On September 27th and 28th, Meta will host its annual Connect XR developer conference. The annual event always attracts considerable attention; however, the last three events have all been digital.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Meta’s Connect conference has not had an in-person presence. But this year, the company will take their virtual event back into the real world and it will take place at Meta’s HQ in Menlo Park, California.
Prior to COVID, the Connect events were hosted at external venues like Los Angeles’ Loews Hollywood Hotel, or Sane Jose’s McEnery Convention Center.
Of course, registration for the in-person Connect conference is limited. Those lucky enough to get in will have access to the networking events and demos. Let’s take a look at what may be in store at this year’s Meta Connect.
What Is Meta Connect?
Meta Connect is an annual event focusing on XR development. The event was started by Occulus in 2014 as an opportunity for developers to get together, network, look at new technology, and see how they’re work could fit into the industry’s development.
The first six events were held in person, while the last three have been online. While this year’s event returns to the real world, some are asking why Meta don’t host the event within the metaverse. That said, real-world events offer lots of fringe opportunities that VR cannot.
This year’s Connect event comes ahead of the launch of the Meta Quest 3. So, what better time to experience the much-anticipated headset than through multiple demos at the conference?
While the Quest 3 will likely enjoy considerable attention, the event will also take in-depth looks at other new XR innovations, as well as Meta’s forays into AI. In addition, there will be updates from developers and key updates on the company’s metaverse progress.
More Quest 3 Previews
The Quest 3 is guaranteed to take centre stage at this year’s Connect. Announced right before Apple’s big XR announcement, the Quest 3 is Meta’s newest consumer headset.
Last year’s Quest Pro has already been quietly put to one side, and the Quest 3 looks set to continue in the tradition laid out by the Quest 2. With a pricepoint below $500, the new headset looks set to further solidify Meta’s market lead.
So far, information around the Quest 3 has been scant. Zuckaberg has previously mentioned the headset will have twice the graphics performance due to its Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2+, and will run legacy titles.
More recently, Meta CTO, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth revealed a few vital stats, including that the XR device will have 128GB, a 2 hour battery life, 10–degree field of view, and space for prescription glasses while weighing the same as the Quest 2.
We also now know that the Quest 3 won’t use the same controller designs found in the Quest Pro and Quest 2. The new controllers feature infrared LEDs and will use AI tracking. This improves accuracy while reducing controller size.
This years in-person Connect conference offers developers, key tech journalists, and influencers the opportunity to see and experience the new headset firsthand. Meta will probably still have some Quest 3-related aces to play at the event.
What Will Mark Zuckerberg’s Keynote Speech Include?
Every year, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg presents his Developer State of the Union keynote. This will take place on the first day of the event; however, specific topics are yet to be released.
Two years ago, the keynote address was the launchpad for Meta’s rebranding. Here, Zuckerberg set out his vision for the metaverse future and how he saw the company expanding from social media giants to create a new iteration of the internet.
Two years later, the initial enthusiasm for the metaverse may have waned; however, with several major companies, including Apple, investing heavily in XR, Meta has strived to retain its market position. But with AI gaining considerable traction in recent months, how much of the Connect keynote will focus on Meta’s work and intentions in this area?
In addition to the annual keynote, there will be breakout sessions on topics including AI, VR, XR, and AR.
While all eyes will no doubt be on the Quest 3, Connect 2023 may also be the platform Meta uses to highlight the Horizon rebuild.
This summer, Meta launched Ouro Interactive, their first-party VR game production studio focused on creating immersive experiences for Horizon Worlds. Recently, Ouro released Super Rumble, its first game.
Meta will be keen to focus on the potential Ouro Interactive brings to Meta. The company’s Vice President of Metaverse, Vishal Shah has recently stated that Meta’s “long-term vision remains the same” and talked about how consumers coming to Horizon need compelling content from day one. He also said, “We’re going to seed the ecosystem, bootstrap it with stuff that we build both in-house, but also with some studios that we’re working with.”
According to Shah, Horizon aims to be a “UGC-powered ecosystem, built by creators.” It will be this user-generated content that will grow the platform.
New AI solutions will soon lower entry barriers for new metaverse developers joining the platform.
Shah said Meta is “resetting the bar” on Horizon by launching Ouro Interactive and Super Rumble.
How to Attend Meta Connect
As mentioned, this year’s Connect is an in-person event. However, if you’re not an industry insider, you can still attend online. There’s no need to register for the virtual event, and there’s no charge for online attendance.
All Connect 2023 sessions will be recorded and Meta will make the content available online after the event.