Face Laptop

Mark Zuckerberg plays Pokémon-like AR game using Cambria headset

Mark Zuckerberg showed off one of the big improvements of Meta's next headset: full-color video passthrough.

Mark Zuckerberg / Facebook

Project Cambria, Meta’s next big headset on its journey to create “the metaverse,” is still slated for release later this year. Thanks to a demo shared by Mark Zuckerberg today, we now have a better idea of how it’ll improve on the Quest 2.

Project Cambria uses full-color video passthrough to create mixed reality experiences, layering the graphics you might normally see in VR onto the world around you.

Video passthrough — Zuckerberg’s demo — with the Project Cambria headset bizarrely blurred out — shows what looks like HD video in color. He’s able to interact with a little Pokémon-esque creature (Meta’s The World Beyond app it’s showed off previously) with just his hands, throw a ball that somewhat realistically bounces off the wall, and even plunges himself into a completely virtual experience at will.

Showing you a live feed of the world around you while you’re in VR isn’t at all novel, but doing it in a way that’s actually pleasant to look at is big.

Meta’s presentation doesn’t seem photorealistic. In fact, it reminds me a lot of phone AR demos I’ve seen, but it’s a good illustration of how Meta plans to offer experiences that are like augmented reality, without having consumer-ready AR glasses.

A better Quest — In comparison, the Quest 2 offers a grainy, black-and-white view of the world around you when you have your headset on. It’s so limited Meta mostly uses it as a safety precaution to let you know when you’re about to bump into something or to set up your play space.

Project Cambria seems like a major improvement, and even though Meta is still positioning the headset as a work tool (a “Chromebook for the face” according to people in the know) — Zuckerberg only mentions doing mixed reality yoga classes in passing — the potential for unique game experiences seems to be there.

Meta says developers will be able to try The World Beyond in App Lab soon. Project Cambria will be released later this year. The Information said in its report, the mixed reality headset would start at around $799, but a Meta spokesperson actually clarified and said it’d be more. Do reset your expectations accordingly!