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Meta’s Reality Labs An Interesting Look

Most people have heard that Mark Zuckerberg’s company ‘Meta’ (previously Facebook) is plummeting in value as he pours billions into a VR project called ‘Horizon World’ which is unpopular and highly criticised for it’s cartoony appearance among other things. The project started off with lots of hype and initially hit 300,000 subscribers but then declined. Many people I have spoken to don’t trust the direction that Meta is going. Zuckerberg is a trained ‘Young Global Leader’ and closely associated with the WEF (World Economic Forum) and it’s leader Klaus Schwab who’s dictum “You will own nothing and be happy” has hit a sour note around the world. One could say that Meta’s decline is representative of that sour note.

However, since Zuckerberg purchased a company called Oculus, founded by a fellow called Palmer Luckey in 2014, VR headset development has improved considerable although the Oculus brand has now been dropped and replaced by ‘Meta Quest’. The branch of Meta that is doing the developing is called ‘Reality Labs’ and they are into some interesting stuff, even though it isn’t reflected well in Horizon World.
While the physical world is shaking it’s head at Meta and saying “Nah, having a heavy object like that on my head for hours a day is not my thing,” Reality Labs are putting a lot of time, money and energy into understanding and reproducing visual reality, the world around us.
Reality Labs reportedly has 17,000 employees and the goal of the company is to transform our lives through the use of this reality hardware.

In a recent video Mark Zuckerberg explains how Reality Labs is focused on VR visual fidelity that can mimic the reality we see around us in the physical to the point where we can’t tell the difference and this is achieved through raising the amount of visual resolution that is available to the headset wearer.
He says that 60 degrees of resolution is desirable and that prototypes are now managing 55 degrees of resolution.
Focal depth of vision is another challenge that Reality Labs are pursuing. In the physical world, our eyes adjust to various distances while in the VR world the focal distance is fixed. One way to overcome this is to use a lens autofocus, much like in a camera. This is called a varifocal lens and in a headset, eye-tracking can be used to determine how much to focus the lens. When the varifocal lens was originally tested, participants found that there was less visual fatigue and blurry vision and dizziness.
These mechanical improvements along with better algorithms to increase speed have been the focus of Reality Labs and they are now being used.

Again we get back to the trust issue because the new ‘Meta Quest Pro’ VR headset which costs US $1,500 does have eye and face tracking technology but as is hinted at in the device’s ‘Eye Tracking Privacy Notice.’ The company says it will use eye-tracking data to “help Meta personalise your experiences and improve Meta Quest.”
‘Personalising your experience’ is typical privacy-policy jargon for ‘targeted ads’.
So, although the work that is being done by Reality Labs (top marks for the name) is interesting, one always gets the impression with Meta that they are looking constantly for another meteoric rise up the financial ladder, and possibly once again at the expense of peoples’ privacy.

Watch Mark Zuckerberg talk about his Meta (Reality Labs) vision Here.

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