Apparently in an effort to keep the spotlight on during an increasingly hot month of VR messaging, Facebook teased a look at two new XR headset prototypes just a day after an apparent leak of HTC’s upcoming Vive Flow headset.
Update (October 14, 2021): Facebook shared another teasing glimpse of a VR headset prototype; we have included it further below.
Although Facebook is expected to make big XR announcements at its upcoming Facebook Connect conference later this month, it looks like the company couldn’t help but tease some of what it has been working on.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg today posted a picture of himself looking at what he called an “early retinal detachment prototype.”
‘Retinal resolution’ refers to a screen that has sufficient pixel density to meet or exceed the resolution of the human eye. With no apparent cameras on the outside of the headset, this particular prototype is probably a VR headset. However, Zuckerberg said he was checking out a number of “next-generation” XR projects from his company’s VR department, Facebook Reality Labs.
“I spent the day with the Facebook Reality Labs research team in Redmond to demonstrate our next generation virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence technology. This is a prototype of early retinal detachment. The future will be fantastic, ”he wrote.
Zuckerberg’s post was coordinated with another from Facebook’s VP for XR, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, who tweeted a picture on what he says is another prototype from the FRL Research team in Redmond. The device appears to be a compact XR headset that takes the form of goggles
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 underlie the metaverse (we are working on several prototype headsets to prove concepts, this is a of them. Kind of. It’s a long story.), “he wrote.
The wording suggests that the device is not in itself an upcoming product, but merely a prototype for “proving concepts”, though he also teases that there is a “long story” behind the headset without going into details.
While it may be something as simple as a non-functional ergonomic prototype, Facebook Reality Labs researcher Douglas Lanman seems to have confirmed that the headset is a display prototype in his own tweet. “I’m excited to see this preview of another headset prototype from the Display Systems Research team at FRL-R Redmond,” he wrote.
Update (October 14, 2021): Bosworth shared another photo of a prototype headset that looks like an original Quest attached to a Rift S headband and with some extra hardware around it, and what appears to be a rudimentary antenna protruding from the top.
He offered no details other than teasing: “So. Many. Prototypes. ”
It does not seem like a coincidence that the Facebook teasing happened today. Just yesterday, HTC’s own upcoming compact VR headset, Vive Flow, appears to have been leaked ahead of the company’s event on Thursday. With pre-orders for Vive Flow, reportedly starting on October 15, the unspoken mood of Zuckerberg & Bosworth’s post feels like ‘wait until you see what we’ve got up our sleeve’.
HTC probably got the message; company president of Vive China tweeted quickly back to Bosworth, “Hey Boz, great research project. Do you want to shop for a production quality that is warm outside our factory? 😎, ”insinuates that HTC is ahead of the game by already having its compact headset ready for production.
With all this new XR hardware on the way, it’s definitely going to be an exciting month. Facebook will definitely save its big messages on Facebook Connect later this month, and high-end headset maker Varjo has teased its own big message.