI assistant “see what you’re seeing and hear what you’re hearing” – therefore driving AI adoption.

Zuckerberg added:

Before this last year’s AI breakthroughs, I kind of thought that smartglasses were only really going to become ubiquitous once we really dialled in the holograms and the displays, which we are making progress on but is somewhat longer, but now I think that the AI part of this is going to be just as important in smartglasses being widely adopted as any of the augmented reality features.

Moreover, the abilities of the Ray-Ban product don’t stop at simple instructional visualisations. Meta is also planning to support the device going into 2024 with enhancements that add new features to the product’s AI and AR framework. According to Zuckerberg, AR-ready Ray-Ban smart glasses can translate a sign or provide context to a historical landmark in the future.

Zuckerberg added:

Starting next year. We are issuing a free software update to the glasses that makes them multimodal. So, the glasses are going to understand what you are looking at.- Before any of these AI advancements came up, we started planning this product.

Additionally, Meta will open up artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot technologies, including the Meta AI Studio platform. Based on Llama-2, it will partner with Microsoft and Bing Search for its knowledge pool.

Meta AI will also operate across chat applications, including Quest 3 headsets and the company’s family of apps (FoA), providing applications for “fun” and narrow, task-focused applications.

The AI revolution is squarely in Meta’s sights. The firm is introducing AI to all of its major platforms, products, and services. Meta is promoting its conscious AI development plans to stay ahead of its competition in the emerging space and to build it responsibly.

Meta leverages safety and responsibility training for its Llama-2 Ai framework, ideally readying the firm’s entry into the emerging space with the utmost user privacy and respect.

On the other hand, Microsoft is highlighting the cross-pollination of AI and MR, with company officials recognising AI as “the eyes and ears of XR.” The firm is working to create a series of immersive business applications via its industrial Metaverse 2024 roadmap that is operating in parallel with its latest AI initiative.

Meta Quest 3 and Ray-Ban Smartglasses Specifications and Details

Meta will debut two versions of the Quest 3 this month, including a 128GB model costing $499.9 and a 512GB model costing $649.99.

The Quest 3 is a standalone MR headset that enables users to leverage hand-tracking inputs to interact with immersive applications – the device also comes with controllers for traditional input methods. However, the Quest 3 device does not support eye-tracking. Meta also claims the Quest 3’s improved spatial audio system is 40 percent louder than the Quest 2.

Additionally, other Quest 3 technical specifications include:

  • 4K resolution “Infinite Display” (2064×2208 pixels per eye)
  • Snapdragon XR2 Gen2 chipset
  • Pancake lens
  • Spatial audio
  • Two RGB cameras with 18 PPD
  • 8 GB of DRAM
  • 515-gram weight
  • 90 Hz, 120 Hz (experimental) refresh rate
  • 110 degrees horizontal and 96 degrees vertical
  • 58 mm-71 mm IPD lens adjustment
  • TruTouch variable haptics
  • Meta Quest Link cable and Air Link support
  • 2.2 battery life based on “hours of usage on average.”
  • Wi-Fi 6E support

On the other hand, the Meta Ray-ban product comes in two models: Wayfarer and Headliner. Each product costs $299; both versions support 100% UVA & UVB protection.

The device comes with the following features:

  • 4 hours of battery life per charge
  • An external battery case that supports up to 32 hours of charging
  • The device roughly supports 30 minutes of live streaming at 720p, 30 FPS
  • Meta AI support in English, Italian, and French
  • Prescription lens support
  • Two open-ear speakers that support roughly 76.1dB volume output, which Meta claims is 50 percent louder than the first iteration and has 2X more bass
  • Five separate microphones to detect voice inputs
  • 12 MP ultra-wide camera
  • 1440 x 1920 pixels at 30 fps display
  • Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3 support
  • iOS 13.0, Android 8.1, and above compatibility

The device’s competitive features will enable users to access the emerging AI features, direct Facebook/Instagram video streaming, and audio calls.



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