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Metaverse by Facebook : flop ou révolution encore incomprise ? Tout ce qu'il faut retenir des dernières annonces
Avatar photo-réaliste, contrôler un ordi grâce à un bracelet sans bouger, et autres innovations du lab de Facebook/Meta
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Je m'appelle Thomas, plus d'infos sur moi en bas d'email.
Cette semaine, édition spéciale sur le metaverse de Meta/Facebook !
Alors pourquoi dédier une édition à ce sujet ?
Meta, le groupe qui comprend Facebook, Whatsap, Instagram, investit massivement dans la Réalité Virtuelle. Les résultats ne semblent pas au rendez-vous, mais Mark Zuckerberg s’entête, pourquoi ? Le Metaverse version Meta, flop annoncé, ou début d’une révolution ?
La grande présentation annuelle Connect du 11 octobre dernier était donc l’occasion de faire un état des lieux un poil approfondi, mais toujours au format bullet point !
Plus bas, tout ce qu’il faut savoir sur le sujet, avec pas mal d’éléments de réponse. Et notamment à la fin, un coup d’oeil à ce qui se mijote dans leurs labos pour la suite, passionant !
Mais d’abord, quelques faits et chiffres clefs pour planter le décor, avant de parler des annonces de la conférence
About the previous headset Meta Quest 2 that started selling in October 2020:
Zuckerberg: "Quest 2 is really the first mainstream Virtual Reality device."
around 15 millions devices sold
The Quest 2 accounted for 88% of global VR headset sales in the first half of 2022
Facebook reconnaît en interne que son metaverse n'est pas encore assez attrayant, voici ce que dit leur Metaverse VP, Vishal Shah, à propos d'Horizon Worlds, the free virtual reality app developed by Meta for its VR headsets, qu'il décrit comme “Meta’s universe in the metaverse”:
"We are working on a product that has not found product market fit"
"Everyone in this organization should make it their mission to fall in love with Horizon Worlds. You can’t do that without using it. Get in there. Organize times to do it with your colleagues or friends, in both internal builds but also the public build so you can interact with our community.”
"Why is that? Why don’t we love the product we’ve built so much that we use it all the time? The simple truth is, if we don’t love it, how can we expect our users to love it?”
In February 2022 Meta reported that just 300,000 people had used Horizon Worlds; the firm has said nothing since. (The Economist)
certes, Horizon Worlds est uniquement dispo aux U.S., Canada, U.K., Irlande et Islande et aux 18 ans et plus, mais ça paraît peu vs les 15 millions de casques vendus
Last week, company documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal revealed that Meta initially aimed to reach 500,000 monthly active users in Horizon Worlds by the end of 2022, but the current figure is less than 200,000, according to the report.
Additionally, the documents showed that most users didn’t return to Horizon after the first month on the platform, and the number of users has steadily declined since spring.
Only 9% of worlds in Horizon are visited by at least 50 people, and most are never visited at all, according to the report.
Reality Labs, the company’s metaverse division, has run up losses of $27 billion since its founding in 2020 (Meta at large has around $115 billion in revenues per year)
Mark Zuckerberg told shareholders in May that creating the metaverse will bleed money for 3 to 5 years.
The Meta CEO told the company's annual meeting that some products wouldn't be ready for 15 years.
Meta spent $10 billion on designing its metaverse in 2021 alone.
10,000 employees working on Zuckerberg's vision and it wanted to hire an additional 10,000 to work on the project.
However, those plans are likely to be on hold after Meta imposed a hiring freeze in early May amid anticipation of an economic slowdown.
More recently, to calm investors’ nerves, Meta is reining in its spending a little. It expects its total expenses this year to be about $7.5bn lower than it forecast at the end of last year. It has scrapped some projects, including a smart watch that was in development, and bumped up the price of the Quest 2 headset by $100. And it expects to reduce its headcount.
Mark Zuckerberg on Why VR/MR is important: "The ultimate expression of social technology. The ability to be present and feel like you’re there with another person no matter where you actually are." (The Verge)
If VR and AR do take off like Zuckerberg hopes, it seems he wants to position Meta as the Android to Apple’s iOS.
Michael Abrash, Chief Scientist, Reality Labs, Meta: "One thing I know for sure, avatars that are photo-realistic representation of users will be the most powerful remote connexion technology that has ever existed, they will create genuine social presence in the sense of making you feel at the gut level that your are literally with other people"
Suite aux critiques sur le coût des investissements faits à ce jour dans la réalité virtuelle par Meta et le faible usage à ce jour, réponse de notre Yann LeCun national, Chief AI Scientist at Meta, très remonté : "You can't expect a bunch of investors with a 3-month horizon, a 10-minute attention span, and zero understanding of science and engineering, to understand the value of long-term technological bets and the necessity of investment in R&D to make it succeed, can you? Meta had a net income of $6.68B in Q2 2022 (out of $28.8B revenue), and has about $40B in cash reserve. That's a pretty good position from which to invest in the Next Big Thing."
