The XR Week Peek (2023.10.02): Meta Quest 3 launched, Vive Ultimate Tracker leaked, and more!

Welcome to this new edition of the XR Week Peek, which this week will be a bit special because I will summarize here what happened during the Meta Connect, the event during which Mark Zuckerberg launched the Quest 3, the Ray-Ban Meta smartglasses, and new techniques for data harvest… cough cough I mean, new AI services. I was used to making a dedicated roundup for the Meta Connect every year, but this year it has been so disappointing that I don’t think it deserves its own article 😐
 But there won’t be only Meta: after the big intro about the Meta Connect, you will find other juicy info waiting for you.
 Before delving into the news, I just want to tell you that I feel great because an article of mine has been published on Variety, in its VIP+ section. It’s my first time in such an important magazine and I’m incredibly happy about it!

Top news of the week

(Image by Meta)

Meta launched Quest 3

The main piece of news of the week is of course the launch of the Meta Quest 3 at the Meta Connect. Honestly, the launch moment has been a bit underwhelming because Zuck decided to focus the keynote more on AI than on Quest 3, but for us in the VR field, this has been the most important moment.
 The headset didn’t come with many surprises and these have been the specifications:

  • Resolution (per-eye): 2064 x 2208
  • Display Type: LCD
  • Refresh Rate: 120Hz
  • Lens type: Pancake
  • Processor: Snapdragon XR2 Gen2
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Battery Life: 2–3 hours
  • Field of View: 110° horizontal, 96° vertical
  • IPD Adjust: hardware-based. Eye relief is also supported
  • Audio: integrated
  • Weight: 509g
  • Storage: 128GB or 512GB
  • Connectivity: USB, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
  • Tracking: inside-out
  • Depth sensor: available
  • Mixed Reality: full-RGB cameras for color 18 PPD passthrough

The preorders for the device are already open, with the 128 GB SKU costing $499 and the 512GB SKU $649. Shipping will start on October, 10th.
 Reading the reviews from the most important magazines, I’ve learned that the killer feature of this headset is the new XR2 Gen2 chipset. According to all reviewers, it is the new horsepower that is going to make this headset very interesting. XR2 Gen2 has 2.6x the GPU power of the previous model, and the comparison of the various games in their before vs. after versions is impressive. Finally with this chipset, games don’t appear just as flat colors anymore, but some real-time lighting becomes possible. This means that all games are going to look better, adding better lighting, better environments, and more enemies per single scene. Pair this with the new display and lenses, which are going to add visual clarity, and you obtain a great mix to give users a new and better experience.
 The great news for Meta is that since it is a strong partner with Qualcomm, it will have exclusively the chipset for around 6 months, so competitors that use the same system can only arrive in 2024.
 The new controller, the Touch Plus, seems also to track very well, and has the interesting feature that they have better tracking performances than Quest 2 ones around the torso of the player. To do that, they sacrifice the tracking quality when the hands are above the head of the user, a situation that is anyway quite rare. This is also because the cameras of the headset are mostly pointed towards the lower region… and for a good reason. In a future update, Meta will use the tracking cameras to track the full body of the user and provide a decent estimation of the pose of the torso, the elbows, and the arms, and a simulated pose for the legs. Yes, the Quest 3 will be able to provide some sort of very rough full-body tracking, which is great for social VR experiences.
 The last big feature is of course mixed reality: Zuckerberg defined the Quest 3 as the first consumer mixed reality headset. I’m a big fan of passthrough AR, and the fact that the reviewers highlighted how the quality of this passthrough is high, makes me excited. But honestly speaking, I think no one cares about it: consumers do not know what MR is and what its purpose is, and Meta showed no compelling use cases during the Connect. So I think that in the beginning, MR will be mostly useless for this device. And I’m not the only one thinking about it: the god John Carmack has expressed a similar opinion on X/Twitter, saying that in his opinion, Quest 3 should focus completely on the magic of VR, because there is no real use for passthrough AR at this moment, at least on the consumer side.

