As the idea of the metaverse and the concept of virtual reality (VR) continue to gain traction in the market, Meta is going all-in to develop the perfect VR headset for users. We recently saw Meta CEO Mark Zuckerburg demo the company’s upcoming shippable VR headset, Project Cambria. And now, Zuckerburg and the head of Meta’s Reality Labs department Michael Abrash have shown off several VR headset prototypes. Check them out right below.
Mark Zuckerburg along with Michael Abrash and his team of scientists at Reality Labs recently showcased a few distinct proofs of concept for VR headsets. These include devices codenamed Butterscotch, Holocake 2, Mirror Lake, and Starburst. Each of these prototypes is designed for testing one specific feature, such as an improved screen or a bright backlight.
Starting with Starburst, it is one of the most unique VR headsets and looks quite bulky. In fact, it has two handles to support a powerful lamp that can produce high dynamic range lighting with 20,000 nits of brightness. “This one is wildly impractical to consider as a product direction for the first generation, but we’re using it as a testbed for further research and studies. The goal of all this work is to help us identify which technical paths are going to allow us to make meaningful enough improvements that we can start approaching visual realism,” Zuckerburg said.
Next comes Butterscotch, a VR headset prototype that comes with a near-retina-quality headset display. Although the company had to halve the Meta Quest 2’s 110-degree FOV to develop the Butterscotch prototype, it offers up to 2.5 times the resolution for each eye as compared to the Quest 2. It also allows users to read the 20/20 vision line on an eye chart and offers 55 pixels per field-of-view degree. Although, it is nowhere in shippable condition as of now.
The Holocake 2 prototype, on the other hand, is more like an AR glass rather than a full-fledged VR headset. It uses a light-bending process, which leverages a thick, refractive lens. Although the device could be as thin as traditional glasses, Meta is working to integrate a self-contained light source, preferably a laser rather than OLEDs, that will fuel the Holocake 2 headset. “We’ll need to do a lot of engineering to achieve a consumer-viable laser that meets our specs: that’s safe, low-cost, and efficient, and that can fit a slim VR headset. Honestly, as of today, the jury is still out on a suitable laser source.”
Coming to the Mirror Lake prototype, it is essentially an aspirational concept that no other company has built yet. It looks very much like a ski-goggle and the device is slated to come with Holocake 2’s thin optics, Starburst’s HDR capabilities, and Butterscotch’s per-eye resolution. Overall, Meta wants the Mirror Lake VR headset as the ultimate model to showcase the company’s VR achievements.
Other than these, Meta and Reality Labs also mentioned its Half Dome prototype, which the company began working on in 2017 and unveiled at F8 2018 later on. Reality Labs is scheduled to discuss more of its research at the upcoming SIGGRAPH tradeshow.
Now, although the above prototypes exist as functioning hardware, they are not at all ready to ship to consumers. However, with Meta’s pace of developing and innovating VR technologies, it seems like the company will have an upper hand over other companies that are working to enter the VR/ MR sector like Apple. So, if you want to get more updates about Meta’s VR plans and its innovations, we suggest you stay tuned. Also, let us know your thoughts on Meta’s latest VR prototypes in the comments below.