Yes, you read that right. A few of Meta’s upcoming Quest Pro virtual reality units — particularly early tech monsters — were found unexpectedly in a hotel room, of all places, according to The Verge.
I don’t even want to speculate about the legal or employment ramifications associated with an unreleased product flaw like this, but the hardware shown in images and videos taken by an alleged hotel employee appears to be the real deal.
The standalone mixed reality headset looks much more streamlined than its predecessor, the Meta Quest 2, and looks more like futuristic goggles than any bulky VR gear we’ve seen in the past. The wireless controllers also look changed, with an updated form factor that omits the plastic sensor rings of previous generations.
Even alleged retail packaging is visible in the leak, showing that the social media giant is likely going ahead with the official Meta Quest Pro name. According to the article, the quirky devices have already been returned to their rightful owner, who no doubt regrets not doing a final room scan before the hotel checks out. Unless it was done on purpose, which would be even weirder.
Last month, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on the Joe Rogan Podcast that the new hardware would debut sometime in October, likely to coincide with the Meta Connect event on October 11. In the interview, Zuckerberg said the technology in the headset was largely designed with eye contact and face tracking in mind, promising more of a human connection between users than traditional Skype, Zoom or FaceTime calls.
I’m sure this is all done in regards to the oft-derided Horizon Worlds, among other possible uses. Zuckerberg still gets gibberish for whatever he tries to do with Facebook and the discussed but never fully understood metaverse, and at least anecdotally, a large and willing audience for this stuff doesn’t seem to exist. Not yet anyway.
All I can say is that at an estimated $1,500, the Meta Quest Pro could be more impressive when it launches. All signs point to this being a premium VR experience, especially when compared to the current Meta Quest 2, which has a paltry (by comparison) starting price of $400. This won’t be a headset for the masses, but rather for those who want to be on the cutting edge of virtual reality.
The real question with new VR hardware remains: does anyone care? From what I’ve experienced lately, the medium remains compelling, interesting, and at times even downright impressive, but the games you need to play just aren’t there.
Until some of the AAA heavyweights start taking VR seriously, it will be relegated to an enthusiastic but very niche market. Perhaps Zuckerberg’s vision for a hyper-connected, virtual reality future will eventually come to fruition and the naysayers will have to eat crow. That said, I’ll be the first to give Meta Quest Pro a good shot in October, if indeed when it comes out.
Still, even if the metaverse future does exist one day, it feels like it won’t be here for a long, long time.