$1,500 Quest Pro Ticket to Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, unveiled a highly anticipated new VR headset on Tuesday during its annual Meta Connect Developers Conference.

new headset, called Quest Pro, is a high-end device that is as functional as a computer. In a keynote on Tuesday, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg called the new device “the next major step for virtual reality” and “an important milestone on the road to creating the metaverse.”

“We are now at a point where many of the technologies that will power the metaverse are starting to gain momentum,” Zuckerberg told Connect.

Zuckerberg is betting that one day AR/VR devices will become as ubiquitous as mobile phones or laptops, and the Quest Pro is an important way for the company to demonstrate the promise of that vision. Quest Pro is Meta’s first “mixed reality” device. This means that you can see virtual objects superimposed on your everyday real environment, as opposed to pure virtual reality where you are completely disconnected from reality. The physical headset is designed to fit more comfortably on the head and features inward-facing eye tracking sensors so your metaverse avatars can naturally mimic your facial expressions.

These are definite improvements to Meta’s existing VR/AR products. But there’s a major hurdle that could prevent Quest Pro from realizing Zuckerberg’s ambition to take his metaverse plan into the mainstream: price. The Quest Pro costs almost $1,500. This is a price that is out of reach for many ordinary consumers, especially during an economic downturn. This is 275% more than his latest AR/VR release, Quest 2.

That’s why Meta is selling its new AR/VR device as a work product for people like architects, product designers, and molecular chemists who are willing to pay for a powerful tool. Many of these professionals use 3D modeling in their daily work, which can justify the cost of a headset. That’s why Meta has announced a partnership with Adobe to host its 3D design software in virtual reality, and also with Microsoft to host its entire office product suite on Quest Pro.

At the Meta Connect presentation on Tuesday, the company gave several examples of how some companies are already using their AR/VR products, such as shoe companies Puma and New Balance developing products in virtual reality, and pharmaceutical company Novartis doing nanomolecular design with this technology. .

But if Meta positions its preeminent metaverse product as a high-end product for niche industry professionals, what’s left for everyone else? If the metaverse is to become the next wave of computing, like today’s Internet or mobile phone, as Zuckerberg predicts, then it needs a critical mass of users, not just a small group of professional users who use it for a particular industry. Applications.

Early smartphones or proto-smartphones such as the iPhone and BlackBerry were also prohibitively expensive at first for many general consumers, but over time wireless providers began to subsidize their access. And the usefulness of these phones for a wide range of professions and interests (such as being able to check email on the go for the first time, or pairing an mp3 player with a phone) has justified their cost – which for the iPhone has actually increased over time. For Meta AR/VR products, there is currently no external subsidized network provider, and the use cases are not as strong for general users. However, this may change in the future if AR/VR use cases become more attractive both at work and on social media.

To Meta’s credit, creating AR/VR is expensive. Meta has released some of the most affordable AR/VR headsets on the market to date. Zuckerberg recently told The Verge that the company’s strategy is not to make money from its AR/VR equipment, and many have speculated that he was selling his other AR/VR product, Quest 2, at a loss of $399. (Prior to August, it cost $299, several hundred dollars less than some of its top competitors.)

But the Quest Pro, like many new technologies, faces other hurdles, such as the fact that it can only be used for one to two hours on a full charge, making it difficult to use outside of a home or office that has a charging station. comfortable. And the fact that his avatars still don’t have all the convincing qualities of normal human life, like legs (Zuckerberg promised them at some point in the near future).

But the biggest problem for Meta will be its availability. The personal computer, the Internet and the mobile phone have revolutionized society. But these devices only began to fundamentally change the way we communicate when they became affordable and affordable enough to become mainstream. On Tuesday, Meta said it’s serious about improving the quality of the technology it offers in VR/AR, even if it’s still a long way off. But it faces an even more pressing problem: We’re not yet at the point where the products that come closest to achieving the Metaverse vision are affordable to the average user.

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