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Meta Showcases Way forward for VR With 3 New Prototypes

Now and again Meta hosts an “Contained in the Lab” roundtable the place it showcases early expertise it’s at present engaged on, often on a really particular analysis subject. At the moment’s was Contained in the Lab: Passing the Visible Turing Take a look at specializing in an important a part of a digital actuality (VR) headset’s {hardware}, the show. Attempting to deal with a spread of challenges, CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Scientist of Actuality Labs, Michael Abrash and several other others unveiled three prototype headsets at present being developed.

Meta – Butterscotch Prototype. Picture credit score: Meta

Prototyping very often depends on attempting to resolve a singular drawback, be that decision, weight, measurement, sturdiness, readability or any variety of different points. While the Meta Quest 2 does supply a very good VR expertise, it’s under no circumstances excellent, with areas that may all the time be improved upon.


Guaranteeing a consumer’s eye sees the most effective picture potential is of utmost significance and Meta is attempting to resolve that in a variety of methods. The primary VR prototype proven was Butterscotch, trying like a closely modded Oculus Rift.

This was constructed to deal with VR decision, extra particularly offering retinal decision in VR. With 60 pixels per diploma (ppd) being the benchmark – one which TVs and cellphones have lengthy surpassed – in order that the headset can depict the 20/20 line on an eye fixed chart. “That is the most recent of our retinal decision prototypes, and it will get us to close retinal decision in VR — 55 pixels per diploma. And that’s two and a half instances the decision of Quest 2,” says Abrash on Butterscotch.

Whilst you would possibly anticipate this to have been achieved through a brand new panel this wasn’t the case as a result of: “there are at present no show panels that assist something near retinal decision for the total subject of view of VR headsets immediately,” Abrash continues. “So what the Butterscotch workforce did was they shrank the sector of view to about half that of a Quest 2 and developed a brand new hybrid lens that might totally resolve the upper decision.”

Meta Reality Labs Eye Chart Comparison
Meta Actuality Labs Eye Chart Comparability. Picture credit score: Meta

As you may see from the above photos, Butterscotch does obtain wonderful readability nevertheless it’s nonetheless a cumbersome, removed from a completed prototype.


Even larger and bulkier than Butterscotch is Starburst. With followers on the highest and a pair of facet handles, Starburst is Actuality Labs’ prototype HDR VR headset. Sure, you learn that proper, that is what Excessive Dynamic Vary in a VR headset at present seems like.

HDR might be a vital addition because it helps to extend that sense of realism and depth to a picture. To do that VR headsets want a number of mild to play with, with brightness known as nits. Meta’s peak brightness aim is 10,000 nits however as TVs have but to attain this quantity – Samsung’s 65Q9 vary can hit 2,000 nits in HDR – that aim remains to be a manner off. With regards to present VR ranges the Quest 2 maxes out at 100 nits.

Meta Starburst Research Prototype
Meta – Starburst Analysis Prototype. Picture credit score: Meta

Packed into the Starburst prototype is a brilliant lamp behind the LCD panels. This helps Starburst attain a powerful 20,000 nits, creating what is probably going one of many first 3D HDR VR shows. You in all probability wouldn’t need to use it for lengthy although: “to be clear, [Starburst is] wildly impractical on this first technology for something that you simply’d truly ship in a product. However we’re utilizing it to check and for additional research so we are able to get a way of what the expertise seems like,” says Zuckerberg.

Holocake 2

Because the final two headset prototypes look a few years away how about one thing which seems barely extra production-ready. Described by Zuckerberg as: “the thinnest and lightest VR headset that we’ve ever constructed,” the Holocake 2 definitely seems the a part of a futuristic machine and it’s already able to operating PC VR video games!

That may be spectacular in a prototype headset however what’s much more exceptional is Holocake 2’s skinny profile. VR headsets are thick as a result of the shows and lenses should be a sure distance aside in order that your eyes can correctly give attention to the imagery. To attain this slim design Meta has developed two new applied sciences; a flat holographic lens and polarized reflection.

Meta - Holocake 2 Research Prototype
Meta – Holocake 2 Analysis Prototype. Picture credit score: Meta

With regards to the holographic lens Zuckerberg explains: “Holographs are mainly recordings of what occurs when mild hits one thing. So identical to a holograph is way flatter than the factor itself, holographic optics are a lot flatter than the lenses that they mannequin, however they have an effect on incoming mild in just about the identical manner. So it’s a reasonably neat hack.”

As for the polarized reflection, this methodology of optical folding reduces the house between the show panel and the lens. Each of those applied sciences have been mixed with specialised lasers reasonably than LEDs as the sunshine supply. There’s just one drawback, discovering a laser with the performant measurement and value that you simply want for shopper VR headsets. “We’ll must do plenty of engineering to attain a shopper viable laser that meets our specs — that’s secure, low-cost, and environment friendly and that may slot in a slim VR headset,” Abrash notes. “As of immediately, the jury remains to be out on discovering an appropriate laser supply.”

Meta Reality Labs Lens Comparison
Meta Actuality Labs Lens Comparability. Picture credit score: Meta

If any of those prototypes look acquainted its as a result of Butterscotch and Holocake have been teased by Zuckerberg and CTO Andrew “Boz” Bosworth in 2021. No signal of the Meta Quest prototype beforehand talked about.

Mirror Lake

Lastly, there’s Mirror Lake. This isn’t even a prototype at this stage merely a analysis idea the Show Techniques Analysis (DSR) workforce at Actuality Labs rustled up. That is pie-in-the-sky considering, developing with a ski goggle-like kind issue combining all of the varifocal (Half-Dome) and eye-tracking and different tech Actuality Labs has been engaged on.

Meta - Mirror Lake concept
Meta – Mirror Lake idea. Picture credit score: Meta

And there you’ve got it, all of the prototype VR headsets Meta has at present revealed and the challenges it’s attempting to resolve. Whereas Holocake 2 may be on the close to horizon the subsequent headset from Meta is Venture Cambria, anticipated to reach later this 12 months. For continued updates on the most recent Meta VR gadgets, maintain studying gmw3.

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