Reality Labs

A reflection on 2021, a look ahead to 2022

When I started at the company 16 years ago I was inspired by the clarity of Mark’s vision: use the internet to connect people. As the company evolved, that vision not only still applies but has inspired our most ambitious investment to date — to help build the metaverse, the next frontier of social connection.

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Reality Labs and Meta made real and meaningful progress this year. We had two successful hardware launches back-to-back. We released our smart glasses, Ray-Ban Stories, which showed what is possible when we combine technology and style. And Portal went mobile with the launch of Portal Go, as well as getting a redesigned Portal+.

We are also able to see early glimpses of the metaverse take shape across our work. We launched Horizon Workrooms and opened Horizon Worlds to people ages 18+ in the US and Canada demonstrating the power of VR. Beat Saber surpassed $100M in gross lifetime revenue on the Quest Platform alone, and Resident Evil 4 became the fastest-selling app in the history of Quest based on revenue in the first week of launch. And with Spark AR, we’re cultivating the content, capabilities, and communities that can enrich Facebook experiences and give a preview of the path to AR glasses ahead. We’ve consistently witnessed Portal unite families, friends, and coworkers, and it’s continuing to have a real impact at home and at work.

And who could forget the rebrand to Meta? Never surprise people, right? But in all seriousness, the way we connect people has evolved, so we will continue to see this evolution in our technology offerings.

As we look to the year ahead, our team will continue to design and build responsibly while ensuring privacy, safety, and security are at the forefront of all our work. Some things to anticipate from RL in 2022:

Supporting the journey to a fully functional metaverse

Our team has been working on the foundational elements of our metaverse vision for a while now. From highly realistic avatars to spatial audio and ultra low friction input for AR glasses — these are just a few of the technologies our researchers are building in our labs. In 2022, we’ll continue this mission — and this is an ambitious five- to 10-year vision, so even if it’s not obvious how our work connects to the metaverse today, know that we’re establishing the building blocks to get us there.

Things like Horizon Workrooms and Horizon Worlds bring social VR experiences to life and allow us to deliver on the promise of the metaverse. We’re also building foundations for work use cases in the metaverse, including Work Accounts across several surfaces, and building enterprise-grade support, infra, and security. And we’ll continue to work on making our avatars more realistic and expressive, giving people more options to represent themselves in the metaverse.

Continuity is key, and we need the help and support of developers to continue building this ecosystem. Presence Platform will play a critical role in delivering mixed reality experiences on Quest 2, and with new technologies like color Passthrough on Project Cambria — it paves the way for our developer community to build richer experiences. And we'll continue to unlock the promise of AI as it underpins the technologies powering the metaverse. Advancing our Responsible AI and AI Integrity efforts to create equitable experiences for our users, while keeping them safe, will help us deliver new tools to help mitigate harmful content and bias.

Scaling to businesses

The pandemic led to an increased interest in Workplace and Portal, so we’re bringing together our strengths in software, hardware, and service innovation. We’re looking at how we can build mixed use case solutions to foster meaningful connections at home and build community and equitable collaboration at work. Next year we’ll see the expansion of both Portal for Business and Quest for Business, as well as a number of Workplace launches to support org-wide comms, connecting frontline workers and async collaboration.

What might not be so obvious, though, is that VR isn’t the only entry point into the metaverse. I expect most people will access it initially through a mobile phone or PC, but Portal also plays a role here. We’ve talked about interoperability before, but as we build towards a fully functional metaverse, this is our opportunity to offer Portal and Workplace as well as our integrated partners as proof points to support this vision.

The future is hands-free

Many of the devices we have today are designed around their limitations, not people. When I want to capture moments with my family, I’m scrambling for my phone and likely to either miss the moment or catch some sideways view that isn’t helpful. Ray-Ban Stories showed us how in the moment you really can be, and this is a vision we will continue to prioritize and iterate on. I truly believe the future is hands-free and we’ll see this with the advancement of Ray-Ban Stories and other technologies. Our latest release, which added hands-free calling and messaging with Messenger, and the option to adjust volume with a voice command, is just a hint of where we’re going. When done right, voice is a low-friction, natural way to unlock utility without breaking stride. It’s one modal we have to get right on the road to AR glasses — and the progress is real.

Pushing VR technology toward general compute

We witnessed some major software updates last year that continued to enhance the consumer experience on Quest 2, and we even gave a sneak peek into our next-generation all-in-one VR hardware, Project Cambria, launching next year, as well as some of our early research on retina resolution VR displays (more to come on that!). More people are in VR now than ever before, and we want to give them the opportunity to have fun with friends, work and brainstorm with colleagues, play games, and feel connected. We’re already doing this with Quest 2, and next year we’ll push the state of the art forward while opening up new use cases through the advanced technology and learnings from Quest 2 that will take shape in Cambria. It will not be a replacement for Quest 2, but it will be another step closer to the metaverse — and it will represent forward progress on VR’s path toward becoming a general computing platform.

All of this work is critical, yet it’s also a massive undertaking — and none of it is possible without the help of our developers and our teams who build together across open platforms. As we continue to work side-by-side, and whether that means remotely or in the lab together, we need to remember that our strengths will elevate us to new levels. We can achieve the impossible, together.

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Reality Labs

Reality Labs brings together a world-class team of researchers, developers, and engineers to build the future of connection within virtual and augmented reality.