Facebook parent Meta unveiled a high-end virtual reality headset Tuesday with the hope that people will soon be using it to work and play in the still-elusive place called the "metaverse." The $1,500 Meta Quest Pro headset costs nearly four times what Meta's cheapest Quest 2 headset does. So what do you get for that price tag? High-resolution sensors that let people see mixed virtual and augmented reality in full color, as well as eye tracking and so-called "natural facial expressions" that mimic the wearer's facial movements so their avatars appear natural when interacting with other avatars in virtual-reality environments. Indeed, "if you arch your eyebrows or they puff up their cheeks in real life, so too will the VR avatars," writes Rachel Metz for CNN.
Meta also announced that its metaverse avatars will soon have legs—an important detail that's been missing since the avatars made their debut last year. Formerly known as Facebook, Meta wants to evolve from a provider of social platforms to a dominant power in a nascent virtual-reality construct called the metaverse—sort of like the internet brought to life, or at least rendered in 3D. VR headsets are already popular with some gamers, but Meta knows that won't be enough to make the metaverse mainstream. As such, it's setting office—and home office—workers in its sights.
Indeed, Metz notes the Meta Quest Pro can "display text and fine details in VR, making it possible to read even small type with ease." Rolf Illenberger, founder and managing director of VRdirect, which builds VR environments for businesses, shares his take with the AP: "Meta is positioning the new Meta Quest Pro headset as an alternative to using a laptop." But he added that for businesses, operating in the virtual worlds of the metaverse is still "quite a stretch." If you want to read a long take on what the Meta Quest Pro is like to use, we recommend Scott Stein's piece at CNET. His upshot: "It's hard to tell whether the Quest Pro is the best version of what's been available, or the first version of what's to come next." (Read more Meta stories.)