Tech

Meta’s ‘augments’ place digital objects around your physical space


Meta’s new Quest 3 mixed-reality headset will allow users to personalize their physical spaces with “augments” —  a series of objects and widgets that are digitally plastered to their real-world environment.

“Next year, you’ll be able to customize your space with a library of augments that interact with the world in ways that physical objects can’t,” said Andrew Bosworth, Meta’s chief technology officer, during Meta’s annual Connect conference Wednesday. “These can be dynamic 3D objects or 2D displays, and they can all exist together in the same space.”

Augments can seemingly run the gamut of objects. Beat Saber fans can place their hard-won digital trophies on their real-world shelves. Music lovers can use an iHeartRadio widget to bring their favorite artists and stations to life. Gym junkies can put up a bobblehead of their Supernatural fitness trainer to stay motivated. Or users can do things as simple as decorate their space, put up a digital clock or hang an avatar mirror.

“You can size, place and spatially anchor augments, so every time you put on your headset, they’re right where you left them,” said Bosworth.

The Quest 3 advances on the tech foundations laid by the Quest Pro, namely the mixed-reality aspects. The idea is that the moment you put on the Quest 3, you’ll first see the world around you. And not just a live video feed of a space that you’re in. Bosworth says Quest 3 “automatically maps your space and understands elements like walls, furniture and objects.” Those mapped objects then become a part of your virtual environment.

“Games can bring your surroundings into their gameplay,” said Bosworth. “So in First Encounters, an alien spaceship descends from your ceiling and lands on your coffee table.”

Notably, this also means that the Quest 3 can understand where it’s safe to move around, meaning users won’t need to set up a virtual boundary, a previous safety feature that alerts them when they’re near the edge of their designated play area.

To achieve this integration, Bosworth says Meta improved the color accuracy and reduced distortions and latency. The spatial computing aspect is certainly impressive, according to TechCrunch staffers who have tested the tech. And it needs to be in order to compete with Apple’s Vision Pro AR headset, which focuses more on AR than VR.

Meta’s Quest 3 differentiates itself because it “isn’t one or the other. It can do both,” according to Bosworth. If you’re watching live sports, you can transition from an immersive private theater to a big screen on your living room wall by double tapping the side of the headset, he continued.

It’s not clear if your augments will be viewable by other users, like if a friend came over with their own headset and you wanted to show off your cool digital-meets-physical space. Meta did not respond in time to clarify.

Read more about Meta Connect on TechCrunch



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