Mark Zuckerberg on the Future of AR and VR | The Information’s 411Podcast

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Key Takeaways

  • Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) will elevate social experiences to a new level
    • Mark Zuckerberg sees VR and AR as the future of social experiences and of computing platforms
  • “If you can deliver a computing platform that is fundamentally more human and about creating natural interactions between people, that’s the dream that we’ve been chasing for a long time” Mark Zuckerberg
  • The pandemic accelerated the adoption of VR, which in turns stimulated the development
    • As more people use VR, it makes more sense for developers to build for it
  • One of Facebook’s core principles is serving everyone
    • Revenues from the App Store could help make VR products more accessible
  • In 2019, Facebook acquired CTRL-Labs to deepen its work on non-invasive neural interfaces
    • Their focus is on our body’s extra capacity of motor neuron
    • In the long term, this might allow us to act as if we had a third virtual hand typing on a keyboard

Key Products Mentioned

Intro

  • Mark Zuckerberg is the founder and CEO of Facebook
  • Host: Alex Heath (@alexeheath) and Mathew Olson (@mathewolson)
  • In this chat, Mark discusses why Facebook is investing so heavily in AR and VR technologies and what the future might look like

Why Facebook Cares so Much About AR and VR

  • Facebook is a social company
    • It aims to help people interact with each other in different ways
      • Text, videos, photos
  • AR and VR will elevate social experiences to a new level
    • They make you feel like you are with another person
  • This is why it makes sense for Facebook to invest so much in these technologies
  • Mark sees VR and AR as the future of social experiences and of computing platforms
    • It will start picking up in the 2020s but it may not reach its full scale until the 2030s
  • “If you can deliver a computing platform that is fundamentally more human and about creating natural interactions between people, that’s the dream that we’ve been chasing for a long time” Mark Zuckerberg
  • It will create a much better future
    • You’ll feel like you are there with the other person
  • You can interact with virtual objects, play games, and much more
  • The more that we can “teleport” around the less we have to physically travel
    • This has a positive impact on the planet

Is the Time Ripe for VR and AR?

  • Mark sees Oculus Quest 2 becoming the first mainstream VR product
    • It is lighter, faster, and more affordable than previous versions
  • Developer ecosystem is starting to get developed
  • The pandemic accelerated the adoption of VR, which in turns stimulated the development
    • As more people use VR, it makes more sense for developers to build for it
  • When acquiring Oculus, Mark knew that VR would be easier to build than AR
    • He sees VR and AR as an extension of each other
    • Having built the VR environment and experiences will be important by the time good AR technology is developed

Hurdles in Development of VR and AR

  • Heat dissipation is one major issue that they are working on
    • PC and mobiles getting hot after a while are usually not a problem
      • For devices you wear on your head, this becomes really important
    • More sensors in the device improve the experience, but also increase the heat
  • Creating realistic 3-D renderings of people is really difficult
    • Mark wants to get to the point of people being able to have a true “eye-contact” experience on VR
    • This requires heavy investments in machine learning to create those realistic “avatars”
  • The vividness of screens is still way duller than that of our eyes

Spatial Audio and Applications in Virtual Meetings

  • In Zoom calls, you don’t have a sense of space
    • All sound comes from your PC
    • People are spread in a grid
    • Several Zoom callsign a day  get mixed up as they feel so similar
  • Sensing where sounds come from (spatial audio) is critical in how we process our experiences
    • With VR you can have meetings in a circle that more realistically resemble a real gathering
    • You’ll be able to better process the information and recall more from the meeting

Neural Interfaces

  • Elon Musk’s invasive approach may be intimidating to most people
    • It might be a better fit for dealing with brain damage and injuries
  • In 2019, Facebook acquired CTRL-Labs to deepen its work on non-invasive neural interfaces
    • Their focus is on our body’s extra capacity of motor neurons
      • These neurons send signals from our brain to move our body
    • Our extra motor neurons can be adapted to control different things
      • Examples are a virtual joystick or keyboard
    • In the long term, this might allow us to act as if we had a third virtual hand typing on a keyboard

Facebook’s Multiple Focus Areas

  • Product teams are working on several future generations of VR and AR technology
    • Because of how hardware is developed, you have to know, what the future products look like
    • With software, you can continuously make small incremental improvements
  • Eye-tracking and face tracking technology are important to improve the sense of being in someone’s presence
  • Facebook is working with Ray-ban to create the first pair of smart glasses
  • It is important to start creating the environment for developers to build on top of these technologies
    • It will release its first product this year
  • Facebook is also working on building its own operating system for AR and mobile
    • This allows to specifically design the OS with AR in mind
    • It will free Facebook for the limitations imposed by the Apple or Google Store

Facebook’s VR & AR Monetization Plans

  • Mark says that the main reason for investing in VR and AR is to eventually allow people to “teleport” around
  • One of Facebook’s core principles is serving everyone
    • Revenues from the App Store could help make VR products more accessible
    • This business model has been proven to work in the past
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Notes By Giorgio Parlato

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