Social networks contain a large number of people or devices. And for the company like Facebook, the interest calls change day-to-day, with different stories for every situation.
Mark Zuckerberg opened up to a conversation with Casey Newton about the Facebook Connect event. Previously the event was known as Oculus Connect, which provides Facebook an annual opportunity to discuss the latest advances in next-generation computing platforms. With no uncertain payoff, there have been slight hesitations in a company that how the social network or why a social network would invest so much time and money into a hardware project. But Facebook has a clear vision after a whole lot talks about Apple all this summer that if you want to control your destiny, you have to own your platform.
To provide you all ideas about what is done at Oculus, which is now known as Facebook Reality Labs, here is a quick review. Facebook is not alone in the race of making advanced set but companies like Apple, Google, and Snap are doing their best in research and development by investing billions. But with the Oculus Quest, arguably became the market leader in VR was the standalone headset that Facebook introduced last year. So the company has now focused more on increasing the base users for its standalone headset. A company like Sony also makes a popular headset, but the problem with it is that you’ll need a PlayStation to use it.
Quest 2: Much cheaper VR
Yesterday Facebook announced Quest 2, positively $100 cheaper than its predecessor for $299 and less heavy to wear on. This new VR default is good if we are OK with Facebook, ignoring past news. The sales number for the Quest hasn’t been disclosed by Facebook, but Zuckerberg said that the total production of the Quest was equivalent to the number of sold units. Andrew Bosworth, leader of the company’s hardware projects, considers that the Quest 2 is a representation of a significant leap forward for the company.
He said that they are doing something that he thinks is honestly nuts and awesome. He says so because taking a product that is successful, exceeding dramatically our expectations and just retiring it way prematurely and replacing it with a better, cheaper thing is the best any production house can do. He was excited because these things certainly don’t happen often and just want to give more such products in the market.
Facebook is a few steps behind with the augmented reality. In 2016, Snap released the first generation of Spectacles but Facebook won’t have a product on the market this year. But the company is confident enough to release consumer “smart glasses”, which will be arriving next year. Meanwhile, another Project Aria has been launched which is a research prototype for more full-featured augmented reality hardware that will soon be given to Facebook employees and contractors to begin testing the new product.
Facebook is trying its best to place the bets on how the future will look like. New scrutiny over privacy, data security, content moderation, and more will come hand in hand with projects with global ambitions. So Zuckerberg opened for the talks about user security of information and why he doesn’t want an Apple watch for your face.
Mark Zuckerberg opened for the conversation for the following topics.
Where is Facebook at making VR mainstream?
Mark thinks that its VR technology is well on its way ahead. At first, the company had the milestone in their minds that first, we needed to acquire the technology so that you can take it to the place where you could have a standalone headset, it could be portable, it also provides high quality and is capable of doing all the tracking and all that. This product Quest was a major achievement for this idea. Then to get the desired audience as per the ecosystem perspective, the company had a belief that if they get to 10 million units, active users. It would have been a critical magic number for the company.
So basically this allows you to test a self-sustaining ecosystem. For that big push for the ecosystem requirement, what needs to be done by the company to attain a technology that is accessible to more people? The biggest and only answer to this question was that make it affordable and adding to the affordability, also make it portable. Although the company is not at 10 million yet, Zuckerberg is quite optimistic that over the next few years, they will achieve the goal. This would completely be a new stage for the VR shortly.
What Facebook aims for AR glasses?
It is going to be a lot harder for AR. Zuckerberg thinks that AR is not going to be good until you get normal-looking glasses whose purpose is to project holograms into the world. With the glasses ranging from different shapes of frames from thick to pretty thin, it doesn’t seem that company is anywhere near getting all the electronics that you would need to get into a thin frame. But the AR could be brought in normal looking glasses by the first half of the decade.
This will be a challenging task as this technology can have multiple approaches to get it into working. The progression to this technology has many steps and many makers are taking the biggest shortcut which is trying to not do full holograms in the world, and just show some heads-up information. And Zuckerberg calls this tech as “putting an Apple Watch on your face.”
This type of tech doesn’t find the attention of Zuckerberg as it’s not a product that they’re particularly excited about making. Any other company can also make it what and could gather attention but it doesn’t fit the kind of social use cases that the company primarily cares about.
So what is Zuckerberg’s expectations from AR glasses?
Zuckerberg wants the feeling of presence that will excite him more about augmented and virtual reality. He clarifies further by saying that at first when the first computing devices were rolled out, it lacked the feeling of its presence, which is true with these shortcut AR glasses.
And so whatsoever, the one which acknowledges the idea of a sense of presence will excite him. Although the VR and AR technologies will spice the thing up about how you watch the world. A new environment is fully immersed in front of you by VR and on another hand, AR aims to bring people into your existing environment through the use of holograms. So instead of video chat, as Zuckerberg says that he will be witting on his couch and your hologram can just appear on the couch next to him or his hologram into your house.
And a major excitement about this technology is that there will be the availability of virtual objects that we can interact with together. The basic example could be playing a game of cards with both of the users having the cards from the same deck of cards.
As the music app Spotify gave us access to the back catalog of music, VR is going to give us access to the back catalog of objects that we can look at or that we can interact within our day to day life. Certainly, a different experience than the kind of 2D video chat that we have today will be completely changed.
Zuckerberg feels like they have been developing social software in these closed boxes that are defined by other platforms for his whole life and the whole existence of his company. And he is excited to be able to break out of some of these boxes and search for a place where the interaction is a more natural one.
Has pandemic changed the idea of your VR?
Zuckerberg thinks COVID has shifted the idea of the interest of many companies. For many users, the need and concept of remote presence with video are now much more in the limelight and mainstream than it was before. As it was only used when it was pretty certain they could arrive for the purpose. But now like everyone’s is sitting on it all the time and so the availability of people has become much more mainstream now through video, not necessarily through AR and VR.
A lot of people consider VR is this niche & a smaller thing and AR is the much-needed technology. But his thinking on this topic has shifted. As he thinks VR is going to be quite important for people for the near future and in the upcoming years Zuckerberg thinks it’s going to just grow significantly faster.
What’s with Project Aria, security with putting the camera on the head?
Over the last several years Zuckerberg has developed some of his thinking that no one wants to wait until someone has issues about discussing how you want to address those issues. It is also not an internal discussion within a company but having a social conversation publicly about how society thinks these things should be addressed is a completely different context. As these discussions take a lot of time to establish and hardware development of the cycles are long. The company is mapping out the hardware that they’re going to be shipping in 2024 now. And if any of the issues appear up, it will certainly take a long time before you can fully address those things of social conversation.
There won’t be any scarcity of questions related to the AR, VR. Moreover, if we ask a lot of people what expectations they have from glasses, it is quite normal that they would like to know that to be able to go into a room with a lot of other people and have the glasses tell them who the people are. And anyone of us would love to have those glasses, but this tech would raise questions about facial recognition, biometrics, and what information you should be able to have access to. These are day to day questions which people are going to ask but every question doesn’t have a straightforward answer to it.
Zuckerberg thinks that to have these discussions and conversations now, will help to have early consensus before the technology is ready. So this approach is incredibly important.