In Meta’s recent Connect Conference, Mark Zuckerberg released a video in which he teased an unannounced high-end virtual reality headset, Project Cambria. The company’s latest released virtual reality headset, Oculus Quest 2, was a huge success, comprising almost 80% of VR headsets sold in 2021. And the Project Cambria is expected to carry over all the great aspects of Quest 2 and take all things up to a new level.
This new headset is said to incorporate promising features like eye-tracking, facial recognition, and full-color passthrough to create a more realistic and enjoyable experience. With eye-tracking and facial recognition, the headset can detect users’ eye movement and facial expressions and reflect them in the avatars, the digital representation of users in virtual worlds, to create a more natural interaction experience and build a presence. At the same time, the full-color passthrough enables users to see through the real world around them in full color while wearing the headset instead of monochrome style, which could facilitate a seamless combination of online and physical experience. For example, users could write notes without taking off the headset or follow a virtual tutor to work out, as shown in the video. The company hopes that these features would help users work, communicate and collaborate more effectively in the metaverse, and replace the laptop.
Though the vision of replacing the laptop sounds promising, it is currently a bit ambitious based on current technology and features. Janko Roettgers, who also tried the demo, said that the video quality produced by Project Cambria is more like a “decent quality home video” instead of a photorealistic one. And the quality of the demo video is also criticized for being a “choppy mess.” Apart from that, other limitations make it hard for consumers to use it in the working place. For example, current VR headsets have short battery life, and it is troublesome to repeatedly charge while using them. On the other hand, the standalone VR headsets integrate a battery module, which adds to the weight and is uncomfortable to wear for a long time. In addition, though some tools like Mural, Spike, and Monday.com are already accessible in the Quest 2, it is hard to imagine a way to create spreadsheets or process images in a VR headset that could be more efficient.
In a word, replacing the laptop with a VR headset sounds promising, but there is still a long way to go, and maybe it is just unnecessary to move all work to virtual reality.