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We're just one day away from Meta's annual Metaverse Connect event. In past years, the showcase has been where Meta (formerly Facebook) debuted hardware and software, like the Meta (formerly Oculus) Quest 2 and its Horizon Worlds social network and VR game. This year's show is once again expected to lean into Meta's VR hardware success by debuting a new, high-end Quest headset, a potential follow-up to the affordable Quest 2, and updates to Horizon Worlds' graphics.
In order to get you prepared for tomorrow's livestream, which begins at 1PM ET, we've rounded up some of the things we're expecting to see at the event. Read on to find out if you should be tuning in, or if you can safely skip Mark Zuckerberg's speech and just settle into the full post-event coverage we'll have here at ZDNET.
Whether you know it as the Quest Pro or Project Cambria, chances are you've seen at least one of the many leaks surrounding the expected star of Meta Connect 2022. While Mark Zuckerberg was seen in previous materials wearing a confirmed Project Cambria headset, it was just a few weeks back that the public got what appears to be its best look yet at the headset that will actually launch to the public as the Meta Quest Pro.
The rather unusual leak stemmed from a bag of headsets apparently left behind in a hotel, and a little-known Facebook account that stumbled across some of the biggest VR and AR hardware news in recent memory. The leaked video included the portion seen above, in which we seemingly received confirmation that the new headset would indeed be called the Meta Quest Pro.
Otherwise, the video showed us revamped controllers with much smaller tracking rings and a headset that looked almost exactly like the Project Cambria unit Zuckerberg himself had worn.
That unit, and previous leaks about it, suggest that it will switch from the Fresnel lenses used in the first two Quest headsets to "pancake" optics. This allows for an all-around slimmer, lighter design, while also eliminating the "god rays," or unwanted beams of reflected light that Fresnel lenses are notorious for adding.
Other features are expected to include things like full-color pass through using the new front-mounted cameras (improving upon the Quest 2's black and white pass through cameras); a redesigned, halo-style head strap; and the potential for new tracking features for the included controllers and the wearer's hands, eyes, or even other body parts.
While there aren't any solid rumors on pricing, the new unit is expected to be more expensive than the Quest 2, which was raised in price not that long ago to $400 for its base model. We'll have to see how much more the new, top-end headset will sell for when Mark Zuckerberg takes the stage.
If you're already worried you might be priced out of getting a new VR headset anytime soon, Meta might have something in store for you too.
We haven't seen nearly as many leaks on Meta's supposed direct follow-up to the wildly popular Quest 2. In fact, nearly everything we know, and all of the supposed leaked images (including the one above) come from one place: The SadlyItsBradley YouTube channel.
According to the VR-centric YouTuber, the Quest 3 will skip features like eye tracking, but will bring with it a major processing upgrade that should make it able to handle more graphically-intense games that would have required the Quest 2 to be tethered to a PC. This upgrade will, according to the YouTuber, come by way of a new chip Meta is collaborating with Qualcomm on. The supposed "Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2" might also ship with additional RAM and a larger maximum storage tier, according to the leaker.
Perhaps most importantly, the Quest 3 is also expected to be priced at or near the Quest 2's current MSRP. This should ensure Meta retains a consumer-friendly price point, even if the Quest Pro ends up being a bit too expensive for most users.
The term Metaverse is often called out for being quite nebulous and vague. Even Meta, which renamed itself to show its dedication to the concept, often seems a little unclear on exactly what the Metaverse will look like. However, its most monolithic early effort in defining this new universe has been Horizon Worlds, a sort of game and social experience hybrid that almost every tech blog and its brother has (relatively aptly) described as "Second Life in VR."
The app allows users to interact socially, play games together, collaborate, and more. Think of it as the infant form of what Meta hopes its eventual Metaverse will become.
Unfortunately for the company's ambitions, this early-days Metaverse has become something of a meme, particularly its rather unimpressive-looking avatars. Mark Zuckerberg's own avatar, especially, earned more than its fair share of posts about just how basic Horizon Worlds looked.
When the backlash became clear, Zuckerberg quickly took to Instagram to post what his company had in store for Horizon Worlds, promising more info at "Connect." This means we should find out more at tomorrow's event, including whether or not those upgraded avatars will have bottom halves on their bodies.
There's always the chance for a "one more thing" type moment at events this high-profile. While we don't have any solid leads on that type of moment yet, we do expect there to be the typical slate of third-party debuts that make their way into the keynote and the programming after. Expect announcements from some of the largest partners Meta has teamed with in the past, including developers of popular games and potentially third-party hardware makers.
Companies like Logitech have also already released products like the Logitech Chorus add-on for the Quest 2, which will likely see a Quest 3 follow-up. Meanwhile, device makers like Anker have teased peripherals like the Anker VR P10 earbuds that promise lag-free, wireless audio that will actually work with VR headset. It may be that some of the most exciting announcements about VR tomorrow don't take place at Meta Connect 2022 at all, but we'll just have to wait and see.