Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook virtual reality lead and soon-to-be CTO Andrew Bosworth (or “Boz”) are playing around with prototype VR (or AR) tech and want to show it off. Both executives have posted pictures of themselves wearing prototype headsets and linking the concepts to Facebook’s work on the metaverse. While the headsets the two are wearing are in no way guaranteed to become actual retail products, it’s an interesting look at what’s going on in Facebook’s virtual reality lab.
The headset Zuckerberg is wearing looks similar to the company’s Oculus headsets. However, he identifies it as “retina resolution,” borrowing Apple’s phrase for screens with such high pixel density that you can’t discern individual points at a normal operating distance. The headsets Boz shows off have more intriguing designs — one looks, to be frank, almost exactly like drawings and descriptions of Apple’s rumored VR headset. The other one looks like it either has a very large strap or a cap that holds it onto his head, along with a wire sticking out of the contraption.
Proud of the research Michael Abrash's team is working on at FRL-R Redmond—excited to get an early look at some of the technologies that will underpin the metaverse (we work on several prototype headsets to prove out concepts, this is one of them. Kind of. It's a long story.) pic.twitter.com/Yi9xjy5HmG— Boz (@boztank) October 13, 2021
Beyond Zuckerberg’s vague “retina” comment, there are basically no details on what kind of headsets they are, what they’re capable of, or even if they’re just nonfunctional design mock-ups.
That’s perhaps to be expected, given that this isn’t a product announcement from Facebook. While the company has released a pair of smart (and screen-less) Ray Bans, which it called a step in the path “towards full augmented reality glasses,” Facebook’s virtual reality lab also teases many prototypes that probably won’t make it to market. That includes things like its horrifying eye-projection headset, the research-focused Aria AR glasses, and a proof-of-concept set of VR glasses (which show you a virtual world instead of augmenting the real one). Rather than hawking headsets, Boz and Zuckerberg seem to be selling their metaverse concept, which the company says is a virtual world that could be the next version of the internet. If you want to do a deep-dive into what that means exactly, check out my colleagues’ great explainer.
Speaking of experimental headsets, HTC was getting ready to announce its Vive Flow headset, and one of its executives hilariously replied to Boz to ask if he’d be willing to trade the prototype headset for one hot off the factory line. Boz declined the offer.
no deal— Boz (@boztank) October 13, 2021
Update October 14th, 7:50PM ET: Added a second prototype post from Boz, and updated with information about the HTC Vive Flow.