Lynx Says $4 Million Investment ‘Secures Our Supply Chain’ Ahead Of R-1 Deliveries

Lynx says it raised $4 million in a funding round ahead of delivery of its R-1 mixed reality headset.

Lynx creator Stan Larroque posted  on Twitter about the funding, writing that “after our successful Kickstarter we’re now able to secure our supply chain completely and fulfill the insane demand we’re facing.” The highly anticipated system is based on the same XR2 chipset powering Quest 2 while providing full color passthrough for mixed reality/AR with an open air view of your surroundings. The sides can also be closed off for a VR viewing experience as well.

Lynx recently showed off the hardware at GDC in San Francisco and confirmed to UploadVR Correspondents that backers could “expect the first headsets to come between June and July,” instead of the original April delivery target. The headset is also listed on the Lynx website for $599 with “delivery starting June 2022” listed.

The $4 million Series A funding round was led by Somnium Space and its CEO Artur Sychov is joining Lynx’ board. Somnium Space describes itself as an “open, social & persistent VR platform powered by blockchain” and, in a prepared statement, Sychov praised Lynx’ “openness” and potential to “revolutionize the way we all think and interact with this market category.” Larroque wrote the “new investors are top of the line and from the AR/VR world” and said there’d be more updates in a video scheduled for May 31, embedded below. 

We’re excited to see more detailed looks at the final device Lynx ships to backers and will have updates on the company in the months to come.

Meta CTO Explains Why Quest Doesn’t Have Automatic Room Setup

Meta’s Andrew Bosworth explained why Quest headsets don’t yet have automatic room setup.

A new experimental feature appeared on some Quest 2 headsets this week enabling owners to manually mark out areas and objects in their home for a new class of mixed reality experience that’s responsive to the physical environment.

The feature leads to the obvious question: “Why isn’t VR play space setup fully automatic?”

Virtual Desktop creator Guy Godin asked that question on Twitter this week, asking “why do users have to outline doors, walls and furniture manually? The Quest has cameras (although low quality ones), in theory it should be able to do all this automatically through image recognition. Am I missing something?”

On Wednesday, Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth responded, writing “Segmentation is getting better all the time but still has error. The risk of getting it wrong is a concern as it relates to how people can safely navigate a physical space.”

Starting in 2019, Oculus Quest (and now Meta Quest 2) enabled players to use their controllers like laser pointers to outline a safe space on the floor that’s clear to move around inside. The company improved its systems over the last couple years, moving to support hand tracking-only setups and the ability to save the location of a couch or desk. Late last year, Meta also added a “Space Sense” feature to alert people in VR if something enters their play space.

This week when I tested the new experimental room setup feature I walked into a physical table while immersed in VR because I had forgotten to mark it out. The collision occurred within the first few minutes of testing the feature, suggesting Quest 2 owners will need to take great care if they use it. Meta plans to launch an experience called The World Beyond on Quest 2 as a demonstration of what developers can build with mixed reality. It should launch with the release of v40 of Meta’s Oculus software development tools but, as of this writing, the latest SDK version is still v39.

Quest 2 Experimental Room Setup Adds Walls & Furniture To Mixed Reality

A new experimental room setup feature on Quest 2 allows owners to map out their walls, doors, windows, and furniture for a new class of mixed reality experience.

The new “Room Setup – Experimental” feature sees you mark out surfaces in your home to build out a basic outline of your walls and the objects within. Using the feature I was able to quickly make boxes for a table as well as an island in my kitchen. These two surfaces are on either side of my typical play space, and having them represented in VR made it so I could easily leave my Oculus Touch controllers on either surface without taking the headset off. That’s of course just the beginning as developers figure out creative ways to incorporate furniture and walls into their mixed reality apps.

The feature appeared in the settings of one of our Quest 2 headsets running v40 of the system. The new feature could be activated separate to the existing computer vision-based safety systems on Quest 2, Space Sense and Guardian boundaries, with the experimental feature built around a more robust “Scene Understanding” that was originally previewed last year during Meta’s Connect event.

“Bring the walls, furniture and objects from your room into VR so you can use apps that blend your real and virtual environments,” a dialog for the feature notes.

Late last year, developer Bob Berkebile built and released a free tool that enabled similar functionality, and some developers have been exploring these features in their Quest 2 apps on an individual basis as well. Notably, Berkebile lists on Linkedin he started at Meta in January of this year.

