The Biggest Announcements at Connect and What it All Means for XR
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Unveiling the Most Significant Announcements at Connect and Their Implications for XR

**Title:** Meta Connect 2023 Announcements: A Look into the Future of XR

**Introduction**
Meta Connect 2023 recently concluded, offering a plethora of information from one of the XR industry’s major players. As a gaming news writer and expert, it’s important to highlight the significant announcements from Connect 2023 and explore their implications for the future of XR.

**The 10th Annual Connect Conference**
The 10th annual Connect conference marked a significant milestone and was the first to have an in-person component after the Covid pandemic. Originating as Oculus Connect in 2014, the conference has witnessed remarkable changes and rapid progress in the XR domain. It’s a journey that long-time readers and followers have witnessed and can appreciate.

**Meta Quest 3: The Biggest Announcement**
Undoubtedly, the most notable announcement from Connect 2023 was the introduction and imminent release of Meta’s latest headset, Quest 3. This article provides a detailed account of the announcement and specifications, along with a hands-on preview of the headset. The Quest 3 represents a significant improvement in terms of hardware compared to its predecessor, Quest 2, but software limitations still persist.

**The Dissolution of Oculus and the Rise of Meta**
With the launch of Quest 3, Oculus, the VR startup that Facebook acquired in 2014 to pave its way into XR, is now completely dissolved. Meta, the new name for Facebook’s XR ventures, has left behind the Oculus brand. The article delves into the implications of this rebranding and the significance of Quest 3 as Meta’s flagship headset.

**Quest 3 vs. Apple’s Vision Pro**
During Connect 2023, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg referred to Quest 3 as the “first mainstream mixed reality headset,” emphasizing its accessibility compared to Apple’s upcoming Vision Pro, which carries a significantly higher price tag. The article explores the strategic positioning of Quest 3 against Vision Pro, highlighting the accessibility factor and the potential impact on the XR market.

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**Mixed Reality Marketing**
Meta is actively promoting the mixed reality capabilities of Quest 3, but the article acknowledges the lack of a killer app for this feature. While the introduction of the technology may pave the way for groundbreaking applications, developers and customers are effectively acting as beta testers. The article explores the pros and cons of this approach and discusses the potential diversion of developer resources from improving the existing VR content ecosystem.

**The Promise and Challenges of Mixed Reality**
The enhanced mixed reality capabilities of Quest 3 carry immense potential for improving the overall user experience (UX). However, the article expresses concern about the heavy marketing and potential distraction caused by this feature. It highlights the importance of a seamless transition between immersive experiences and reality, drawing a comparison with Apple’s established default passthrough mode.

**Augments vs. Volumes: Responding to Apple**
Meta’s Connect 2023 announcements also included the introduction of “Augments” – applets that users can place in fixed positions in their homes within mixed reality. This strategic move aligns with Apple’s concept of “Volumes,” and the article explores how Meta is tightening its focus in response to the impending competition. The timetable for Augments’ availability is discussed in relation to Apple’s Vision Pro launch.

**Microgestures: Responding to Apple’s Pinching Gestures**
Meta’s response to Apple’s subtle pinching gestures for input control was the announcement of its own system for detecting “microgestures.” The article highlights the similarities and differences between Apple and Meta’s approaches, asserting that despite neither company inventing this input modality, Meta’s urgency is clearly a response to what Apple is bringing to market.

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**Leg Estimation and Inside-Out Body Tracking**
Connect 2023 showcased Meta’s efforts to further enhance its avatar models. The article dives into Meta’s inclusion of leg estimation, thereby addressing the criticism of legless avatars. Through the introduction of “generative legs,” developers gain access to a system that estimates realistic leg movements based on upper body tracking. The challenges and limitations of this system are also discussed. Furthermore, Meta’s adoption of inside-out body tracking (IOBT) is examined, emphasizing how this development allows for more natural and precise avatar poses by tracking wrist, elbow, shoulder, and torso positions.

**Implications for the Quest Store**
Meta revealed the latest revenue milestone for the Quest store during Connect 2023. The article highlights the achievement of surpassing $2 billion in spending on games and apps, with Meta pocketing $600 million and developers receiving $1.4 billion. However, it notes a recent slowdown in revenue momentum, attributing it to various factors such as Quest 2’s age, the announcement of Quest 3, content expectations, and ongoing UX issues. The article poses the question of whether Quest 3 can replicate the success of its predecessor in terms of holiday sales.

**Conclusion**
As Meta Connect 2023 concludes, the XR industry stands at an exciting turning point. The article provides an overview of the major announcements and their implications for the future. While highlighting the advancements in hardware and mixed reality capabilities, it also acknowledges the challenges and competition posed by Apple. As Meta continues to push the boundaries of XR, the article emphasizes the importance of delivering on the promises and addressing the existing needs of developers and users in order to drive the industry forward.

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Written by Colin Cassidy

A game developer turned writer, Colin insights into the world of indie game creation have inspired many. His memoir, "Code to Canvas", recounts his journey from coding to storytelling.

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