It’s Wednesday, 12 October, 2022 in Portland, Oregon and we’re forecast to hit 80f (26-and-two-thirds celsius) this afternoon.
Weatherspark says, I think, that the average temperature at 4pm in Portland is more like between 55-65f, so I can’t quite figure out whether this means our winter is going to be mild/warm, or freaking cold/snow/ice everywhere. I’m kind of tending toward the latter, but honestly that’s just based on vibes.
I have a Steam Deck that is supposed to be arriving today, so that’s not distracting at all.
On with the show!
So I guess the embargo dropped on the $1,500 Meta Quest Pro123, and without having properly read or looked at coverage at the device, one thing in particular caught my attention:
It’s big and it’s bulky.
In other words, if things go well and optics, physics and mass manufacturing are accommodating, the form factor is going to noticeably slim down, to get to the platonic ideal of “some glasses you put on”; I’m not even going to jump to the “contact lenses” or “‘jacking into the optic nerve” parts, it is silly (i.e. unproductive at this stage) to go there.
This stuff isn’t like the iPhone, whose form factor hasn’t changed appreciably since its debut: it’s gotten a bit bigger (to my dismay), but it’s still roughly as thin as it was, still roughly as big as it was, diagonal-wise. We’re lucky we don’t have to talk about phablets anymore.
But instead I think about the iPod, which did have a bunch of form factor experimentation brought about by improvement in technology. Originally possible because a 1.8in hard drive was looking for a problem to solve and I think Tony Fadell figured out what to put it in, the iPod ended up using a bunch of flash memory (too expensive, not enough storage space and, I guess, lame, when the original iPod debuted), getting taller, thinner, squarer and so on as display technology and storage technology improved.
I’m trying to think of consumer electronics examples from over the last 30 years that have changed so much, or slimmed down so much in a particular category. I suppose videogame consoles have gotten a lot smaller, but those are intra-generation as opposed to from generation to generation – the PS5 and Xbox One X is back to being chonky mainly, again, because physics and manufacturing capability are having a fight with thermodynamics.
(Mobile) phones don’t count in my thinking here because they’re intra-category slimming down, or rather, the candybar/smartphone form factor already existed and was pretty stable.
So then, I think, one of the questions is (as ever) how long it’s going to take VR/AR gear to get to the lightweight glasses stage, because it clearly hasn’t reached maturity or, I don’t know, some sort of je ne sais quois platonic ideal of form. I got sidetracked while talking about Sony yesterday into a thread with Adam Rogers about a Sony Walkman he had in 1990 that was “barely bigger than the cassette tapes it played” (I managed to find a photo, it was most likely the WM-701C, in a very Sony example of Sony naming things), but anyway the point here is it took about 19 years to go from the introduction of the Walkman to this “barely bigger than the cassette tape” ideal.
So we’ve probably got another ten years to go, and things might get fun between now and then. The question then is how light, how wearable, would VR/AR have to be, independent of quality and whether there’s anything there there, for it to achieve mass adoption, the sort of fits in your pocket equivalent, or the is a pair of glasses equivalent.
There’s a thing that happens where some rightwing piece of shit tweets something and then we (I assume you are, broadly, of like mind as myself) gather around and laugh at whoever has confused some word for some other word and made some sort of embarrassing typo.
If one were to credit people and have the good graces to assume that they’re not that unaware (i.e. spellcheck exists) and so on, and give them what they’re do [sic], then one might think these typos and mistakes are done intentionally in order to garner attention and thus hit the Trending Algorithm or whatever, and a nice feedback loop, ensuring that if you were caught in the blast radius of an opportune typo, you might even spend the rest of the day angry instead of potentially being able to use that energy for, I don’t know, more useful things.
Which is to say, the existence of the spellchecker and grammar checker for correct or accurate spelling at least raises the possibility that you’d break the rules and create a attention checker, one which would suggest typos that would garner the most attention, or even if you (sigh) threw whatever ML or stats at it, would even suggest conceptual misunderstandings and misspellings that would inflame your targeted audience of outrage.
In other words, a Clippy who says:
It looks like you’re writing a political tweet! Would you like to piss some people off?
and then there’d be, I don’t know, a little American Flag emoji next to words you could substitute for Maximum Owning The Libs.
Look, I don’t like being able to think this stuff up, either.
Okay, that’s it for today!
How are you doing?
Meta Quest Pro VR headset for the enterprise debuts October 25 at $1,500, Dean Takahashi, GamesBeat, 11 October, 2022 ↩
The Meta Quest Pro is a cutting-edge headset looking for an audience, Adi Robertson, The Verge, 11 October, 2022; ↩
Meta unveils high-end Quest Pro VR headset, Ina Fried, Axios, 11 October, 2022 ↩
The Peripheral Season 1 - Official Trailer, Amazon Prime Video ↩
The Peripheral, Wikipedia ↩
Robots Are Helping Immunocompromised Kids ‘Go to School’ (archive.ph), Gillian Okimoto, Wired, October 11, 2022 ↩
Russian Hackers Shut Down US State Government Websites, Dark Reading Staff, Datacenter Knowledge, October 10, 2022 ↩