More info (The most important takeaways from Meta Connect 2023)
More info (Meta Quest 3 release date and price)
More info (Hands on Quest 3 — Road To VR)
More info (Hands on Quest 3 — Upload VR)
More info (Hands on Quest 3 — TESTED)
More info (Quest 3 specs)
More info (Quest 3 specs VS other headsets)
More info (Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2Gen2 and its power)
More info (Other headsets using XR2Gen2 are coming in 2024)
More info (Quest 3’s higher rendering resolution)
More info (Quest 3’s graphics upgrade)
More info (Quest 3 Touch Plus controllers)
More info (Quest 3 full body tracking)
More info (John Carmack on Mixed Reality)

Other relevant news

(Image by Lex Fridman)

Zuck’s interview as a Codec Avatar reignites interest in the metaverse

There is one thing that made a bigger impact than the whole Meta Connect and Meta’s ads: the interview that Mark Zuckerberg had with Lex Fridman in VR, via a Quest Pro, where both of them were represented by a Codec Avatar, that is a hyper-realistic avatar from Meta’s R&D.
 Mark Zuckerberg’s “First Interview In The Metaverse” with Lex Fridman has been a very well-thought communication move. Instead of showing people how the “metaverse” is now with very rough images (that easily become memes) or how it may be in the future with some fluffy videos, Zuck has used the best technologies from the Meta R&D department: Meta’s Codec Avatars. Codec Avatars are not only impressive because they are strikingly similar to a real person, but they are also something that people can immediately grasp by watching a video on YouTube. They are not an abstract concept like “metaverse”, but they are a very practical and understandable feature, with a very clear use case: “connecting distant people”. In fact, the comments to this podcast on Twitter and YouTube have all been enthusiastic, and some commenters became believers in Meta’s vision. I had never seen similar positive comments towards Meta for a very long time. And this isn’t beneficial just for Meta, but for all our industry.
 As a professional in VR, I have of course to add that there are two big problems with these Meta Avatars. The first is that they still fall into the “uncanny valley” and look a bit disturbing because their faces do not move exactly like a real person. They are very realistic, but watching the video, my brain had a very negative adversion against it, because it started finding those people “weird to watch”. Solving this problem will require a lot of effort from Meta.
 The second problem is that this technology is still an R&D one, and it requires a very expensive and complex setup to perform the scan of the persons. The team working on it says that this becoming a product released to consumers requires “a few miracles” to happen, meaning that years of work are still necessary to finalize it. So while the technology is amazing, it’s important we also tune our expectations: this is a vision of the future, not of the present of XR.
 But today, it has already been useful to make some jaws drop.

More info

Quest 3 is coming with a few accessories

Of course, the Quest 3 has been announced together with a set of interesting accessories, like:

  • A charging dock ($130) that can recharge also the batteries of the controllers wirelessly
  • An Elite Strap ($70) which may also come together with an extra battery ($130). I just hope that this one doesn’t break easily like the previous version
  • A carrying case ($70), overpriced as usual
  • A Silicone Facial Interface ($40), ideal to do fitness
  • Active Straps for Touch Plus Controllers ($40) which are going to increase the grip of the controllers
  • VR Prescription Lenses ($50), manufactured by Zenni
  • Quest-branded model of Razer’s noise-cancelling Hammerhead HyperSpeed earbuds (price still unannounced)
  • Blue and orange-colored sets of facial interface and head strap ($50). This is my favorite accessory because it finally lets you customize the look and feel of the Quest, which thanks to this abandons the usual white and black colors to become colorful and joyful. I would have loved this to come as a standard option for the device.

More info (Quest 3 Accessories)
More info (Quest 3 colored headstrap)
More info (Razer Hammerhead earbuds)

Some content was announced for Quest 3, but not AAA games

One of the disappointing bits of the Meta Connect was the part about the new upcoming content for Quest 3. Meta announced some minor upcoming games, but has not unveiled any new big AAA productions for Quest 3, nor has given any further updates on GTA San Andreas VR. Furthermore, the company has revealed to Upload VR that there will be no content exclusive for Quest 3 (i.e. not also available on Quest 2) until 2024. This helps in increasing the shelf life of Quest 2 but prevents studios from launching upgraded versions of their games specific for the new headset.
 The main important news regarding games has been IMHO:

  • The launch of Roblox on Quest Store. Roblox was already on App Lab, where it had more than one million downloads, and now is going to be available on the official Quest store
  • Asgard’s Wrath 2, coming on Quest Store on December 15th, 2023. The game will be free for all Quest 3 purchasers
  • Lego Bricktales, a new mixed-reality game made by Meta in collaboration with Lego
  • The gameplay preview of Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR, which showed the level of visual quality that is possible with Quest 3

In general Meta has revealed that 100 new games are coming to Quest Store, and at least half of them will have mixed reality features.

