Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta has poured over $10 billion into metaverse research this year alone. How much is he investing and how does it help him build virtual worlds.
He gave some clues about last week Joe Rogan ExperienceAccording to some statistics, it is the most-listened-to podcast worldwide. The episode, which sprawled almost three hours, made headlines for Zuckerberg’s comments about his hellish morning routine and Hunter Biden’s laptop. However, the interview gave insight into his method of building his metaverse empire.
These are the main takeaways.
In October, a new VR headset is expected to be available.
Meta’s newest virtual reality headset, a successor to the Meta Quest 2, will arrive in October, Zuckerberg announced. It will be the company’s first major VR launch since the name change from Facebook to Meta last fall.
Zuckerberg says that one of his main priorities for the headset was to make the user “feel like you’re right there with another person.” The company has added increased facial tracking—so that your avatar might be able to smile or frown when you do.
“There’s more nonverbal communication when people are with each other than verbal communication,” Zuckerberg told Rogan. “When you’re on a video call you don’t actually feel like you’re there with the person. To me, what virtual reality unlocks is that it really convinces your brain that you’re there.”
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Zuckerberg hopes that the metaverse will eventually be everywhere.
Zuckerberg says Meta’s new VR headset is just one stop on a “long roadmap” towards a future not dominated by insular headsets but augmented reality (AR) glasses. Zuckerberg claims that the goal is to reduce headsets to size comparable to normal glasses and allow people to use augmented reality (or digital overlays) to interact with the real world. Instead of looking at a phone screen for map directions, for instance, your smart glasses will simply draw a line toward the route you’re supposed to take.
“The physical world is important to our being and essence and soul,” Zuckerberg said.
However, actual AR consumer products remain a long way off. Zuckerberg predicts that the first products will arrive in three to five years, and will “start off pretty expensive. It’ll take a while to get down to hundreds of dollars,” he said.
Zuckerberg predicts that AR technology will be available when it arrives. Star WarsThe norm will be holograms of the “old-fashioned” variety. He predicts that many people, instead of moving to big cities, will instead “teleport in the morning to the office and show up as a hologram.” That future, Zuckerberg says, will be “pretty sweet” and “unlock a lot of economic opportunity for a lot of people.”
Rogan also dreamed of virtual poker night, where some people sit around a table and others are beam in and all play with holograms.
Privacy is a serious concern.
Meta will be able to access a frightening amount of data and footage in an AR-dominated future. Any public action you take could potentially come under surveillance. When Rogan asked if AR glasses would allow a “creep” to record people without their consent, Zuckerberg admitted it would be possible “in theory.” (He defended the product by saying that whenever a user hits “record,” a bright red light goes on.)
Zuckerberg understands that avatars are a problem.
In mid-August, Zuckerberg posted a selfie of his digital avatar inside Facebook’s metaverse platform Horizon Worlds. It was widely mocked for being low-quality or even “soulless.”
Zuckerberg conceded to Rogan that Meta’s avatars are “obviously not super realistic yet.” He said that while they will improve in quality over time, his aim is not to build a metaverse that looks exactly like the real world. “I’m not actually convinced that when we have photo-realistic avatars, people are going to prefer that to the expressive ones,” he said.
His near-future goal is for VR to “eat TV.”
Metaverse growth could be at the cost of the television industry if Zuckerberg has his way. According to Zuckerberg, eventually people can view movies and TV shows on their smart glasses instead of on a large screen.
Zuckerberg has also criticised the dominant culture of TV and said that he hopes viewers will spend more time in virtual reality than watching television.
“I want to make it so the experiences we’re having aren’t just these passive things,” he said, arguing that people will build more relationships while socializing in VR as opposed to watching television. “That actually may be a net improvement in well-being for people overall. And there’s just a ton of TV time to eat.”
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