Earlier this month, Meta teased a new experience called The World Beyond coming to App Lab as a showpiece for the functionality. Meta said The World Beyond would launch with v40 of the software development kit for Oculus developers, but as of this writing v39 is still the latest version on the Oculus developer site.

I was able to test the new experimental room setup feature in the video below.

 

Later this year Meta is planning to sell a high-end standalone headset, currently known as Project Cambria, for significantly more than $800. It’ll feature a depth sensor and color passthrough views from higher resolution cameras that’ll likely make mixed reality experiences on that headset far more impressive.

Qualcomm: Latest XR2 Reference Design For AR Cuts The Cord

Qualcomm showed a new reference design for AR glasses with the XR2 chipset driving a wireless connection to a nearby phone, PC, or processing puck.

Qualcomm says the new “Wireless AR Smart Viewer” built by Goertek offers a diagonal field of view of just about 40 degrees. The new glasses design is the latest in a series of headsets from Qualcomm meant to make it easier for the company’s partners to make a product using each design as a reference.

A wired AR Smart Viewer design was announced last year powered by Qualcomm’s older and less expensive XR1 platform. XR2 is the newer, higher priced and more capable chip used to power Quest 2, Vive Focus 3, Pico Neo 3 Link. Qualcomm revealed a reference design for a VR headset based on XR2 back in 2020.

Qualcomm said several manufacturers are exploring the new wireless design which splits rendering and processing tasks between a compatible wireless device and the glasses themselves. Qualcomm claims there’s less than 3 milliseconds of latency between a smartphone and the glasses and the reference design carries a 90Hz refresh rate with 1920 x 1080 resolution per eye from a micro-OLED display.

Quest 2 is so inexpensive at $299 from Meta that the competition is essentially priced out of the consumer market for standalone VR while AR glasses designs offer such a slim field of view that their consumer appeal is fairly limited. That means few companies have taken advantage of these latest reference designs to build consumer products. The ThinkReality A3 smart glasses from Lenovo, for example, were developed in parallel to the XR1-based design and they only target business customers.

XR2 has been shipping in products for a couple years now and we asked Qualcomm’s Hugo Swart if he could offer a timeline for release of a second generation of the chipset. He declined to be specific but told journalists recently they’re “looking for the right time for the next leap in performance.” Later this year, Project Cambria from Meta is expected to bring a depth sensor to a high-end standalone product and we don’t yet know most of its specifications.

Quest 2 Refurbished For $249 Remains VR’s Best Deal

A refurbished Quest 2 with 128 GB storage for $249, sold directly by Meta, is the best deal for a VR headset right now.

Walmart offered Quest 2 refurbished last year as low as $199 for the earlier 64 GB model, but that storage size has been bumped out of the lineup as VR games running on the system have grown in size. Medal Of Honor: Above And Beyond, for example, takes up 41 GB of storage on its own. As of this writing, the 128 GB Meta Quest 2 sells new for $299 or refurbished for $249, with the note “inscription may vary” suggesting buyers might get one with either the earlier “Oculus” branding or the new Meta company symbol on the front of the headset.

For those just catching up on the state of VR in 2022 — Quest 2 is a self-contained standalone VR headset which comes with a pair of tracked controllers to play everything from active games like Beat Saber, Pistol Whip or Supernatural to fun social gaming experiences like Walkabout Mini Golf or Eleven: Table Tennis, or even intense scare-fests like Resident Evil 4 VR or The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners. If you’re looking to get a Quest 2, be sure to check out our top 25 games list for a look at the best of what’s available. Quest 2 is also compatible with powerful gaming PCs as well, meaning if your computer is up to the task you may be able to download games like Half-Life: Alyx, Boneworks No Man’s Sky or Microsoft Flight Simulator, and stream them over to Quest 2 from either a wired USB connection or wireless via Wi-Fi. There’s even a vibrant sideloading community working of standalone VR ports of older PC games like Quake 3 Arena and Doom 3. Taken altogether, there’s no other VR hardware available that even comes close in price while offering access to so much high quality VR content. While Quest 2 requires a Facebook account to use today, that’s expected to change as well.

Quest 2 is priced so low for a complete standalone VR system because Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants as many people as possible using the company’s headsets as it transitions away from focusing on Facebook. That means he’s comfortable taking hardware losses up front for Quest 2 rather than take profit as companies like Apple do. The loss-leading strategy comes even while Meta invests $10 billion or more annually on a range of initiatives, like hiring engineers or securing VR titles like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for the platform.

