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Since early last year, the rumor mill has been buzzing with the delicious promise of a new headset from our friends at Meta. The Oculus Quest 2 has been such a roaring success selling over 14.8 million units to date with no end in sight. Mark Zuckerburg has always been quite vocal about his investment in virtual reality and his MetaVerse and it stands to reason that we’re about to see a burst of technology in the very near future.
So what is Project Cambria? Is it an Oculus Quest 2 Pro with beefier specs? Is it going to be titled Oculus Pro or Cambria? What is Butterscotch? What can we separate from rumors and speculation and mark as fact? Let’s dive into the wonderful world of Oculus Pro or Meta Pro or Cambria Meta and find out, shall we?
Are Project Cambrian and the Quest Pro the Same Thing?
OK, so first and foremost, Project Cambria and the Quest Pro are most likely two different projects entirely. Mark Zuckerburg has shared with us concept work for multiple different headsets. While the Quest Pro is all but a certainty based on the killer sales of the Oculus Quest 2, Project Cambria is a much higher-end concept that looks likely to cost an arm and a leg. Project Cambria is boasting AR/VR capabilities with clear color video passthrough.
The likelihood that this project will evolve into a Quest 2 Pro is unlikely. It’s more conceivable that they will launch two headsets. A Meta Quest 2 Pro with better hardware than the original Quest 2 and possibly color pass-through tech also. This will most likely launch with a more affordable price tag for mass consumption. The Project Cambria is more likely to launch as a separate headset with a hefty price tag only for the enthusiasts with deep pockets. Let’s take a look now at what we know about Project Cambria.
Project Cambria Specs and Rumors: Displays, Cameras, Eye Tracking, and Processor
An accurate predictor for all things Apple, Ming-Chi Kuo has a lot to say about Project Cambria. In contradiction to me, he does believe it will be known as Meta Quest 2 Pro and he also reveals some of the technology predicted to be in use on the headset itself. Again all of the below is speculative but his predictions in the past have borne fruition on many occasions. Here’s what he laid out on Twitter about Project Cambria:
- Mini LED Displays – The visuals will be handled by much smaller flatter LED lenses which he refers to as pancake lenses. This takes up much less space and allows for a smaller, sleeker headset design.
- 16 Cameras – The headset will come with no less than 16 mounted cameras internal and external. This will allow for even more accurate tracking of positions and movements. It will go a long way toward improvement of hand tracking, which may negate the need for controllers. Although he does mention that two of these cameras will be on controllers themselves so unlikely we’ll be ditching them altogether.
- Facial Expression Recognition – This tracking technology will allow for facial recognition of expressions to mimic and understand what the users face is doing. This will enhance online meetings as digital avatars may express facial movements and lip-sync accurately to what a headset user is saying or conveying with their face.
- Eye Tracking – Knowing what the user is focusing on and staring at can allow the GPU to render a smaller area to a high standard and render peripheral vision areas to a lower resolution. This tech relieves the processing work and allows power to go elsewhere.
- Qualcomm Processor – Kuo predicts that Meta will continue the partnership they have with Qualcomm and the processor will be very similar (but hopefully not too similar) to the processing chip in use on the Quest 2. Qualcomm mainly produces CPUs for mobile phone technology but that’s not an insult. The latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 is incredibly powerful and rivals that of Intel or AMD.
If you want to check out Ming-Chi Kuo’s other predictions or follow what he has to say on future projects, be sure to check him out here.
Project Butterscotch – What We Know So Far, Rumors And Leaks
Project Butterscotch is another term loosely thrown around lately thanks to Meta and their development crew constantly working on new technology. Mark Zuckerburg himself has spoken briefly about Project Butterscotch too recently. Butterscotch is a prototype that they’re currently using to explore newer tech within their headsets.
Not necessarily will it be its own finished project but more just a path they are currently exploring. If successfully, the experimental technology may be incorporated into some of their future releases though so it’s worth keeping an eye on. But what the heck is it I hear you ask? Well, let’s find out!
The Butterscotch prototype headset is exploring lens technology and the level of clarity that can be achieved. The goal is simple (yet so incredibly hard to achieve). Mark and his team want visuals as clear as real life when viewed through the lens. They have already achieved 8K visuals but are pushing the technology even further to achieve the same clarity you would see in the real world.
The mindset is that if they can achieve this high level, then the disconnect between reality and virtual reality will become non-existent. If what you see in a headset can be as clear and detailed as the real world then we are stepping into ‘Ready Player One’ territory with how addictive virtual reality might become. Project Butterscotch showcases how far Meta has come in achieving this goal. Still a long way off but what they have done so far is very impressive.
A demonstration shows an optician’s eye test chart and it’s possible to read the very small print at the very bottom of the chart. This simply was not possible before with previous lenses as text in general inside of VR is quite blurry and pixelated. To be able to read clearly the bottom of an eye exam chart is impressive, to say the least. Whether it’s cost-effective to introduce these lenses into an upcoming release is another matter altogether, but we can hope!
The trade-off for this level of clarity from the lenses though was a very narrow and unnatural field of view so it’s clear that more work is needed on the project to achieve desired results. It does seem quite exciting that perhaps it can be incorporated with their eye-tracking technology to reduce the strain on the processor and perhaps then widen the field of view to an acceptable level. Definitely worth following even for the mildest of enthusiasts. Watch this space for more updates as they happen!
Overall – What Will The Future Bring?
Not knowing what the official Oculus Quest 2 Pro or Project Cambria may look like when released still leaves us excited. Meta and their team being open about the different prototypes and technology they’re currently working on shows a level of dedication to virtual reality that we have not seen before from any other company. Money clearly is no issue for Meta and it’s now evident that they’re passionate about future releases.
Their leaps in mini LED and Holocake technology means for certain that the next headset released should have a smaller, sleeker form factor than we’re currently used to seeing on the market. Their leaps in eye-tracking technology and facial recognition might also mean we get a more socially friendly experience for gaming, socializing, and even work scenarios.
All in all, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what specs, etc. the next Quest 2 Pro might release with or indeed what the price tag might be but exciting to know that it’s coming very soon. IT will certainly be a big leap ahead of what has come before and with good marketing and an affordable sticker price, this might be the next must-have purchased just in time for Christmas!