What you need to know
- Quest Pro isn't coming in 2021, but it will feature enhanced performance and new sensors when it eventually debuts.
- Facebook is not currently considering a way for kids to make accounts or to officially use VR headsets, despite the growing userbase.
- Facebook Horizon is the company's big push for how social networking should look and work in VR, and they're waiting until it "feels right" to open it up to the public.
The Oculus Quest 2 may have debuted only 6 months ago, but Facebook is already thinking ahead to what the future of VR can look like for a broader Oculus Quest ecosystem. In an interview with CNET, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked about several topics related to VR, including upcoming Oculus Quest Pro hardware, the possibility of kids Facebook accounts and accompanying hardware, as well as how he views Facebook Horizon's role in remote work and after-hours playtime.
Less than a month ago, two Facebook executives had a chat about future Quest headsets and what they want to see from the Quest line of products. Mark Zuckerberg's statements in this CNET interview echoed much of what CTO John Carmack had to say, including the existence of a Quest Pro model. Zuckerberg said that the Quest 2 was specifically designed around affordability, helping to appeal to a wider range of people than previous VR headsets because of its $299 starting price tag. Recent earnings show that the Quest 2 may have already sold 5 million units, meaning Facebook's aggressive pricing seems to be paying off.
A future Quest Pro headset would feature more sensors — likely eye and face tracking — which would significantly enhance social presence in VR apps and games. Zuckerberg said that Facebook's research division will have to consider many factors with a Quest Pro, as they'll need to figure out ways of adding additional processing power to run these additional sensors and systems, as well as still being focused on an affordable price tag and keeping the wireless nature of the Quest line. We already know that Quest 3 and Quest Pro won't happen in 2021, but Zuckerberg's statements certainly seem to imply that Quest Pro isn't too far out and could represent a similar performance difference from what we saw in Quest 1 vs Quest 2.
One of the biggest points in the interview revolved around children using the Oculus Quest 2; a big problem since you have to have a Facebook account to use Quest 2 and can't actually create a Facebook account unless you're 13 years of age or older. Zuckerberg said that Facebook currently has no plans to officially open up the gates for a Kids Quest model, or the ability to offer Facebook accounts for kids under the age of 13. His reasoning revolved around the fact that the Quest 2's IPD doesn't go low enough for most kids under 13, and the weight of the headset isn't ideal for kids' necks. There are also the legality issues of social media accounts for kids under 13, but this wasn't mentioned in the interview.
Lastly, Zuckerberg highlighted the upcoming Facebook Horizon, a sort of VR social network shared space that's designed to be used for everything from work to play. While we're mostly all familiar with the dull nature of a Zoom call, Zuckerberg says that products like Horizon will enable a more interactive space for people to meet, talking specifically about how the presence factor of VR plays into how our brains work. Without that physical space relation, our brains don't operate as effectively in remembering key points discussed between people, whereas VR helps fill that gap by providing a virtual shared space.
Facebook Horizon will also include ways to build creatively with friends, play games, and many other social aspects not currently employed well by existing social networking models. Horizon is still in closed, invite-only beta but is scheduled to come out sometime in the future. The recently launched Quest avatars are the first step to introducing Facebook's new style and universal look for players.
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