Facebook VP Says There Aren’t Any Plans to Release a Quest Pro or Quest 3 in 2021

Illustration for article titled Facebook VP Says There Aren't Any Plans to Release a Quest Pro or Quest 3 in 2021

Photo: Sam Rutherford

Despite dropping hints that Facebook could be working on a new more powerful VR headset, Facebook VP Andrew Bosworth made it clear recently that the company doesn’t have any plans to release a Quest Pro or Quest 3 headset anytime this year.

Advertisement

The subject of a new headset from Facebook came up recently during a podcast (recorded by UploadVR here) hosted by Facebook Reality Labs vice president Andrew Bosworth and Oculus CTO John Carmack where Bosworth admitted that even though he had previously mentioned the possibility of a more sophisticated Quest Pro headset, he wanted to make it clear that no such device is coming anytime soon.

When asked about future headsets from Facebook, Bosworth said “People are also asking about the Quest 3, which doesn’t exist yet, and everyone who is listening to us who is a reporter there isn’t a Quest 3, there’s only a Quest 2, but I did hint at an AMA earlier this year about Quest Pro because we do have a lot of things in development where we want to introduce new functionality to the headset along the kinds that people theorize that we would want to introduce, and that’s a little ways off still. It’s still not gonna happen this year.”

Bosworth then capped off the podcast by saying “For those who are curious, Quest 2 is going to be in the market for a while – for a long while, and it’s gonna be, you know, I think the best bet for the most accessible way to get into VR and have a great experience.”

Renewed speculation about Facebook’s plans for future VR hardware has recently been spurred on by the release of the Resident Evil 4 VR remake, which doesn’t run on the original Quest and is the first new title made exclusively for the Oculus Quest 2. This caused a small panic among Quest 2 owners regarding Facebook’s long-term support of its current flagship VR headset, which originally came out back in the fall of 2020.

So far, both Facebook and Oculus developers have been rather slow to begin pulling support for the original Quest, with Bosworth claiming that there are over a million people still using Facebook’s last-gen headset. However, with Facebook having designated both the original Quest and the Rift S as products that have reached end-of-life, it’s pretty clear that the Quest 2 is Facebook’s flagship headset for both mobile and desktop VR experiences for the foreseeable future.

Thankfully—with Oculus having recently announced new features for the Quest 2 including support for native wireless VR streaming (called Oculus Air Link), improved productivity features, and faster 120Hz refresh rates—it seems there’s plenty of room to continue improving Facebook’s current VR goggles without the need for all-new hardware.

Advertisement

And when it comes to what is still a relatively new branch of tech, updated components and more powerful hardware are always nice, but there’s something to be said about focusing on the stability of your platform too, which is what Facebook seems to be doing with the Quest 2.

Facebook Details Its Dream for AR Glasses, and Honestly, I Don’t Hate It

Illustration for article titled Facebook Details Its Dream for AR Glasses, and Honestly, I Don't Hate It

Photo: Ted Aljibe (Getty Images)

It’s well-known that Facebook’s partnering with Ray-Ban to develop a pair of augmented reality glasses. What’s less clear is how Facebook envisions these glasses will function, and how the company imagines people will interact with the device. A new Facebook Reality Labs blog sheds a little light on that front—and it possibly involves haptic gloves and “soft” wristbands.

Facebook Reality Labs is essentially a group of researchers, developers, and engineers working on virtual and augmented reality. Every so often, they publish deep dives into the challenges and potential of AR. This time around, FRL is addressing the interface problem with smart glasses. Namely, even if you have a bunch of notifications popping up in your field of view, you need some kind of way to interact with what you’re seeing. The now-defunct Focals by North, as well as the Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2, both had discreet finger loops that let you navigate menus. Others, like Epson’s Moverio glasses, rely on your smartphone. Neither of these methods is particularly intuitive, and it’s one reason why smart glasses just really haven’t taken off.

Advertisement

The FRL blog lays out a theoretical day of wearing Facebook AR glasses, along with what it calls a “soft wristband.” Basically, you go to a cafe and your smart glasses ask if you want to play a podcast. Instead of having to answer via your phone or finger loop, you could flick a finger and the wristband would interpret that as clicking an invisible play button. The blog then outlines a scenario where you’d be able to pull out a pair of “soft, lightweight haptic gloves” that then signal to the glasses to project a virtual screen and keyboard.

What FRL is describing isn’t as futuristic as you might think. It’s essentially tapping into something called electromyography (EMG), which harnesses electrical signals traveling from your spine to your hand. This tech already exists—the Mudra Band is an Apple Watch band prototype that lets you control certain functions by flicking your fingers. It, too, does this by reading electrochemical signals produced by your nervous system. When I spoke to the Mudra Band’s creators at CES, they also envisioned the band potentially being used for AR and VR controls. Facebook isn’t the only company with this idea.

Then there’s the haptic gloves, which Facebook believes to be an “ultra-low-friction input.” Or more simply put, gloves are much more natural to use than tech like hand-tracking cameras, microphone arrays, and eye-tracking. Haptic feedback is also supposedly an easy way to give a user feedback regarding the virtual objects you’re interacting with—kind of like a phone vibrating. Ultimately, it seems Facebook’s betting on “soft, all-day wearable systems” or “devices worn close to or on the skin’s surface where they detect and transmit data.”

It’s admittedly a clever approach, and as the blog details, would enable a more intuitive way of interacting with smart glasses and virtual environments. If you could “click” buttons with discreet finger movements, you wouldn’t necessarily have to scroll through menus. The interface could then be designed around “yes” or “no” questions, so long as the AI was powerful enough to interpret what you want in a given situation. (You can peep a concept video of what that interface might look like.)

Advertisement

That is admittedly a big “if” and probably not something we’re going to see in whatever the first, forthcoming iteration of Facebook’s smart glasses is. Facebook Reality Labs itself says in the blog that the sensing technology and highly personalized data needed to train an AI inference model simply does not exist yet. Still, the concept is surprisingly thoughtful, considering just a few weeks ago Facebook stupidly said it was mulling facial recognition for future smart glasses. Honestly, it would be great if Facebook continued investing more in ideas like these for its smart glasses, instead of creating more privacy headaches.