This has been a major week for those interested in virtual reality and augmented reality. Just two days after HTC and Microsoft delivered a one-two punch by announcing that both Vive and HoloLens pre-orders are live as of Monday, lesser-known Meta announced it too is entering the mix with an augmented reality development kit of its own.
Though the specs differ between the headsets, what many will notice way before that are the price points for each.
Microsoft's HoloLens is the priciest of the three, at $3,000, while HTC's Vive occupies the other end of the spectrum, priced at $799. Meta's Meta 2 takes the middle route and is priced at $949. However, while the other two will begin shipping in the coming months, Meta's AR headset won't start its rounds until the third quarter of this year.
The Meta 2 claims to provide a 90 degree (diagonal) field of view for its semi-transparent AR glasses, smaller than Vive's 110 degree fov, but still surpasses the HoloLens. In addition, its projected display has a 2560x1440 resolution
One thing that truly sets the Meta 2 apart is its implementation. While the HoloLens, for example, is self-contained and capable of running applications independent from a PC, the Meta 2 is a "tethered" device that requires a Windows 8 or 10 PC to be connected to run - which partially explains why Meta is pricing its headset at less than a third of Microsoft's.
Other features that the Meta 2 possesses include:
• Sensor array for hand interactions and positional tracking
• 1280x720-pixel front-facing camera
• 4 speaker near-ear audio system
• App development via the Unity 3D graphics engine
Overall, Meta 2 seeks to use its AR capabilities to create a futuristic version of a computer desktop interface, as evidenced by last month's demonstration at the TED conference when Meta CEO Meron Gribetz showed himself using the headset to engage in standard computing tasks, like Google Docs.
Many have lauded the development of Meta 2, as well as AR Headsets as a whole, as a step forward especially when comapred to the wearable tech from a few years ago. However, with price points of up to $3000, they still beg the question of whether there will be a limit on how many high-end VR and AR headsets developers and consumers can afford.
Check out a clip of the Meta 2 unveiling at the TED 2016 conference below: