Meta and Apple are preparing to compete in the field of metaverse and augmented reality. Unfortunately for Meta, its competitor is already one step ahead. Explanations.
Led by Mark Zuckerberg, Meta has injected billions of dollars into the development of the technologies that underpin the metaverse: virtual reality and augmented reality. In the span of two years, the company has spent more than $21 billion funding its Reality Labs division. Thanks to these colossal investments, the social networking giant has launched several virtual reality headsets, such as the Quest 2and a hybrid helmet, the Quest Pro. For now, Meta holds no less than 90% of the market for virtual reality headsetsoverwhelming the competition.
In the race to the metaverse, Meta will come up against a strong competitor : Apple. As of next year, the Cupertino giant should indeed announce its first mixed reality headset, which combines augmented and virtual reality. Thanks to this accessory, the contours of which are still unknown, Apple is preparing to make a sensational entry into the VR market.
Apple’s advantage in the field of augmented reality
In a second step, Apple plans to launch on AR glasses market with Apple Glass. The company believes that augmented reality has a better future than virtual reality. This future accessory is very similar to a pair of traditional glasses.
According to Mark Zuckerberg, Apple is Meta’s big rival in the field of the metaverse. Unfortunately for Meta, its future competitor hasan asset to democratize augmented reality : the iPhone, the smartphone that accounts for more than 20% of phones sold worldwide.
According to the latest rumors, Apple’s first connected glasses will have to be paired with the iPhone to work, like an Apple Watch. This pairing allows the accessory to rely on computing power considerable of the iPhone. De facto, Apple must not include excessively powerful components in the accessory, which makes it possible to reduce its size and refine the design. True to form, the brand will pay a lot of attention to the aesthetics of the device.
Meta’s Great Challenge
Unlike its illustrious rival, Meta does not design a smartphone. As our colleagues from The Information report, Meta should therefore face an obstacle when designing his glasses for augmented reality. To work, the first version of Meta’s glasses should imperatively be connected to a terminal… at least until AR technology evolves and becomes miniaturized.
The Californian company has already encountered a similar problem during the development of Ray-Ban Stories, the glasses capable of taking pictures. Meta engineers wanted the photos and footage captured by the glasses to be automatically uploaded to iPhone gallery of the user. However, iOS limitations prevented Meta from following through on its ambitions.
To load the photos, you must open the companion iOS application, Facebook View. The photos, first stored on the memory of the glasses, are then transferred to the smartphone. Leading up to launch, Meta engineers spent months trying to improve the synergy between the iPhone and the glasses. In vain.
The same problem should arise when making AR glasses. The accessory must be connected to a device with high computing power to display items in virtual reality, such as a mobile phone. Once connected, they would be able to display the notifications received in augmented reality, such as SMS or notifications.
Designed in partnership with Ray-Ban, AR glasses should be distinguished by their lightness, finesse and discretion. Unsurprisingly, Meta wants at all costs to avoid the pitfall of Google Glass, Google’s defunct AR glasses. Too conspicuous, the glasses did not convince the general public.
The solutions envisaged by Meta
According to The Information, Meta considered accompanying the glasses witha housing, visually similar to a telephone, to overcome the iPhone or Android smartphones. This approach forces the user to travel with an additional device, in addition to the essential smartphone, in their pockets. Meta would have abandoned this idea, which was difficult to convey to users.
The company has also embarked on the manufacture of a connected watch dedicated to the metaverse. The accessory had to allowinteract with elements displayed in augmented reality. Intended to compete with the Apple Watch, the watch had to carry sensors capable of interpreting electrical signals by the human body. Once decoded, these signals were translated into digital commands by the bracelet.
Unfortunately, development was halted a few months ago. Three prototypes of the smartwatch have been developed, without meeting the support of officials. Following disastrous financial results, Meta was forced tocancel a series of projects deemed too costly, including his connected watch. In the aftermath, the group has also drawn a line under the Portal speakers.
Back to the wall, Meta will have to make sure his first AR glasses work with the iPhone. The Menlo Park firm will again have to adapt to Apple’s software limitations. Last I heard, Meta is planning to launch its first glasses for augmented reality from 2024. In the event of a delay, the project could be postponed to 2026. Without a smartphone of its own, will Mark Zuckerberg’s group be able to convince in the emerging market of AR glasses?
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Augmented reality: why Meta is already behind Apple
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