Last week, I spent several hours trying out Meta’s latest glasses, the Quest 3. They will be sent next month. The headset runs virtual reality games with a new twist: While shooting a blaster gun, snatching bats out of the air and controlling a robot, I could see the real world through built-in cameras.
That’s the meta – and its new rival, Apple’s recently unveiled $3,500 Vision Pro headset – call out “Mixed Reality” Or “Spatial Computing,” Interchangeable terms to describe computers that combine digital data with the physical world.
Companies say these immersive computers could eventually do just that They have become indispensable tools that change the way we live, For example, imagine reading a holographic recipe in the corner of your eye while cooking, or staring at furniture parts with digital assembly instructions.
But right now, the device is mainly used for playing games, and killer apps are yet to emerge.
Meta’s $500 Quest 3 headset will arrive in stores on October 10 (pre-orders begin Wednesday), featuring sharper graphics than its predecessor. quest 2, which costs $200 less. Its major new feature is a set of high-resolution, “pass-through” cameras to view the outside world in color. They’re a big improvement from the Quest 2’s weak camera system, which produced a muddy monochrome picture.
After a two-hour session of playing with the Quest 3, I removed the glasses and asked Meta employees the $10 billion question about mixed reality (this is the amount the company invests annually in VR technology): What does it mean? Is?
Meta’s answer on this is unclear. The ability to simultaneously interact with virtual and physical space will make it easier for people to feel connected to each other while wearing the glasses, the company said. This may ultimately be useful for collaborating on work tasks. what kind of work? A Meta spokesperson told me those apps are actively in development.
To market Quest 3, Meta highlighted mixed reality games. In First Encounters, a space game, I used a blaster gun to shoot at a virtual wall, removing pieces brick by brick to reveal the real world.
In Stranger Things VR, a game based on the popular Netflix series, I played the show’s antagonist with telepathic powers. I could see virtual cracks in the physical room around me; When I pointed to the cracks and extended my fingers out to open them, the bats flew out of the gap. I caught hold of them to crush them to death.
Bam! In, I could see other Quest 3 wearers in the room, while we controlled miniature robots that battled each other inside a virtual arena. Each player can see a virtual platform containing the field and adjust it to the level of the physical tabletop in front of them. The game was fun, but seeing others wearing geeky goggles move around with their motion controllers didn’t improve the game (although it certainly made me feel more self-conscious).
The experience of socializing with others while playing games reminded me of the LAN (local area network) parties of the 1990s, when gamers would take bulky computers to each other’s homes to play together. It was a type of social gathering that seems outdated now because the internet speed is so fast that we can play online games from the comfort of our homes.
Some mixed-reality app developers I later interviewed offered more clarity than Meta about the benefits of the technology. Nair is a start-up that is working on Mixed-reality app for office workers Brainstorming ideas on virtual white boards and sticky notes. Developers there said that being able to see the real world while tackling virtual tasks will make the experience of wearing a headset while working with colleagues in the office less jarring for professionals.
“When you’re completely turned off and someone taps your shoulder, it’s very uncomfortable,” said Sondre Kvam, founder of the Norway-based company. “But when you’re using mixed reality, you’re still a big part of the real world – you’re not surprised anymore.”
Peeking into the outside world can make VR gaming more comfortable. Tommy Palm, Chief Executive Officer resolution gameThat said, in mixed reality, gamers will likely feel more confident playing fast-paced games.
In their game Blaston, where players fire guns at each other in a virtual arena, people can crouch to avoid digital projectiles. Being able to see around you will help prevent collisions with objects like furniture in the room, he said.
Those examples of mixed reality seem solid. But after spending a few hours with the Quest 3, my impression is that external cameras won’t comfortably solve virtual reality’s most serious problems, which will keep it from becoming a mainstream hit.
Weighing almost a pound, the headset started to feel heavy on my head after about 15 minutes, causing neck strain. The graphics were bright and intense on the eyes. The bending, twisting and swinging of my arms eventually became tiring to me.
So the Quest 3 might be a fun toy to entertain house guests, but most gamers looking for a social experience will probably prefer the old-fashioned setup of sitting on their couch with a game controller.