Facebook unveiled a new experimental concept of reverse VR realization that shows the eyes of users wearing virtual reality headsets in the outside world and aims to reshape the social connection between the real and the virtual world.
Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) will present the new concept of “social co-presence” while in virtual reality at the SIGGRAPH 2021 event taking place this August. The research team’s blog post gives us a look at the development so far and is giving science fiction vibes similar to The 6th Day.
The reverse passsthrough VR prototype works in contrast to what Oculus Quest can do with Passthrough +, which uses external cameras to help users with VR headsets see their real-world environment. Instead of an external environment, the prototype shows its eyes to the outside world.
Using microlens array light field screens, a floating 3D image shows the user’s eyes “showing the right perspective for various external readers”. This means that the images change perfectly, so that no matter where someone is looking at the user, the light field screen will offer a natural looking image of the user’s eyes.
Facebook wants social co-presence in virtual reality
FRL aims to make VR headsets “compact, lightweight and wearable all day long; combining high-quality virtual images with high-quality real-world images.” With the team’s ultimate goal of making RV users “socially present with anyone in the world,” this gives us a good indication of what we can expect from their upcoming Ray-Ban smart glasses.
According to the message, however, the virtual reality prototype doesn’t even come close to a product roadmap; the visual and facial features still don’t feel realistic and the current headphones are full of cables. Leading research scientist Nathan Matsuda said he thought a first prototype of the technology was “a kind of ridiculous idea.”
Now, 3D technology has evolved to be able to capture and represent more realistic 3D faces, thanks to specifically designed optics and a variety of support technologies. It seems like the reverse RV has long been used in consumer products, but now we have a look at what Facebook intends to bring to the RV.
Other tech giants like Apple are also studying the future of VR technology, with the rumored Cupertino company developing a mixed-reality VR headset and Apple. For now, Facebook dominates with its popular Oculus Quest 2 VR headphones, which are about to get a big update in August.