Virtual or augmented reality, the other battle of the metaverse

It is announced as the next big battle after the mobile one. Connected glasses and virtual reality masks must bring metaverse to life, as much as smartphones do with social networks and, before them, PCs with web portals. Until now, the doors of these immersive worlds are revealed mainly on computer screens, and are disappointing. But the tech giants are hard at work fulfilling the promises of SF.

In this new conquest, the Gafam are playing big. In the case of Meta, the old Facebook is going all out. It is the first to have taken the lead in the industry by buying the nugget of virtual reality (VR) Oculus, in 2014, for $3 billion.

Zuckerberg’s winning bet

Eight years later, the metaverse and VR have yet to break through, but Mark Zuckerberg’s group is in the best position. At the software level, he is credited with having launched the sector in renaming himself Meta in October 2021. “We had never seen an industry leader operate such a strategic reorientation, with concrete actions beyond rebranding: 10,000 recruitments and 10 billion dollars of investment”, notes the transformation consultant digital Frédéric Cavazza.

In terms of hardware, the Menlo Park firm has above all created a precedent with its Meta Quest 2 in 2020. “It’s the only credible virtual reality headset, because it’s one of the cheapest (350 euros), it’s one of the most efficient but also, it’s easily configurable”, continues the expert. HTC , a historical competitor, does not sell anything under 500 euros. the Valve Index , another serious rival that costs double, is limited to the gamer market… and is nowhere to be found. On the entry level, the Sony’s PSVR linked to the PlayStation, suffers from its poor graphic quality, while waiting for version 2 for Christmas 2022.

As a result, Meta has steadily increased its lead over time, going so far as to control 80% of the VR market by the end of 2021, according to Counterpoint, thanks to sales doubling in one year, to 11 million units. The American is ahead of the Chinese DPVR and Pico (subsidiary of ByteDance, parent company of TikTok). A good advance yes, but who consumes a lot of cash : 13 billion dollars in just thirteen months, and shareholders to convince that the metaverse is worth it.

The best of both worlds ?

In the opposite camp, the Arlesian of the Apple mask picked up steam in May with the presentation of the prototype mixed reality headset (combining virtual and augmented reality) to the board of directors, according to Bloomberg. Rumor has it in the premium segment, at over $2,000; enough to check if the Apple magic is still working. This helmet would stand out with fifteen cameras, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, to replicate the external environment and simulate a fake augmented reality.

Switching, with the same pair of glasses, between total virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) is one of the challenges of the moment. Meta gave a glimpse of it with its next helmet – this time high-end – Cambria. Microsoft, with its HoloLens has been working there for five years, but the outlets for his “industrial metaverse” remain confined to B2B.

Technology ceiling

Google prefers to bet on augmented reality alone, as its CEO Sundar Pichai recently explained to “Echos”: “Our efforts are more focused on the real world and how to increase it when people need it. Since the failure of Google Glass ten years ago, the firm has been cautious. A speech similar to that of Evan Spiegel, the boss of Snap, who is on the fourth version of his augmented reality glasses . A niche that Meta has been trying since 2021 with its Ray-Ban Stories limited to video capture.

There is a common denominator to all these metaverse aspirants, whether in VR or AR. All come up against a technological glass ceiling, overly heavy helmets that make you sweat and give headaches or inelegant glasses. “They remain dependent on advances in flexible screens”, points out Frédéric Cavazza. The connected lenses as explored by the start-up Mojo, are still a long way off. To make matters worse, the sector is experiencing component shortages .

VIDEO. From Harvard to the metaverse: how Facebook reinvented itself?

We wish to give thanks to the writer of this article for this outstanding content

Virtual or augmented reality, the other battle of the metaverse

You can view our social media pages here and additional related pages here.