“I think our inclination is probably going to be to try to offer these products at as low of a cost as possible in order to be able to get them out to everyone. So unlike some of the other companies in this space that basically charge premium prices as their business model, one of our core principles is we want to serve everyone. I’m very focused not only on how you create a good VR & AR device, but how do you make it so it’s $300 instead of $1000. I think that’s a pretty big deal,” Zuckerberg said last year.

Meta’s next VR headset will release this year, but it is a high-priced product code-named Project Cambria that’s expected to be compatible with Quest games. The system will offer additional features designed for remote workers or long distance socialization, but the price for Cambria is expected to be “significantly” higher than $800. Quest 2 first started shipping in late 2020 and could be replaced as early as next year, but leaders at the company have said on multiple occasions Quest 2 would have “a long life.”

Meta says it has a “limited supply” of refurbished Quest 2 headsets which are covered by a 6-month warranty and 30-day return policy.

Meta ‘Still Working’ On Quest Login Options Without Facebook

Meta is “still working” on options for logging into Quest headsets without your Facebook account, the company’s CTO reiterated in a recent question and answer session.

Andrew Bosworth, Meta’s new chief technology officer, recently answered one of UploadVR’s questions in a recent Q&A session delivered via Instagram. Many of our readers are Quest owners and have been looking for updates on the Facebook account policy change, first announced late last year, so we asked whether he could offer any new information.

He answered:

“Yes, this is still in the works, still on the way. One does not simply change the account structure, it turns out those data privacy regulations around how data is owned, how it’s moved, how it’s managed, are of critical importance to how we work at Meta and we’re having to work with all due care and diligence as we make these transitions, but we are still working on this, it’s still going to happen, so stand by.”

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed the change in direction last October at the same time the company changed its name from Facebook. The change also marked a major turning point in Zuckerberg’s march toward independence from other technology platform companies as it aims to build an embodied version of the Internet. Facebook first acquired the Oculus VR startup in 2014 for $3 billion, but last year Meta’s investments in VR and AR technology rose to $10 billion with plans for growth even further in the coming years.

In October 2020, Facebook started requiring the use of its social media accounts with current “and all future unreleased Oculus devices” and the company said it would end support for the original Oculus accounts used with Facebook’s first consumer headsets by the start of 2023. Just a year on from that announcement, however, and Facebook shifted course to focus the entirety of its strategy toward its new “Meta” efforts. While the “Oculus” brand has already been replaced on various surfaces by “Meta”, many existing and prospective Quest buyers are still waiting to see what changes come with the company’s new account structure.

Later this year, Meta is planning to release the remote work-focused Project Cambria headset and will host its Connect developer conference to provide some of the latest updates.

Meta Launching Quest 2 Mixed Reality Demo On App Lab

Meta is bringing a demo called The World Beyond to App Lab to demonstrate to Quest 2 owners some of the most advanced features of the company’s development platforms for VR and mixed reality.

The World Beyond should be available “very” soon, according to Meta, and it will be released alongside v40 of the company’s software development kit. In a video posted to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page, the company shows footage from a full-color version of the app running on the company’s upcoming Cambria headset.

“This demo was created using Presence Platform, which we built to help developers build mixed reality experiences that blend physical and virtual worlds. The demo, called ‘The World Beyond,’ will be available on App Lab soon,” Zuckerberg posted. “It’s even better with full color passthrough and the other advanced technologies we’re adding to Project Cambria. More details soon.”

The video shows Zuckerberg using a range of hand gestures to interact with a character and throw a virtual ball to see it bounce off the physical walls of his room. The character looks like Oppy, which was shown during Meta’s Connect conference late last year using the black and white passthrough mode on Quest 2. I’ve embedded video of Oppy below as it is likely a representation of what Quest 2 owners may see in the demo. The World Beyond is meant as a demonstration of Meta’s “Presence Platform”, which refers to a collection of tools for developers encompassing voice input, passthrough, and interactions.

According to Meta, the company plans to open source The World Beyond “so developers can use it as a sample app to help them build.”

Google Previews ‘Prototype’ Glasses For Live AR Translation

Google’s keynote presentation at its annual developer’s conference closed out with a video showcasing a prototype live translation service on AR glasses.

The video shows Google product managers handing prototype glasses to research participants, “my mother speaks Mandarin and I speak English,” one of the participants explains, with the video showing “a simulated point of view” to bring across the concept of how the glasses could essentially enable real-time subtitles as a translation service next to the face, theoretically allowing people to maintain eye contact more while speaking.

