One of the biggest news in the world of Big Tech this month was the rebranding of Facebook. Just like the parent company of Google is now called Alphabet, Facebook’s parent company has changed its name from Facebook Inc. to Meta Platforms. Its subsidiaries – Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus – will keep their respective brands. The company will, in turn, take social media to the next level: into the Metaverse.
What is the Metaverse?
A metaverse is, simply put, either a digital replica of the real world or a fantasy world that can be “inhabited” by users online. This definition is pretty broad, of course, but the only thing more specific is currently Second Life, a metaverse launched by Linden Lab in the early 2000s. But every online community socializing in a virtual world, no matter if it’s an MMO or the top online poker Australia has to offer, can be considered one.
Now, Mark Zuckerberg has a much more specific idea for his Metaverse (with a capital M): a digital realm where people can not just play and socialize but also work, shop, and interact in many ways. For this, Meta will rely on virtual and augmented reality, providing both the hardware, the platform, and the services.
The Oculus Quest 2 is pretty much the stand-alone VR headset currently on the market. While it may seem lightweight compared to what PC is usually needed for immersive VR gaming, it is surprisingly powerful – and it has an ever-increasing number of quality games and experiences available on it. But it’s a bit old – it was released a year ago – so the time seems ripe for a successor.
Instead of a “Quest 3”, though, Meta announced a successor to the headset but not a direct successor but an upcoming premium headset called Project Cambria. It will truly be a step forward in the evolution of virtual reality – and augmented reality, too.
Cambria – currently a prototype – will come with stacked pancake lenses to make the headset more compact, and will focus on face and eye tracking, introducing new and better ways of interaction in virtual reality. Plus, it will have improved cameras that will be able to capture full-color, high-resolution video of the wearer’s surroundings, going beyond VR – into AR territory.
Next-gen social media – and more
Meta’s “Metaverse” will be way more than just a Facebook-Instagram-WhatsApp hybrid in VR. Aside from Horizon Worlds, a virtual meeting place where people can hang out, watch videos, play games, and socialize, it will offer Venues, places where users can participate in various events, from concerts to basketball games. Plus, it will have Messenger calls in VR, fitness apps, and a brand new Quest for Business, a suite of features designed not for entertainment but for work in the Metaverse.