Sina science and technology news Beijing time May 29 morning news, it is reported that Bloomberg columnist Mark Gurman (Mark Gurman) last week began to trial the unreleased Quest 3 mixed reality headset. In his view, this is the biggest challenger to Apple's mixed reality headset, which is also yet to be released.
Mixed reality refers to a technology that combines augmented reality (AR) with virtual reality (VR). The announcement of Apple's mixed reality headset will undoubtedly be the biggest mixed reality news of the year. But Apple can't have the market to itself. Meta Platforms currently have a leadership position in the space, and they continue to upgrade their offerings.
As a result, the two tech giants are set for a battle in the first market that could resemble the battle between Apple and Google's Android in smartphones 15 years ago: the iPhone dominates the high-end, high-priced market and has a closed ecosystem; Android has a relatively low profile, but an open platform.
In the heady market, Apple will immediately capture the high end of the market with products that cost more than $2,000. However, Meta will continue to dominate the lower end of the market. Apple's entry into the virtual reality market will set the whole industry on fire, so Meta will benefit from it -- those consumers who are eager for this technology but cannot afford Apple's expensive products are likely to choose Meta's products.
The showdown will play out in the coming months: Apple plans to release its mixed reality headset on June 5, while Meta is preparing to launch its latest model in October. Although Apple's device is still unreleased, Gurman had the opportunity to test out the upcoming Meta Quest 3.
He was testing a prototype, hoping to get a feel for its threat to Apple in the process. The tests covered the interface, video delivery, software and game features.
The device, code-named Eureka for development, is much lighter and thinner than Quest 2, which will be released in 2020. It is attached to the user's head by a headset, which appears to have improved strength, and uses a fibrous material on the side instead of the plastic used on the Quest 2.
The front of the device has a new design, ditching the plain grey front and instead adding three vertical, pill-shaped sensor areas. The left and right "pills" each contain a color video transmission camera (so you can see the world around you) and a standard camera. This means that Quest 2 includes two color cameras, whereas Quest previously had only non-color cameras. The "pill" in the middle gives Quest a depth camera for the first time.
The front and lower sides of the headset contain tracking cameras on each side, while the bottom has a volume rocker and a scroll wheel to adjust pupil distance -- a significant upgrade from Quest 2, which required removing the headset and manually adjusting the virtual reality display inside the device to change pupil distance. The power button and USB-C port are still on the side.
Although the resolution is said to have improved slightly, the Quest 3's VR display is similar in sharpness to Quest 2's, according to Gurman's intuition. However, he sees two significant improvements: the mixed-reality video delivery mode and the device's accelerator capabilities.
Video delivery is at the heart of mixed reality. It uses an external camera to let the headshow wearer see live footage of the real world, which can create augmented reality effects without using a transparent lens. While Gurman believes the video delivery performance of the Quest 3 won't match that of Apple's product, which has about a dozen cameras, it is a significant improvement over the black-and-white performance of the Quest 2.
With dual RGB color cameras, video delivery on Quest 3 delivers more accurate colors and provides more lifelike renderings. Users can even use the phone while wearing the headset, something that is not possible for Quest 2 users.
According to Gurman's reviews, navigation, app startup and game speed are also significantly improved over Quest 2. That's because the new headset is powered by a second-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 chip.
While Meta has yet to find a "killer app" for the device, it does have a first-mover advantage over Apple in virtual reality gaming for several years. To make up for the shortfall, Apple has given headset users access to tens of thousands of iPad apps, and introduced tools that make it easy for developers to convert iOS and iPad OS apps into xrOS.
Compared to the current Quest 2, the new model uses both a left - and right-handed remote and gesture tracking for control. Unlike Apple's device and the high-end Quest Pro, the Quest 3 lacks face and eye tracking. That means it won't be equipped with eye-tracking fixpoint rendering, which allows the system to focus resources more precisely on where the user is looking.
The Quest 3 remote has been redesigned to resemble the Quest Pro. These components are designed to be grey, consistent with the hue of the head display, but without the large ring at the top. The Quest 3 remote doesn't come with a camera like the Quest Pro, so it's hard to determine where it is in the air and can be a bit of a distraction to the game. Meta hopes to fill this gap with other tracking methods.
The heads-up depth sensor provides support for the so-called ambient grid. This allows the device to automatically recognize the surrounding walls. For example, you can shoot objects on the wall while playing a game, or you can give your surroundings a digital skin. More importantly, users do not need to manually set the wall position as they do with cash products.
Meta hasn't set a price point yet, but the developers believe it will be higher than Quest 2's $400. There are also suggestions that Quest 2 could go on sale after a price cut. But since the first generation of Quest Pro wasn't a hit, the second generation of Quest Pro won't be available any time soon.
Overall, Gurman was impressed by Quest 3's focus on mixed reality features, much improved video delivery, faster performance and expanded content library. Let's say the device sells for about $500, about one-fifth the price of Apple's mixed reality headset, but more than one-fifth the appeal. As a result, Quest 3 is expected to generate significant buzz in the U.S. holiday season at the end of this year, and it could be an important candidate when consumers are looking to buy mixed reality products.
Responsible Editor: Zheng Zhuo