Meta Connect Holds an Expected Quest 3 Reveal, with a Healthy Dose of AI

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By Eric Abbruzzese | 4Q 2023 | IN-7096

The Meta Connect conference recently took place, with a handful of announcements around Extended Reality (XR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Meta’s social media platforms. The official reveal and specifications of the Quest 3 was the standout Virtual Reality (VR) announcement, although the refreshed Ray-Ban glasses and a host of AI applications and features were also present.

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New Connect, New Quest


At the company’s most recent Connect event, Meta unveiled two notable Extended Reality (XR) devices and some value-added content through Artificial Intelligence (AI). The Meta Quest 3 is the latest VR headset from the company, succeeding the Quest 2 and Quest Pro headsets. New Ray-Ban smart glasses were also shown. Seemingly in a bid not to be outpaced in the AI department that many of its competitors have been focusing on, Meta showcased AI features in the form of an AI assistant across the Quest 3 and the broader Meta ecosystem, as well as some AI content creation and development toolsets.

A Worthy Successor, with Big Shoes to Fill


Perhaps the star of the show, the Quest 3 was officially revealed. Launching October 10, Quest 3 improves on every element of the Quest 2, with three main component improvements:

  • Higher display resolution and larger Field of View (FOV)
  • Full color passthrough at higher resolution
  • Updated Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chipset

The Snapdragon XR2 comes with expected power and efficiency improvements: 2.5X Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) performance, 8X AI performance, 50% more efficient, and support for Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7. The resolution and FOV bumps are welcome, although not groundbreaking. Passthrough is the VR buzzword at the moment, so Quest 3’s improvements here were expected (more on this in the next section).

The Quest 2 was the highest selling VR headset of all time, and for good reason. It was an excellent blend of price and performance, with a nice variety of content and applications throughout its lifecycle. The Quest Pro was a different beast, with a higher enterprise-eying price tag and an early glimpse at VR passthrough capabilities. Quest 3, leveraging that VR passthrough, improving it, and expanding the content ecosystem from Quest 2, should be a guarantee of success. It’s also helped by a lack of competition—at least at the scale at which Meta operates.

Outside of pure hardware, Meta highlighted some AI applications for both Quest 3 and the broader Meta ecosystem. Most relevant to VR is the addition of the Meta AI assistant coming to the Quest 3. The usage shown is basic for now, with messaging and web search the focus. While not a killer feature, anything to reduce the challenges of VR as a digital input device should be welcome.

Finally, a refresh of the Ray-Ban smart glasses was announced. While ABI Research does not specifically track “smart frame” /devices like the Ray-Bans (Augmented Reality (AR) glasses require a display), it is still an interesting refresh and indicative of some broader AR trends in the market. The glasses use Qualcomm’s new AR1 chip, promising better image and audio capture, on-device AI, and connectivity, to name a few improvements versus earlier XR-focused chipsets.

Figuring Out the Future of XR


With the Ray-Ban smart glasses again forgoing a display, AR smart glasses still aren’t here in force. Small vendors are consistently improving displays, sensors, input, and content for smart glasses, but there has not been a complete package of hardware, software, and service from a large vendor yet. In the interim, passthrough-enabled VR headsets like the Quest 3 are filling in a gap. Some applications are as good or better than smart glasses on a VR headset with passthrough—such as immersive games. However, passthrough is only a stopgap, ill-suited to long-term usage or in safety-conscious applications. Even so, passthrough VR isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and will continue to serve as a bridge between VR and AR for the foreseeable future. Expect content to reflect that, with XR applications targeting passthrough either solely or as an alternative to smart glasses.

New AI features as part of XR solutions need to be thoroughly tested before rollout. User experience is so important in XR and prone to negative sentiment—one issue with content flow, input, comfort, etc., can have a significant negative impact on User Experience (UX). AI has been a talking point in the XR space for some time, especially in machine vision, as well as on the chipsets powering Head-Mounted Displays (HMDs), but direct user-accessible AI applications present a new avenue. VR can be overwhelming as it is, so adding AI features that distract, rather than add value will be a net negative for the UX.

Looking toward the future of XR and, more specifically, smart glasses, social media has been touted as a valuable use case. Meta is positioned perfectly to capitalize on this, should it actually be true. Despite efforts to bridge the company’s social capabilities with XR through platforms like Horizon Worlds, a true XR-specific social media experience for an existing social platform has not yet hit the market. Smart glasses do present a possible best case scenario for social media capture, sharing, and distribution, but given the absence of a display on the Ray-Ban glasses, it will be a while before the market sees a visually-enabled version. In the meantime, Meta is bringing Horizon Worlds to web browsers and a mobile app as part of an early access program—losing the immersion of VR for the ease of use and mass market accessibility. This could serve as another bridge between the existing social networks and true XR, allowing a user base to stay active, while the hardware continues to mature.

There are still valid questions around actual value for content like avatars and digital goods, which has exposed significant generational differences in opinion. Younger audiences are more open to these new use cases and content types, but even so, there will need to be some convincing as these solutions roll out, given there is a new device/input method alongside new experiences.



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