Meta’s $1500 Quest Pro VR Headset Shows The Promise Of The Metaverse Is Still Far Off

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Meta’s $1500 Quest Pro VR Headset Shows The Promise Of The Metaverse Is Still Far Off

The VR headset of the future is here in Meta’s Quest Pro;, and though it’s admittedly awesome (as far as VR headsets are concerned), it’s also clearly a stepping stone to whatever’s next—and clear proof we still have a long way to go before we get there.

Tech giants like Meta and Apple have spent the past few years pumping billions into R&D to develop virtual and augmented reality tech aimed at establishing a beachhead in the nascent, hard-to-explain metaverse we’ve been repeatedly told is the future of the internet.

Meta, through its acquisition of VR darling Oculus, has proven to be one of the first major players in the market—and the company just took its biggest swing yet in putting together the wearable tech we’ll need to work and play in the metaverse. Oculus helped establish the VR market with its early headsets, which cost in the $300-$750 range, depending on specs. The Oculus Quest 2 has been the biggest breakout hit, selling millions of headsets at a more affordable price point in the $399-499 range.

But now, Meta is looking to up its game with a flagship headset being positioned as the company’s centerpiece of its metaverse strategy, with the hardware to do the stuff they really want to do. The metaverse is supposed to be the place where we have meetings, work, hang out and play games—and Meta believes the Quest Pro will be the first device to take the first step toward getting us there in a real way. It costs a whopping $1,500 and goes on sale in late October.

It’s also loaded with cutting-edge tech, hence the high-end price point. The device runs off Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2+ platform, comes loaded with 12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and 10 high-res sensors. The headset has also been redesigned for better ergonomics (and general coolness), with a sleek black design and new eye tracking and sensor tech designed to better capture natural facial expressions.

In execution, that means the Quest Pro is equipped to handle mixed-reality use cases (i.e. projected screens in the “real” world, mixing virtual elements like screens and design elements. The facial tracking is also designed to make virtual avatars more natural, tracking facial expressions and head movement to add a bit of life to those lifeless (and often leg-less) cartoony avatars to make interactions less stilted and awkward.

Meta is leveraging the Quest Pro as a corporate and enterprise tool, designed for collaboration in virtual meetings, or manipulating 3D designs with virtual toolsets that are surely in the works. But as The Verge; notes, early demos for the Quest Pro also show its limitations. The headset is seemingly more comfortable than other virtual headsets, but it’s still relatively heavy (as all headsets are, since they must pack in so much tech) and would likely weigh on a user after a few hours (or God forbid, an eight-hour workday). There are also some major battery life limitations, with the rig reportedly needing a charge after around two hours of use. If this is something meant for extended daily use, that’s a problem.

But despite the limitations, it’s still a cutting-edge piece of tech that does get us a step closer to the virtual world we’ve been promised by everything from Ready Player One to The Lawnmower Man. It can do a lot of the things we imagine when we think of virtual reality (at least as far as software has taken us at this point), but it’s also a reminder that we’re not there yet.

There is little doubt we’ll eventually reach a point where we’re interacting, working and playing in some form of a virtual or mixed-reality world. It’s just too cool to not happen, eventually. But the tech is just not there, nor is it easy and accessible enough. If the goal is to reach a saturation point where a critical mass is jacking in (to borrow a term from The Matrix), it’ll take something less chunky and less expensive than the Quest Pro.

There’s a reason science fiction often describes and portrays virtual reality headsets as little more than a large pair of sunglasses because that is a concept people can relate to, and it’s likely the level of miniaturization and ease of use we’ll need to reach before virtual reality and the metaverse is truly ubiquitous. It’s no different than muddling through the Palm Pilot, Blackberry, and Motorola RAZR to work our way up to the iPhone and a world where the mobile internet is the dominant way we access the web. It’s a process, but we must take the journey to get there.

Tech like the Quest Pro is an important step on the journey to get us to the next phase of the internet of the future with the metaverse, but that future is not here yet. But if the Quest Pro is any indication of what it’ll be like, you can certainly see the potential. You’ll just have to charge it every hour or two and risk a crick in your neck to get a peek at what the future looks like right now.

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