Meta’s Project Cambria VR Headset Will Try to Replace the Laptop

Can a virtual reality headset replace a laptop? Mark Zuckerberg seems to think so. 

On Wednesday, Meta’s CEO shared a few more details about the company’s next-generation VR headset, dubbed Project Cambria, which is slated to arrive later this year.  

During an earnings call, Zuckerberg said the headset “will be more focused on work use cases and eventually replacing your laptop or work setup.” The goal is certainly ambitious since current VR headsets can have a variety of limitations, including short battery life or a need to tether themselves to a PC. But during the earnings call, Zuckerberg shed some light on how he thinks Project Cambria can become a replacement for a laptop. 

“This premium device will have improved ergonomics and full color passthrough mixed reality to seamlessly blend virtual reality with the physical world,” he said. “We’re also building in eye tracking and face tracking so that your avatar can make eye contact and facial expressions, which dramatically improves your sense of presence.”

The “full color passthrough” promises to be a notable improvement. The current Meta Quest headsets also offer passthrough, which allows you to see your real-world surroundings while the device is still over your head. This is done by leveraging the exterior cameras on the headset to feed you video. But on the downside, the images will appear in black and white and can come off as grainy or warped. 

Meta’s Project Cambria seems poised to fix this problem. The VR headset should also make video calls and VR sessions with co-workers even more immersive. But how the product will address other tasks primarily done on work laptops, such as word processing or spreadsheet creation, remains to be seen.

It’s also important to note Project Cambria is being designed for work purposes, rather than gaming. The next-gen VR headset is going to have a high price too; expect it to cost significantly more than the $299 Meta Quest 2 headset. 

The company is developing Project Cambria as Zuckerberg is betting big on his metaverse concept, which basically seeks to replace the current internet with a sprawling VR world. The company’s current foray into building a metaverse involves Horizon Worlds, a virtual reality social platform, where you can meet and play games with friends. 

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Horizon Worlds currently requires a VR headset. But surprisingly, Meta is working on a web-based version of the social platform, which will let users access it without a VR headset.

“We plan to launch a web version of Horizon later this year that will make it easy for people to step into metaverse experiences from a lot more platforms,” Zuckerberg said.

For the best experience, Horizon Worlds users should still enter the VR experience with a headset, he said. “But making this available everywhere will mean you can interact with anyone on whatever device or platform that they want to use,” Zuckerberg added.

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