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Meta's AR Development Faces Setbacks as Apple Advances with VisionPro

Meta's augmented reality (AR) project faces delays and possible downgrades, whereas Apple pushes ahead with its VisionPro mixed reality device. Meta's challenges with integrating advanced microLED technology could dampen its hopes of leading the upcoming AR race.

Apple vs Meta

As Meta intensifies its efforts to spearhead the development of the metaverse, its AR glasses project seems to be experiencing some headwinds. According to recent reports, this project, which extends the current offering of Ray Ban Stories glasses, faces potential delays and downgrades.

The Information reports that Meta has encountered challenges with integrating the more advanced microLED technology into its AR heads-up display. Meta's acquisition of microLED leader Plessey in 2020 was expected to provide it with a competitive edge in the AR market. However, difficulties integrating Plessey's technology have led Meta to switch to lower-spec display elements, similar to those used in other AR wearables.

This change is likely to reduce Meta's competitive advantage in the burgeoning AR market, particularly with Apple progressing with its VisionPro mixed reality device. Although VisionPro is perceived as a lower-spec version of Meta's Quest VR headset, its potential for 'spatial computing' is generating considerable excitement in the industry.

Meta's AR glasses, known internally as 'Orion,' were intended to compete with Apple's offering by providing a more fashionable, everyday wearable that could augment reality with digital enhancements. However, cost overruns and compatibility issues might limit Meta's ability to deliver on this vision, potentially impacting its chances of leading the AR market.

Despite these setbacks, Meta continues to press ahead with its AR project. The company plans to make the first version of its AR glasses available to developers next year and aims to launch commercial AR glasses by 2027.

The question remains whether Meta's offering will measure up to Apple's VisionPro and whether Apple will have cornered the market by the time Meta's product arrives. Meta's recent challenges could prompt a shift in focus towards its broader VR initiatives as it navigates the competitive landscape of the mixed reality market.