Meta has acquired Luxexcel, which makes prescription lenses that can be used in smart glasses and, potentially, the highly anticipated Meta Quest 3.
Luxexcel says its technology “replaces around 30 process steps” in creating the lenses, by 3D printing them.
Lenses are formed using many tiny droplets of acrylate monomers, which are ultimately formed into a hard plastic lens. Luxexcell calls this material VisionClear.
While Luxecel’s own demo images of the technology suggest its use in more conventional-looking smart glasses, it could come in very handy in the Meta Quest 3 – an anticipated VR headset.
Currently, eyeglass wearers who want to use a Meta Quest 2 must either hope there is enough space inside or use Meta’s spacer insert. It just pushes the headset a bit further away from your face.
Meta officially endorses Virtuclear’s lens module inserts, which were – according to the Frames Direct website – “designed in partnership with Oculus”, but now Meta actually owns a company that can do the job.
The next step for the Meta Quest series, beyond the revised hardware, could be an option to order the headset with additional prescription lenses at point of purchase.
Meta’s Quest 3 is expected to be unveiled in late 2023 and will likely use pancake lenses and pass-through color cameras. These are the clearest upgrades that could still fit in a relatively affordable headset, and are already in the rival Pico 4 headset.
Pancake lenses offer better optical quality than the Fresnel design used in the Quest 2, and color passthrough cameras are essential for augmented reality applications.
If you’ve used a Meta Quest 2, you’ll have noticed that it only offers a black and white view of the outside world, visible when setting the room boundaries.
Meta also plans to release its first pair of augmented reality glasses in 2024. Dubbed Project Nazare, this pair will likely project images into transparent or translucent glasses.
Google handled a basic form of this concept in 2013 with Google Glass, which used a prism projector to project images onto the wearer’s vision.
To date, Meta has only slightly primed the public for this type of technology, with the Ray-Ban Stories eyewear. These incorporate speakers, microphones and two 5MP cameras, one for photos, another for video. They can listen to music, take calls and share captured images on Facebook, but don’t have their display down.
The latest iteration of Snap Inc.’s AR glasses has such a display but, unlike the Ray-Ban Stories, can also look rather off-putting to many people.
Meta CTO Mark Bosworth announced that the company plans to release multiple devices in 2023, which likely means the Meta Quest 3 and potentially other headsets.
Games industry legend John Carmack recently resigned from his role at Meta, citing inefficiencies within the company and a sense of not being able to have enough of an impact on its direction.