Meta has also revealed that Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is coming to Quest in December. Thanks to Xbox Cloud Gaming, people will be able to play Xbox games on a giant screen in front of their eyes. This is very cool, but it also a bit worries me because I would prefer that people in a VR headset play VR content and not flatscreen content.
 Last but not least, Meta is going to release Augments for Quest 3. Augments are 3D widgets you can add to your room in mixed reality, and they can be just beautifications, like trophies from Beat Saber, or little utilities, like a little virtual screen that shows to you Instagram reels. If you have ever used HoloLens, they are exactly like the HoloLens widgets.

More info (Roblox on the Quest Store)
More info (All the new games announced during the Meta Connect)
More info (Quest Store to have 100 new pieces of content)
More info (No Quest 3 exclusive games in 2023)
More info (Asgard’s Wrath 2)
More info (Lego Bricktales)
More info (Augments)
More info (Bam!)
More info (Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR)
More info (XBox cloud gaming on Quest)

Meta Quest Store had 2+ Billions of lifetime revenue

Talking about content, Meta has announced that its Meta Quest Store had more than $2B+ of total revenue in its lifetime. This is a remarkable result in a niche like virtual reality. But Road To VR has analyzed the data and noticed that if we map all these announcements about lifetime revenues along these years, we see that spending on Quest Store has been dramatically reduced this year. This is a huge problem for Meta, which subsidizes hardware with software sales. I think Meta hopes to reinvigorate the sales with the new headset… let’s see if this strategy is going to pay off.

More info

Meta and Luxottica launched Ray-Ban Meta Glasses

Meta and Exilor-Luxottica have announced the second edition of the Ray-Ban Stories glasses, called Ray-Ban Meta. These smart glasses are a linear evolution of the previous ones, featuring improved comfort, improved battery, improved camera (12MP), improved audio recording (5 microphones), and improved audio playback. There is still no display, which should come in the next version, according to the rumors. So this version is still meant to take photos, videos, and have phone calls.
 There have been two important innovations coming on this device.
 The first big innovation of Ray-Ban Stories 2 is that now they let you live stream on Instagram and Facebook. You can so perform a live for your friends or your followers directly from the point of view of your head, which in some contexts can be pretty cool. The glasses can also automatically share your pictures and videos on social media channels.
 The second big innovation is that they will be connected with Meta AI, the new conversational AI system created by Meta (something like Meta’s version of ChatGPT). When wearing Ray-Ban Stories 2, you will be able to ask Meta AI whatever you want, like writing a caption for your Instagram reel that you just shot, and it will do it for you. With an update coming next year, the glasses will be able to see what you see and hear what you hear, so they can help you in giving suggestions that are contextual to the situation you are in. So you can look at a broken vase and ask the glasses how to fix it. This is incredibly cool and useful, but comes also with some privacy strings attached. On the strictly technical side, this is what we always dreamt of for the future: an AI assistant that can help us wherever we are, using our contextual information to support us better. But the fact that Meta can see what I see feels a bit… cringe.
 This feature is coming next year and will roll out starting from the US. I guess one of the reasons for the US-first launch is that the EU has stricter rules about privacy, and a system that sees what you see has inherent privacy problems
 On October 17th people will be able to buy the new Ray-Ban Meta smartglasses starting from $299.

More info

News worth a mention

Information leaks on Vive’s inside-out Tracker

There is a new leak about the inside-out tracked Vive Tracker that HTC teased a few months ago. And as you can imagine, the leaks come from him, always him: Brad Lynch. The news is that the device may be called Vive Ultimate Tracker and retail at $200 per unit. To work, trackers need a custom Vive dongle which costs $39. Trackers should be compatible at launch with Vive Focus 3 and Vive XR Elite, with PC compatibility expected later. It is not clear if they can also work in the future with the headsets from Pico and Meta.

