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What is "Mixed Reality"? And what makes Meta's new Meta Quest Pro so groundbreaking?

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A movie screen on the wall warps into an oval. This is a new cinematic technology unlocked by watching TV through smart glasses. Large families across the country sit in living rooms as holographic “avatars.”

If you glance to the side, you see the persona of Aunt Dennis. A jolly and funny woman, Dennis looks like a fearsome orc. Lord of the RingShe protested and chose that avatar because it was the movie she wanted to see.

The monster’s gray, vein-like, clawed hand reaches out, and after a second delay, a cup of ramen appears in her hand, loading into her form as she interacts with it.

One of your cousins ​​pings the chat box to join and the group invites him to join.

He apologizes for being late. your father asks go to work from work? My cat was standing in front of the sofa today and it was a terrible traffic jam for me too. “Your cousin is one of the few Americans who goes to his office in person. Mom says, “How are you? How is your new job?”

Dennis groans and his cousin freaks out when he sees her giant avatar. “Pause the movie if you’re going to fly a drone with everyone!”

This short story of a family gathering represents what Meta and other companies envision for the future of technology. The ultimate goal of these businesses includes not only virtual reality (VR), but also “mixed reality” or augmented reality (AR).

Meta tries to spark enthusiasm for the “Metaverse”, but ultimately wants to combine physical and virtual reality.As long as people wear the right AR glasses, holograms Star Wars It becomes routine.

But is this really the future? Or is this vision he’s a trillion dollar pipe dream?

What is Mixed Reality?

Mixed reality allows users to see the real world with virtual images applied through their headsets. For now, Meta leads the way in what consumers can (relatively) access to augmented reality. The company’s virtual reality headsets focus on the Metaverse, but last week it released its current-generation headset that uses mixed reality, the Meta Quest Pro, for pre-order.

Meta Quest Pro is $1500

Meta Quest Pro reviewers who tried the product in the demo gave mixed reviews.

According to Jeffrey A. Fowler, Meta’s goal of using mixed reality to “enable more people to communicate, work and create” has “never felt so far away.” washington postCNET’s Scott Stein said, “We’ve found it to be amazingly effective” in some areas. Sherri Smith of LaptopMag writes: [mixed reality]”

But everyone, even Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, pretty much admits the product is a stepping stone.

It has received a fair amount of criticism for its short battery life and high price tag, but its breakthrough feature is face tracking.

Meta Quest Pro face tracking

Perhaps the biggest improvement in user-to-user interaction is a new face camera that tracks facial expressions and applies them to virtual avatars in real time. This includes eye tracking. The technology needs improvement, but it’s a leap forward above anything else in the accessible field. The Quest Pro headset tracks mouth movements, eyebrows, eye movements, grins, puffy cheeks, and everything big enough to handle (aside from sticking out your tongue).

This allows people to make eye contact and communicate non-verbally. This is an essential stepping stone to feeling the presence of others.

There are other applications. Mixed reality may one day replace our need for TV screens because it can place screens in the air anywhere in our field of vision.In one of the demos, from one laptop he could Three giant hologram computer monitors were displayed. The “screen” was hanging in the air.

Meta has also partnered with Microsoft to bring virtual business meetings to Microsoft Teams. We want to offer a holographic mixed reality experience as an alternative to 2D meetings like Zoom.

Most reviews have focused on the impressive new specs, which I’ll leave this off the list.

Meta Quest Pro Privacy Concerns

While many have complained about discomfort, impracticality, or the lingering “uncanny valley”, everyone seems to be primarily concerned with privacy issues. Who would trust a company that makes money by selling your personal data on your face and every expression?

According to Meta, the data is stored locally on the headset and deleted afterwards. But what about how apps use data?

Meta is already experimenting with ads using face tracking. By measuring non-verbal responses, you’ll be able to measure the success of your advertising. So in the future, it might track whether you’re smiling at a cheesy insurance commercial, or track your eyes to see if you’re distracted. It also seems like it could be made to hold more information. This allows you to “personalize” your experience.

One expert said, “Literally, when a person can see an ad for a watch, glance at it for 10 seconds, smile, and consider whether they can afford it, they are more informed than ever. We will be able to provide it,” he said.

For now, Meta guarantees it will never get the raw data of your face. Face tracking is off by default when you get the headset.

The future of mixed reality

The technology is so close to the early stages of development that predictions are guesswork. Mark Zuckerberg may not be a particularly friendly and sociable person, but he’s no fool. Meta’s calculated bet in the Metaverse may pay off in 5 to 10 years. But they will continue to pour billions of dollars into the sector for some time to come.

We offer one relevant piece of information about Meta’s potential for future success. If you want to make mixed reality glasses more powerful than Meta Quest Pro, you’ll need far more computing power. And we will soon hit the physical limits of how small a processor can be (the smallest current transistor is about twice the size of an atom). Computers can’t keep shrinking forever.

As such, we will probably never have high-definition, real-time virtual reality that is indistinguishable from the physical world.Unless we make a breakthrough in quantum computing, it probably won’t happen ready player one.

In the early days of mixed reality technology, some dismissed it as useless, simplistic, and doomed to failure. Others believe that it is a rapidly advancing frontier that will fundamentally change the human experience.

I don’t pretend to make predictions, but given the possibilities of this future, we should pause and consider the trade-offs of incorporating this realized sci-fi into our future lives. there is.

monitor the metaverse

I wrote that the porn industry is pushing the development of the virtual reality space. Pornography is ubiquitous in America, but Japan has a particularly serious problem with it. There appeared an almost culture-specific phenomenon called . HikikomoriThe term refers to the vast majority of young Japanese men who are overwhelmed with shame and anxiety, can hardly leave their homes, and have no job. To their credit, their parents usually feed them financially for decades.of Hikikomori Often immersed in video games.

There are many complex reasons for the increase in social isolation. But basically, technology probably makes it worse. This works in tandem with the progress of the metaverse. Those who already have social issues may easily become addicted to the new VR and MR.

I suspect that the leap in VR and MR technology will make society worse overall for the general public, but it’s hard to say because nearly everyone uses it in moderation. It is almost certain to exacerbate loneliness in people with social anxiety disorder.

Looking at it another way, VR and MR can support people in need and act as a bridge to real social connections.

As is often the case, technology is not the root cause of social problems, but it exacerbates them. Technology, both good and bad, is driven by our desires. While most healthy adults can handle social media without succumbing to psychiatric disorders, a portion of the population becomes addicted, with anxiety exacerbated by teens in particular.

Consider all of this in relation to VR and MR. As wise believers, we can decide if it’s something we want to support.