While no details were revealed about the actual specifications of the glasses, the video continued a theme from the event of Google seeking to enhance or augment interactions in the physical world, in stark contrast from a few years ago when Google supported the development of virtual worlds with Daydream. The language Google executives used during the presentation also seemed to contrast with Meta’s current push toward the “metaverse.”

“We’ve been building augmented reality into many Google products, from Google Lens to multisearch, scene exploration, and Live and immersive views in Maps,” Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote. “These AR capabilities are already useful on phones and the magic will really come alive when you can use them in the real world without the technology getting in the way.”

AR glasses face severe constraints in terms of battery consumption, heat dissipation, brightness, and field of view that seem to place the timelines for true consumer-oriented standalone AR glasses out into the future at least a couple years. Still, in a process that’s been building for a long time, we’re seeing technology giants begin to ready their existing services to power this coming augmented reality platform which Pichai called “the next frontier of computing.”

Meta Retiring Venues App & Building Events Into Horizon Worlds

Meta is moving events from Horizon Venues to the Horizon Worlds platform and shutting down the original app in June.

The move effectively cuts off the original Oculus Quest from access to the company’s own social VR spaces just three years after the headset first went on sale.

Horizon Worlds is a shared network of user generated spaces the company is supporting with prizes, training, and a test to pay creators. While Horizon Worlds launched on Quest 1, support for the headset was pulled in January this year. Currently, Meta only grants access to users with Facebook accounts who are age 18 or older and living in the United States or Canada. While Meta is bringing Horizon Worlds to more devices and more countries, as of this writing it only runs on Quest 2 and Rift.

The Venues app — originally Oculus Venues and then later Horizon Venues — was host to a series of social VR watch parties for a range of events from concerts to sports, with a recent Foo Fighters concert streamed in Venues after the Super Bowl plagued by technical issues. Now Venue’s calendar of events will continue inside Horizon Worlds where people can “jump between a game world to a hang out space—then head right into a big show with your friends,” as a Meta blog post notes.

“People over 18 in the US and Canada who have access to Horizon Worlds on Quest 2 will be able to access Venues programming in the Horizon Worlds app on June 6,” the post notes. “If you’re not in the US or Canada, are 13 – 17 years of age, and/or are on Quest 1, you’ll lose access to Venues programming when the standalone Venues app goes away on June 6, though you’ll still be able to catch highlights and replays of Venues events in Oculus TV.”

Meta executives have said they’ll be cutting the requirement that its headsets need a Facebook account to use them, but we haven’t had a recent update on how precisely that will work. The company is preparing a high-end VR headset to launch later this year currently known as Project Cambria and plans to invest $10+ billion annually in building out efforts to become a leading provider of wearable computers.

Meta: Project Cambria’s Price ‘Significantly’ Higher Than $800

The next VR headset from Meta should be priced significantly higher than $800, a spokesperson for the company wrote to UploadVR over email.

The headset is currently known as Project Cambria and it is expected to ship later this year as a high-end work-focused headset that is also compatible with Quest games. Our independent confirmation of the high price target for the headset — which has been alluded to previously as Quest Pro — comes in the wake of a report by The Information (subscription required) which cited “two people familiar with the matter” as saying Meta targeted $799 for the headset, alongside sources indicating Meta plans three additional VR headsets to release by 2024.

Meta recently described Project Cambria as ” more focused on work use cases and eventually replacing your laptop or work setup” with “improved ergonomics and full color passthrough mixed reality to seamlessly blend virtual reality with the physical world. We’re also building in eye tracking and face tracking so that your avatar can make eye contact and facial expressions, which dramatically improves your sense of presence.” The headset is expected to use pancake lenses for a slimmer front-end on the design, and Cambria’s controllers are expected to track themselves.

The Information’s report suggests Meta aims to follow Quest 2, which starts at $299, with “two new versions” in 2023 and 2024 as well as a second version of Cambria in 2024. A previous report from The Verge dived deep into Meta’s AR glasses development and detailed those plans into the latter part of the decade. Meta is also working on wrist-worn neural input devices as well as the Portal video calling appliances, with the company likely to align its products with one another over successive generations so that buyers have reasons to purchase multiple pieces of Meta hardware.

Of course, the timelines Meta actually lands on for its devices as well as the features and prices targeted in the forthcoming eyewear could still shift dramatically as the company develops its product roadmaps further.