I was one of those who decided to ride the first wave of Meta Quest Pro users. It was not an easy decision to do, since by all means spending $1500 (or 1800 euros, as in my case) of my own money for a headset requires a lot of justification. Once the decision and pre-order was made I was still thinking what will be my outcome of the headset – but I was also very excited to get my hands on to it to be able to get my hands on with a very advanced VR headset aimed to business. Yes, I could game with this one (and I probably will at some point) but I am very interested to see what business opportunities Meta Quest Pro opens. Will it enable the visual Metaverse in a new way? Will it make it possible for me to present sessions in the Metaverse better than I would do them at my home office desk with video on? This is all about getting real hands-on Metaverse experiences.
The Meta Quest Pro is very good looking device, it does has resemblance in the form factor to Microsoft HoloLens 2. This design makes it easy to wear (a lot easier than Meta Quest 2 for example) and I haven’t had any issues with its weight so far. It is not a light device, but the weight is balanced on the head very nicely – just like with HoloLens 2.
The package contains everything needed, except the carrying case if you want to store or carry your headset occasionally. Using the box for that is not that convenient, but possible. The dock is actually quite a good one, once you learn how to position your headset and controllers there. I have it on my home office side desk, so I have the headset on arm’s reach all the time and this allows me to take easy steps onto the Metaverse. And the setup looks quite good there – for a tech-junkie like me I love keeping that headset on display to remind me about the Future we are living already today.
Setup was easy – the UI is Meta Quest all the way. In a way it feels like that they should have added some Pro elements to the software to make the experience during setup and use stand out more. Graphics inside Meta Quest Pro are excellent – I can read text in web pages and most of apps without any issues. Or even when I am mirroring my computer screen to the headset – I can use computer using Meta Quest Pro virtual displays. Would I do this normally at home? No, because I have a 43″ 4K display at my home office- I don’t have to use virtual ones. But for testing it out – that is great.
You can also adjust the device to match your vision – and Meta Quest Pro helps you in doing that.
I might see myself enjoying some content via VR in some cases – perhaps watching YouTube recordings of Microsoft Ignite would get an extra level with large screens. And then there is also Netflix, to watch a movie or series and to use the headset to create a big personal screen.
New controllers are a big leap forward from Quest 2. The accuracy and haptic feedback makes these very versatile and more natural to use. These just work. And you can change the wrist strap to “inking heads”, but unfortunately those heads don’t stick in place firmly enough to leave them there. Personally I would just leave straps away for most of the time – you don’t need them when doing collaboration. For action like games wrist wraps are very good to have – or you can use them to free your hand to do something else for a moment (letting the controller hang by wrist wrap) . This is something I have been thinking if I would be doing a presentation in the Metaverse – how to use the clicker and controller at the same time to advance slides.
And you can also use hand tracking with controllers – it works a lot better than with Quest 2 as well. Hand tracking is limited to the area external cameras are able to perceive, which is understandable but can be easily forgotten when doing something in the VR.
Device itself packs impressive tech. Meta Quest Pro details table from Meta’s product site.
Field of View is 106ºH × 96ºV, 5 external and 5 internal sensors and the refresh rate is either 72Hz or 90Hz depending on app.
No, it is not just “I love this tech and everything is perfect”. Far from it. While Meta Quest Pro is a great device and packs a lot of tech it could be a lot better. And as time goes, it will be nearly obsolete for heavy users in 2-3 years – this is the typical lifecycle. It doesn’t mean it will unusable, but most likely tech innovations and standards make it feel a lot like Quest 2 is today – it works, but leaves a lot of room for improvement. That takes some edge off from the investment, but if you think about it as laptop – most of them are also obsolete for heavy users after a 2-3 years lifespan. I suspect (guess, actually) that the price will drop to around $1000 in a few (3-5) months to boost the sales and also because Quest 3 will be coming out 2023 as well.
I wish they would have adopted (or stolen) one more HoloLens 2 feature in: the hinge that lets you lift up the visor without taking off the headset. With that one missing from Meta Quest Pro it means that whenever you need to do something more with the reality (like checking your phone) you need to take off the headset – or at least lift it to your forehead. I need to use glasses when I use my mobile or laptop, but I don’t need them inside the headset. This makes the switch back and forth requiring more effort. And this lack of hinge also prevents you from wearing it for a longer time and occasionally using it. This is a missed opportunity by Meta, to make this more usable in more places. When using this at the desk (home or office) it isn’t a big deal, but if you were going to walk to an another room you would need to carry the headset in hand (or in a case). All that adds for the effort to use Quest Pro for occasional needs.
Of course I can already hear at this point people thinking very loudly “it has Mixed Reality feature, it is a MR/VR headset!”. Yes, it has MR with cameras and passthrough can be on when you walk to another room. While the passthrough leaves a lot of room for improvement (let’s home future software updates will do some fixing) the issue would be that you have only a couple of hours of battery with Meta Quest Pro. If you want to keep it on your head you need to have it turned on to walk around the home/office/outside and that reduces the actual usage time when you will be participating in a workshop or meeting. Passthrough is quite grainy and has high contrast setting in the video – I have to say I am wondering why $1500 headset has such a poor external cameras? Marketing videos by Meta are showing a very different result – which is a disappointment. On the other hand, the passthrough is a leap forward from Quest 2 where it was almost unusable. I can use the passthrough to walk in the house, I can even type on my laptop (not as effortless as without a headset) but I can’t read my laptop or phone screen via that. Or anything else via passthrough for that matter. So this is an another issue the headset has. With hinged visor this would not bother as much.
