With last week’s announcement that the Varjo Reality Cloud had exited beta and is now in full release, we basically have two metaverse camps: Meta’s, which is focused on the consumer and revenue and is defined by performance limitations associated with its wireless Oculus headset; and the Varjo-Nvidia approach where performance is king, business is the primary focus, and the result is far closer to the Star Trek Holodeck goal that is anticipated to be the eventual metaverse photorealistic experience the market has been primed to want.
Let’s talk about that dynamic this week. Then we’ll close with my product of the week — the Dell Precision 7770 — a mobile workstation which could be used to create the higher-end metaverse and ticks all the boxes for an engineer working either remotely or in hybrid mode predominantly using a borrowed desk or huddle room when in the office.
Meta often seems to be mainly focused on making what appeared to be a bad decision by its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg look good. In this case, there was an internal dispute between Zuckerberg and how the company’s metaverse effort will play out. Prior leadership wants to focus on high quality, while Zuckerberg wants to focus on affordability — which is kind of ironic given how rich the guy is.
Generally, and we’ve seen this repeatedly in the tech market, particularly with VR efforts, the best path is the path that Microsoft took with its AR solution, the HoloLens. First, focus on getting the product right and provide it to businesses that can afford the extra cost. Then cost-reduce the effort and eventually (HoloLens clearly hasn’t entered this phase yet) reduce the cost so the price is palatable to a broader and increasingly consumer-focused market.
Meta’s Oculus headset has a decently priced consumer solution which is fine for a lot of games, but when it comes to rendering the metaverse, the quality of the result looks cartoony and well off from the photorealistic goals for the virtual reality segment and current audience. In short, the Oculus headset, while impressive, doesn’t have the performance to create the level of VR needed for immersion, and immersion is what people are looking forward to with the metaverse.
One very troubling aspect of Meta’s approach appears to be overcharging developers for their metaverse implementation in exchange for the privilege of operating on the platform. This is all about getting critical mass in developers. Starting out with the impression that they are overcharging will undoubtedly motivate developers to find another, lower-cost platform on which to sell their solutions.
Varjo and Nvidia
These two companies aren’t in competition. Varjo makes what appears to be the best professional grade VR headset in the market. Nvidia’s metaverse effort, which largely surrounds its Omniverse tool set, is aggressively closing the gap on photorealistic experiences.
The Varjo cloud and Nvidia’s cloud resources also engage and use developers to assure there is ample content and both users and developers can gain access to that content as needed. In contrast to Meta, Nvidia and Varjo appear to be more about providing access at this phase than trying to milk every penny out of the people they want to develop on their respective platforms.
In contrast to Meta, both Varjo and Nvidia have showcased avatars and images that are nearly indistinguishable from reality with one exception: Varjo’s human looking avatars don’t yet have the ability to show emotion.