On October 21, 2021, fans and marketers worldwide gathered for the eighth annual Facebook Connect conference. This one-day virtual event features the best and brightest on Facebook’s development team to share new advancements for the company and its expansion into augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) – or the Metaverse. Focused on deepening human connections, the Metaverse plans on introducing a new level of virtually immersive experiences. Read on to learn about the 10 major takeaways from the Facebook Connect Keynote speech.
Key Takeaways From the Facebook Connect Keynote
The vast majority of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Keynote address centered around unveiling the company’s new large-scale virtual reality project, Metaverse. While this very ambitious venture may not come to life for years, the hopes for Metaverse are to interconnect digital spaces for users that otherwise wouldn’t be feasible in the physical world, with an important characteristic being virtual social presence. Zuckerberg believes the future of the internet lies within the Metaverse, even suggesting it’ll be the successor to the mobile internet.
Facebook Rebrand to Meta
In the same vein of interconnectivity, Zuckerberg announced the rebranding of the publically traded parent company from Facebook to the more inclusive Meta. The purpose of this rebrand is to broaden the company’s vision so that it’s not likened to only one of its products but rather the full suite of offerings and future AR/VR universe.
Facebook’s Spark AR platform already offers users the ability to create AR effects, publish, and share them on their Facebook-owned social channels. In conjunction with this platform, Facebook is launching Horizon Marketplace as a space where creators can sell and share 3D digital products. The development of this space is intended to promote more eCommerce and diversify the metaverse economy.
Replacing the simple “Home” area on Quest is Horizon Home – a gathering space for users to virtually socialize. With this new addition, users will have the ability to invite friends and family to join them as avatars in the virtual space to do group activities such as watching movies or using apps together. Horizon Home will be the initial view users see when putting on their Oculus Quest headset. With Facebook’s rebrand, all things Oculus, including Oculus Quest, will be retired and replaced by Meta. Enter Meta Quest.
Quest 2 Active Pack
Come 2022, new exercise accessories for Quest 2 will be made available in the upcoming Active Pack. These new accessories include grips for Touch controllers and a fitness-optimized facial interface to protect the headset and improve cleaning after using the fitness apps.
Another virtual hardware release in 2022 is Project Cambria. This new product will be a high-end headset for mixed reality experiences. Notable features of this device will include eye-tracking, face tracking, and improved optics to make mixed reality even more immersive.
To allow developers to build more realistic mixed realities with natural interactions, Facebook announced the launch of the Presence Platform. The use of voice, hands and controllers will help to create natural interactions. Additionally, within blending virtual content with the physical world, the Presence Platform will include a suite of machine perception and AI capabilities, such as Passthrough, Spatial Anchors, and Scene Understanding.
In addition to the hardware device launches, Zuckerberg also announced the development of Project Nazare, Facebook’s first fully AR-capable consumer smart glasses. These would be the step beyond the co-branded Ray-Ban Stories glasses launched earlier in 2021; however, the release date for Project Nazare is still a few years away.
Continuing with the Meta rebrand, the Facebook Portal, the brand’s Alexa-integrated video smart calling system, will be renamed “Meta Portal” within the next few months.
Currently named Facebook Reality Labs, the company’s entire VR and AR division will be renamed Reality Labs.
The many new AR/VR offerings announced during the Facebook Connect Keynote will propel the industry forward and open a new chapter for the tech giant. In doing so, the company hopes the Meta rebrand will bring their overall brand, products, and services closer together under a single umbrella.
While some of the 10 major takeaways from the Facebook Connect Keynote may be forecasted to launch far into the future, it gives us a glimpse into how AR/VR will be an integral part of our lives as we continue to advance technologies.