More info

The Las Vegas dome hosts an astonishing concert by the U2

The U2 was the first band to perform inside the big dome in Las Vegas, and the images that have been recorded from the performance are pretty cool. The Dome, all covered in a big display, showed some incredible effects, and people had a lot of fun. Everyone was talking about it on social media.
 Sometimes VR without a headset can be cool too 🙂

More info (U2 concert in the dome / 1)
More info (U2 concert in the dome / 2)
More info (U2 concert in the dome / 3)

Microsoft launches Mesh For Enterprise In Beta

After many years of working on it, finally, Microsoft has finally released a preview of Microsoft Mesh dedicated to the enterprise sector. In the month of October, companies will be able to use Mesh inside Microsoft Teams, so members of a company can meet in a 3D space (in VR or flatscreen) and interact together. It is also possible to create your custom spaces to use in Mesh either with a no-code editor or by using Unity to create more personalized and complex scenes.
 It looks me a very interesting solution, and I can’t wait to give it a try with my colleagues.

More info

Bigscreen Beyond got its first real reviews

The most important VR magazines, Road To VR and Upload VR, have reviewed this week the Bigscreen Beyond, reporting very similar positive and negative feedback. The positive side of this headset is that it is very small and lightweight, so very comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The negative side is that its eye box is very small, so if you don’t wear it perfectly, the visuals are not going to be good. Also, it lacks integrated audio, which in 2023 is a big issue.

More info (Bigscreen Beyond review — Road To VR)
More info (Bigscreen Beyond review — Upload VR)

Amazon announces new Echo Frames

Amazon has announced the new model of its Echo Frames glasses, which are smartglasses that connect you to Alexa. This new model has new cool styles and features improved battery life, all for $269.99.
 These glasses come at a time when Amazon is having problems in making Alexa stay relevant: new generative AI chatbots like ChatGPT are in fact taking its place. (Thanks Tom FFiske for sharing the article about this one)

More info (New Amazon Echo glasses)
More info (Amazon having problems with Alexa)

Pimax announces Crystal Sim model

Pimax has just announced a new headset (because there were so few of them in the market). Let me copy-paste the description of it:
 Pimax has long made headsets popular among racing and flight simmers, including the most recent Crystal. Pimax has now responded to the request of many simmers by adding an SKU: The Crystal-Sim, available right now for a price of $1449, or $1549 with the Lighthouse.
 The Crystal-Sim is an update to the Pimax Crystal, without controllers, and a lower refresh rate option. As an added bonus, the Crystal-Sim comes with a unique faceplate (customers can choose), and a discount for a Lighthouse faceplate.
 The Pimax Crystal-Sim (Crystal-Sim Flight or Crystal-Sim Racing) is perfect for simmers, with a resolution of 2880×2880 resolution per eye, glass aspheric lenses with minimal to no distortion, and Tobii-powered eye-tracking for Dynamic Foveated Rendering.
 The Crystal-Sim has the option to use 72 Hz, as well as 90 Hz and 120 Hz. The Crystal-Sim comes without controllers as flight simmers often use a yoke, and racing simmers use a steering wheel.

More info

Last week I reported to you about an experiment using 3D Gaussian Splatting and after that, the community helped me in understanding better what it is. It is a new innovative rendering technique that instead of rendering triangles (hence, a mesh), renders a point cloud of Gaussian distributions. The result of this operation is a very fast rendering that can show you quasi-realistic scenes at 90FPS. There is a lot of hype around this technology, and many research groups are studying its applications, also for XR.

