The VR world has quietened down as of late. Gamers fortunate enough to own eye-wateringly powerful PCs and high-end headsets from the likes of Valve and HTC are quietly escaping this shoddy reality in the comfort of their homemade Holodecks. Jealous? Us?
Facebook’s Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 is still widely regarded to offer the best bang for buck when it comes to opening the gates to wireless, affordable mainstream VR experiences – even if it’s lacking in power compared to more expensive rivals. There’s been little to report since its October 2020 release date. Well, apart from an upcoming, new super-powered headset, that is.
Dubbed Oculus Quest Pro by the masses, Meta’s mysterious handset was confirmed by Mr. Zuckerberg himself at Meta’s Connect conference in October 2021. Details were scarce, but we do know that it will be a high-end, advanced wireless offering that will almost certainly be considerably dearer than the current Quest 2, delivering both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) smarts.
Internally referred to by Meta as Project Cambria, this is everything we know about the tantalising VR headset so far…
Oculus Quest Pro (Project Cambria) price and release date
From what Meta has stated, we’re still looking at a 2022 release date for the Project Cambria headset, but there’s no hint at when we can expect more information. The Quest 2 (pictured above) launched in October 2020, so Halloween month is as good a guess as any right now.
As for its price, you can kiss the Quest 2’s £299.99 bargain price range goodbye. It’s officially been shared that Project Cambria is a high-end headset at the higher end of the price spectrum, and a roadmap leaked by The Information suggests an RRP of around £640. That’s a fair bit higher than the standalone £459 Valve Index, but we’re not sure if it includes controllers and extra equipment. Once the Index is kitted out with base stations and controllers, it’ll set you back £919, so there’s a chance Meta could throw in more for less.
Oculus Quest Pro (Project Cambria) design and controllers
Official glimpses of Project Cambria have only teased us with a basic ski goggle-like design. Our best potential look at what the final product might look like though, comes courtesy of tech tipster Brad Lynch, who shared renders created based on leaked info from the supply chain. He’s “250%” confident that these renders are accurate, and we have to say, they do match up with the teasing glimpses Meta has shared so far.
If accurate, then it appears to be a rather attractive bit of kit (with, interestingly, some front-facing cameras for presumable AR tricks), though we’ll have to reserve our full judgment to see if it’s as comfortable as it looks.
Other data miners have created 3D renders of what they believe the final headset will look like, complete with some controllers thrown in for good measure. The latter, by the way, is based on shots of controllers leaked via a MEta video call. While resembling the Quest 2’s controllers, the ring is gone, and there appear to be infrared tracking cameras built-in for more advanced virtual hand movements — possibly used in conjunction with the headset’s external cameras.
Oculus Quest Pro (Project Cambria) power, and specs
The general understanding is that Project Cambria will have around the same power as some of the most powerful Chromebooks. With that as a blueprint, we could see specs in the range of at least 8GB of RAM, and (hopefully) at least 256GB of storage for games and apps, though some of it will be used up by Meta’s own Android-based OS.
Qualcomm has yet to release a successor to the Quest 2’s Snapdragon XR2 processor, so we could instead see Meta do something Similar to Google and its Tensor chip, by releasing its own homegrown CPU hardware. Given that it’s a standalone headset that will run without a PC, it’ll need to be a pretty beefy chip if Meta wants to serve up a truly impressive, wireless experience.
As for the business end, we’ve seen one analyst predict dual mini LED displays, which have proven to be very useful in TVs as they provide more control over brightness and produce noticeably better images. In other words, we could potentially see OLED-rivalling blacks with increased brightness, at a buttery-smooth 120Hz refresh rate to boot. Their thinner design should also result in a thinner, lighter headset, that runs less hot in the process.
Those previously mentioned front-facing cameras will likely be used as a video passthrough for safety measures and the initial setup process, while also unlocking AR possibilities by layering virtual objects into a real-world view. A preview video shared by Meta shows someone viewing a physical keyboard while typing through the headset, which is just one of many useful examples.
Lastly, we could see internal cameras for eye and face tracking tricks. Not only could these let your virtual avatar’s faces match your expressions for more immersive and personal experiences, but the eye-tracking feature also suggests foveated rendering — a clever trick which focuses on rendering only the areas you’re directly looking at, for a smoother, less power-hungry experience.
Oculus Quest Pro (Project Cambria) initial verdict
We’ll admit, there’s a lot more speculation than fact. But from what we’ve heard, and what seems likely, Project Cambria sounds like it could bring powerful VR and AR experiences to the masses. Yes, it’ll be expensive, but if it delivers a PC-like experience without the need to fork out hun dreads for an actual PC, it could be game-changing. Maybe.
That doesn’t leave the Quest 3 out of the picture either though. Zuckerberg has already stated that Meta teams are looking at future versions of the Quest 3 and even Quest 4, and consulting CTO John Carmack has also gone on record saying that the Quest 2 is not being replaced by Project Cambria.
That’s everything we know right now, but we’ll be sure to keep this article updated with more news as and when we get it.