Of course you can attach the headset to USB-C cable to extend its use time, but I think one of big advantages of this headset is the untethered approach that lets you be creative and enjoy the virtual side. Personally I don’t think I am going to hit the battery limit very often, since I put the headset to the dock between uses. This is also good for taking a break from the cyber world.
Meta had also to drop some features along the development process – depth sensor being one of them. Especially if compared with Microsoft HoloLens 2 the Mixed Reality side for Meta Quest Pro has a huge gap. And yes, it does not have 120Hz refresh rate (at least not yet, this may come with updates later).
Meta Quest Pro is primarily a Virtual Reality headset that has some Mixed Reality features added to it. Using cameras for MR is a good thing, but cameras (passthrough) should be a lot better and have depth sensor included to be able to scan surfaces and use the space (rooms) in a remarkable way. Don’t buy Meta Quest Pro if you are planning to use it primarily for MR purposes.
Above was the critique part. Now let’s go for the cool and wow part and what Meta Quest Pro enables you to do in the Metaverse. Facial expression and eye tracking is one of those things that are surely making a big difference. With cameras and sensors tracking your face you can use expressions that are reflected to your avatar in real time. You don’t need to select a specific reaction from the list or find the clapping button if you don’t want to. Instead you can smile, wow or laugh and that feeling – your presence – will be carried to others in the space. You can more or less clap your hands as well if you want to – controllers limit that a bit – or you can do any movement you like. Since controllers have their own cameras, you can use them even behind your back if you want to.
Expressing yourself and passing the presence to others in the Metaverse space is a big thing with this headset. Which apps will support this is a good question, but using those applications already today can show you the experience how it can be. Some people don’t like this feature, and it can be turned off, but I think tracking eyes and facial expressions will help to create better connection with others, making the meeting, workshop or event in the metaverse even better one. Apps don’t have to have simulated eye contact or mouth movements, instead they can imitate your real expressions.
For me, this is about the Presence. It is about making the connection and helping to work together in the same space even when we would be in other countries.
I am still collecting experiences how this will be used and what kind of impact it will have, so expect more blog posts about this topic.
Enter the Metaverse
We have the tech, now the burden goes to the apps. Without apps taking advantage of the tech we can’t really use these great features as well as we could. You can create your own apps supporting Meta Quest Pro features using the updates to Presence Platform but for most of us we do need apps that we can use. Apps that work and support your needs, because without good apps people won’t be adopting the Metaverse and virtual meeting spaces.
I am very happy that Mesh for Teams was announced for Meta Quest devices during Meta Connect 2022, but I guess (suspect) when it comes out it won’t take advantage of all these great features Meta Quest Pro offers: like eye and facial expression tracking being the most important, but also using Mesh in Mixed Reality. Using Mesh with facial expressions tracking would be a big enabler for the hybrid work (and for the Metaverse) , so I hope Microsoft is working on adding that sooner than later. Of course the hard fact is that there won’t be many Meta Quest Pro devices in use compared to Quest 2 or other VR headsets. I hope the partnership between Microsoft and Meta extends to that they will enable Quest Pro to be the showcase for Mesh and immersive meetings, workshops and events by adding to facial expressions and eye tracking haptic Pro controllers and using them smartly to make the immersive meeting and working on the whiteboard to feel more real.
What Mesh for Teams will enable with Commercial Metaverse is the secure, governed and compliant use of the Metaverse. Many organizations will not be using just any available app enabling them to meet in the VR / MR, but they also expect high standards for making sure their information stays protected. Other aspect what Mesh for Teams will enable with the Metaverse is the ease of joining and using the space. Currently if you want to meet in the Metaverse you need to think about the app what to use, is it secure enough and what features it will allow people to use. How people can join the meeting and how you can work together. Thinking larger organizations it may be something that is easily limited to certain use cases or certain teams, who will be very likely using VR devices (Quest 2 or Pro most likely) to participate.
There are great experiences in consumer side you can join already and use Meta Quest Pro (or Quest 2). For example Spatial is something that looks really good, but it is not really meant for workshops. Immersive, Horizon Workrooms and others are also available – but each of them do have limits to some level. But the good thing is – with experimenting you can already take advantage of this new tech Quest Pro provides. For example ShapesXR could be on tool you use already – and it has the support for facial expressions as well. But it would not be the tool for a townhall meeting – or ideation meeting. But it is a tool for designing something together.
For me, with Meta Quest Pro it is easier than before to enter the Metaverse and experimenting with various apps to discover & collect new experiences, insights and learn how the Metaverse is shaping the Future of Work. Personally I am also trying to find an easy way how to use immersive space for presenting a session or content to large audience – something we do often today via Microsoft Teams or other tools in 2D. I also like that the headset is not fully immersive, but has light gaps around it so I can be more aware of my surroundings (reaching out for the mouse, for example) without having to take it off. Yes, you can add either light blockers that came with the package or buy ones that enclose you fully into the VR.
Or I can use the passthrough feature to walk around or see what’s around me. Of course I hope Meta can improve the passthrough at least a notch or two with software updates, and I do hope they have some sensors capabilities in the headset that they didn’t have time to have full SDK/app compatibility during launch day and they could activate more features with updates.
Taking presenting a session to third dimension and (hopefully) being able to use Meta Quest Pro tech fully would be an interesting experiment.
I will follow up with other posts about Meta Quest Pro and especially on relevant Metaverse / VR apps that make a good use case for collaboration and the Future of Work.
What is your favorite Metaverse / VR collaboration application? Which one you would be using for community event or when presenting a townhall session? What benefits you get with that compared to video meeting?