More info (What is Gaussian Splatting / 1)
More info (What is Gaussian Splatting / 2)
More info (What is Gaussian Splatting / 3)

A Redditor claims that VR makes him piss

The WTF news of the week is a post on Reddit with a guy claiming that using VR gives him the urge to piss. Some people answered the post saying that to them VR gives them the urge to poop. I think they should organize a meeting and become friends… just being careful that if there are VR headsets involved, there are enough toilets to accommodate all of them…

More info

Valve Launches SteamVR 2.0 in beta

Finally, after many years working on it, Valve has launched SteamVR 2.0 (in beta), a complete overhaul of the SteamVR interface, to make it more modern, usable, and similar to the interface of other devices like the SteamDeck. We are all wondering if this software update has been made in preparation for a hardware launch…

More info

HTC offers a Viveport Anniversary Deal

HTC Vive is offering a special deal on Viveport to celebrate the 7th anniversary of the platform. Annual subscribers can get for free Primal Hunt, Until You Fall, and Fracked, while monthly subscribers only Fracked. The offer is available both for existing members and new members joining before October, 8th.

More info

Some news about content

  • Sony has announced a few new games for its PSVR 2 headset. Most of them are shooters
  • Schell Games is working on Kurzgesagt, an educational experience that lets you explore reality at different scales
  • Dungeon Full Dive arrives on October 23 on SteamVR. It is meant to let you play D&D on PC VR
  • Next Move is a VR platformer expected to come on November 30 on the Meta Quest platform and PC VR.
  • Genotype, an FPS-style action adventure set in Antarctica, is launching in October. If you preorder now, you get a 14% discount
  • Stranger Things VR launches on November 30 on Quest. There will also be a mixed reality experience related to it
  • “Neko Atsume Purrfect” is an experience all about kittens expected for the winter of 2023
  • Team Beef has just released the VR mod of the mythical Duke Nukem 3D!
  • Wisdom Watcher is a VR arena shooter inspired by the whole repertoire of Italian and European folklore game developed by an Italian team.

More info (Sony PSVR 2 games)
More info (Kurzgesagt)
More info (Dungeon Full Dive)
More info (Next Move)
More info (Genotype)
More info (Stranger Things VR)
More info (Purrfect)
More info (Duke Nukem 3D)
More info (Wisdom Watcher)

Some reviews about content

  • Outta Hand has been Upload’s favorite game at Gamescom: it is a platformer which exploits Gorilla Tag movement mechanic and it is fun and variated
  • Upload had a preview of Soul Covenant and appreciated its action mechanics.

More info (Outta Hand)
More info (Soul Covenant)

Other news

Upload VR journalists have written a roundup of their experience at Gamescom

Learn more

Epic Games has just laid off more than 800 employees, confirming the negative moment for tech companies

Learn more

Snap shuts down its enterprise services division

Learn more

A graph reveals how every year there are always fewer games released for VR on Steam

Learn more

Meta updates the XR Simulator, that lets you simulate your headset when you are debugging your VR application

Learn more

Upload went hands-on with Sony’s prototypical haptic VR controllers

Learn more

News from partners (and friends)


Chinese manufacturer LAWK has just started a Kickstarter campaign for its new smartglasses, dubbed LAWK One. This is how the company describes them:
 Get ready to be amazed by the all-in-one marvel that is LAWK ONE. Our AR data visualization, sports data tracking and recording, 4K video shooting capabilities, advanced navigation features, music playback functionality, and much more — all within a single device weighing only 80g. Can be substituted for bike computers, sports cameras, and Bluetooth earphones, and bid farewell to the inconvenience of carrying multiple gadgets.
Learn more

Some XR fun

Meta during Meta Connect 2023
Funny link

Quest Pro after the release of Quest 3
Funny link

Boz says PlayStation during the Quest 3 event
Funny link

ChatGPT is becoming always more human in his answers
Funny link

Valve has finally launched its headse… ah no
Funny link

Sneak Peek of the new NVIDIA RTX5090
Funny link

Well, this is an interesting review for sure…
Funny link

Donate for good

Like last week, also this week in this final paragraph I won’t ask you to donate for my blog, but to the poor people that are facing the consequences of the war. Please donate to the Red Cross to handle the current humanitarian situation in Ukraine. I will leave you the link to do that below.
 Let me take a moment before to thank anyway all my Patreon donors for the support they give to me:

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And now here you are the link to donate:

Support The Red Cross in Ukraine

(Header image by Meta)

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