Metaverse is not just about Microsoft Metaverse. There are several big and numerous smaller players heading into the Metaverse. While I do tend to focus on Microsoft Metaverse because it plays at the enterprise level. These two recent news in the post subject really got my attention as well as Ready Player Me, so I decided it is time to write about something else beyond Microsoft as well.
Meta Project Cambria and it’s impact to Mixed Reality
Project Cambria is rumored to be the follower for Meta Quest 2 (formerly Oculus Quest 2) and coming out probably next year. I have to say I was amazed to see what it was able to do. While Microsoft HoloLens 2 relies on adding screens to your field of vision via a sort of HUD technology Project Cambria is using cameras to capture your external surrounding and displaying it in the headset.
I was quite impressed by the demo I saw in Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook post. Being able to see your surroundings inside the headset and add mixed reality elements looks a really interesting – and less expensive – way to achieve augmented reality to some level . Camera & display won’t be matching human eye in details but I can see this will be the way mixed reality will be brought to life in various (less expensive) scenarios. Surely it will look a bit odd from outsiders and the device is by no means light. It is a full VR headset just like Meta Quest 2, but equipped with cameras.
If you don’t want to go to Facebook to see the Project Cambria video, here is a capture of that demo. Mark Zuckerberg stated on his post
The World Beyond displayed is Meta’s demo that looks like it will be available for Meta Quest 2. That demo experience won’t utlize full color passthrough since Quest 2 passthrough only support black & white. It will very interesting to test it out using Quest 2 headset.
What I liked about that demo, is also how it was able to control the headset without controllers – hand tracking seems to be at quite a good level. I have used Meta Quest 2 without controllers for a few times now, but let’s face it that controllers are really the must have for most activities. Hopefully Project Cambria can change that. What I loved when testing Microsoft HoloLens 2 was the futuristic way of reaching out to holograms and objects – on top of AR that is. Quest 2 hand gestures are far away from that experience.
Meta is not the sole creator of Mixed Reality headsets that rely on the camera technology for displaying external world. Varjo XR-3 already has that support and device is out. This device is aimed purely towards enterprise and business level – especially due to it’s higher price. With that the specs are also on the very top level – probably the best Mixed Reality headset that is availalble in the market. Read more from Varjo:
Thinking about the market it will be interesting to see what will be the price for Project Cambria. If it is beyond the magical 1000 (bucks or euros) it won’t be as mainstream for a long time. Meta Quest 2 has good specs for it’s price and thus we are seeing it “everywhere”.
I predict we will see more headsets that cameras to record and show your surroundings and embedding AR there for near future. It has the benfit of duplicating both VR and AR headsets to one device. But that approach is mostly usable only when there is only a single person in a room. In hybrid work and meeting scenarios that headset won’t be seen because we want to see and interact with others who are in the same physical space with us. In the long term – we will see much smaller AR glasses or goggles, that can project the vision like HoloLens 2 does today. Just being smaller. So with that, let’s go to the Google Smart Glasses chapter.
Google Smart Glasses
Google has been on smart glasses field for some time. While consumer version coming out 2013 and fading out quite soon due to privacy and price Google didn’t stop working with smart glasses. They released Glass Enterprise Edition that is already on version 2. While their pages don’t tell anything about prices it looks to compete with Microsoft HoloLens 2. While Google Glass looks lighter and more comfortable HoloLens 2 looks more versatile and enterprise & industrial ready.
Why Google Glass is in this post now, is that recently there were news about upcoming version presented in Google IO keynote. These glasses are clearly positioned for making everyone included by enabling translations “live captions or subtitles for the world” right to your glasses.
For me this looks quite a great way to engage in talks with others, even if you don’t know their language. You can do lots of this using your mobile phone already, but you would be looking at the phone instead of the person you are interacting with. Depending when these glasses come out and what will be their price tag & what else they can do this can be a really interesting way to bring metaverse to ordinary life.
And it looks like these glasses can also translate menus and texts. With this, it will be even easier to travel to other cultures and cross those language barries.
That keynote video had also the best piece left last. Glasses like this can help deaf and hard on hearing people massively, by visualising what others are saying into Live Captions. In the video it was a bit fuzzy can it also display captions based to sign language – that could bring possiblity to talk with lots of people who don’t understand sign language. That is about enabling and including everyone.
Ready Player Me – Create your Metaverse Avatar
When I was thinking about ways to create my own Metaverse avatar, a colleague tipped me about Ready Player Me-site. Of course I took a look at it and it helped me to create my own avatar based one of my photos. It is not 1:1 replica or digital twin, but some of my features are there (excluding my overweight – that is the great thing about avatars as well!).
It will be interesting to see if Mesh for Teams will support these avatars (by importing them) or will they have their own models. You can already use one Ready Player Me avatar in multiple applications to roam virtual worlds and metaverse. Since there is a way to use these with Unity, it means we could start (probably) to add these in AltSpace worlds (not as avatars, but objects) and hopefully with Microsoft Mesh in the future.