After months of promising that his Project Cambria headset would revolutionize the worlds of virtual, augmented and mixed reality, Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has finally given us our first glimpse of what it’s capable of; and we’re more than a little overwhelmed.
After the resounding success of Meta Quest 2 (formerly Oculus Quest 2), Meta’s next headset has been set up perfectly for a home run. VR is more popular than ever, and Quest 2 leads the way with its distinct design, impressive features, and library of incredible (and exclusive) VR games.
Project Cambria will take everything that made Quest 2 great, but take it all to a higher level with improved specs and features.
One of those upgrades is Color Passthrough, a tool that allows Cambria wearers to see the real world around them in color, rather than black and white like Quest 2.
This nondescript-sounding feature will actually be a massive boost to Meta’s headset’s mixed reality capabilities. But based on Mark Zuckerberg’s demo, you’d be forgiven if that wasn’t the impression you made.
A not-so-next-gen presentation
In a post on his Facebook page, the CEO of Meta gave us an annotated, minute-by-minute look at his time playing The World Beyond.
Powered by Meta’s new Presence platform (more on that in a moment), this mixed reality game features a cute alien, rabbit and fox hybrid Thing as a faithful companion (imagine a fake Stitch from Disney’s Lilo and Stitch from 2002 before). .
The game itself looks fun, with Zuckerberg throwing a virtual ball around for his companion to retrieve and scratching the little critter’s head when it does a good job. It’s effectively an AR Tamagotchi.
But the presentation of the demo gives the atmosphere of a middle school video project.
We barely get 30 seconds of footage of Zuckerberg actually playing the game, and even less of his point of view. The few clips we get from inside the headset are a choppy mess – showing that Cambria won’t be making many improvements to the Quest 2’s lackluster video recording capabilities.
That felt like the kind of footage you’d expect from a leaker – something shot in a hurry to avoid being caught by superiors – not an official first look.
Project Cambria was hyped up as a PS5 for Quest 2’s PS4, but this demo makes it look more like the PS4 Slim.
Color aside, nothing from The World Beyond looked like it wouldn’t be possible on the Quest 2 – perhaps that’s why a monochrome version is “soon” coming to the headset’s App Lab lineup, according to Zuckerberg.
Similar to his VR Foo Fighters concert, Meta needs to stop hampering his own efforts.
Presence Platform sounds really cool. It enables developers to use AI and machine learning to create inventive mixed reality experiences with hand and voice interactions. But what we’ve seen so far doesn’t look particularly revolutionary.
With the Project Cambria headset launching this year, it doesn’t take long for Meta and Zuckerberg to give us a proper presentation to show us what their new hardware looks like and what it’s capable of. But this demo definitely dampened our expectations.
Turns out the “meta killer” we’ve been waiting for isn’t PSVR 2 or Valve Index 2, it’s meta itself.