À votre bon coeur ❤️
Si vous trouvez un intérêt à cette synthèse gratuite, n’hésitez pas à prendre 3 secondes svp pour l’envoyer à ne serait-ce qu’un contact 🙂
Et si on vous a partagé cet email, vous pouvez cliquer ici pour vous inscrire et ne pas manquer les prochains (semaine prochaine, tout ce qu’il faut retenir des annonces de Facebook sur son metaverse + ce qu’ils mijotent à 5-10 ans, assez dingue)
Les 5 grands usages naissants de la Virtual Reality et Mixed Reality (Mixed Reality or MR : ajout d'éléments virtuels à la réalité, le tout perçu via un casque immersif) présentés par Meta
Chatting/socializing for fun, live entertainment
Récit d'une journaliste du New York times pas plus intéressée que ça par la réalité virtuelle au départ, qui a passé 24 heures dans le metaverse de Meta :
"Putting on the headset was annoying, but once I started chatting in Horizon, I had a good time and was reluctant to leave."
"One of my favorite experiences in Horizon was Surrounded, a comedy show produced by Just For Laughs and filmed at its Montreal festival in July. Seven professional comedians had performed in the center of a small, live audience — Horizon allowed me to join it. Attending real-world events in the metaverse could have wide appeal. “I’ve never heard you laugh so hard,” my husband said, when I took off my headset."
"But the companies pushing the metaverse have work to do to make it as “seamless” as their evangelists describe, including making the headset lighter. I tried to get colleagues, including my editor, to meet me in Horizon as I worked on this story, but I rarely succeeded. Zoom was just easier."
"I had hands that were out-of-control itchy thanks to a poisonous plant I had touched while weeding in the real-verse. [After some time spent in Horizon] I realized that my itchiness had disappeared. I knew that virtual reality therapy had been used to treat serious conditions, like trauma and chronic pain. In my case, the metaverse was far more effective than hydrocortisone cream."
An illustrator based in the New York metropolitan area : “I was talking to someone once who had been on for more than 12 hours, I don’t know how they do it.”
It’s easy to lose track of time in Horizon. Like a casino, there are no clocks on the walls. The illustrator said it was what she did now instead of watching TV or scrolling TikTok. Horizon’s cartoonish graphics have been widely mocked, but she likes the visual simplicity. Allowing users to shed the distractions of the physical world, Horizon offers a meeting of the minds, Ms. Ferrer said, and conversations get deep quickly.
"Horizon Worlds reminded me of the AOL chat rooms from my earliest days on the internet, in the 1990s — except here I was making eye contact with the people I’d met, seeing their movements and hearing their voices."
"The Soapstone Comedy Club was created by Aaron Sorrels. His club now gets up to 13,000 visitors weekly. Mr. Sorrels said running “a cartoon comedy club in a pretend land” was now his full-time job.
Someone took the stage and told an extended joke. It doesn’t sound funny relating it here, but it cracked up the people assembled in a virtual room at 6:11 a.m. on a Sunday.
Each of the more than 10,000 worlds that users have created in Horizon can accommodate only a couple dozen people at a time. That’s because of the computational power required to project a virtual shared space across multiple headsets. If a world fills up, you’ll end up in a copy of it, like an overflow room.Networking in the metaverse, said Mr. Rulli, “becomes very normal, just like anything that you do outside the plastic.”
Maydena Swan, a welder and painter from Atlanta, whose green-haired avatar goes by Dee, took me to a virtual furniture store, where world creators could buy intricate lamps and tables for as much as $40.
Socializing/collaborating for work
vidéo d'1 minute pour voir comment Meta met en scène le travail collaboratif avec son nouveau casque Meta Quest Pro
partnerships with Zoom (join a meeting using your Meta avatar), Microsoft (join a Teams meeting from the metaverse)
Over the last year, Accenture deployed 60,000 Meta Quest 2 headsets and transformed its onboarding process, welcoming 150,000 people in its “Nth Floor” virtual campus that was co-created with Microsoft.
Accenture will be working alongside Meta and Microsoft in the coming year to help companies use VR to transform the way they engage employees, interact with customers, or create products and services in the metaverse. (source)
Vishal Shah, VP of Metaverse at Meta : “If you’ve been on a big Zoom call with, you know, a bunch of faces, this is awkward, but, we were all in a horizon Workroom. I told my story. I looked to my left. The next person went. And then there were head nods and acknowledgements. And then we just kept going around the room.”
Productivity/solo work (Zuckerberg : " So you can be sitting at a desk and have your perfect workstation up with three huge monitors, but you can see your physical keyboard in front of you and your physical mouse. So you can control the digital monitors that aren’t actually there.")
par ex : "With the Immersed app, users can spawn up to five virtual screens and work without distractions—or collaborate with others on a virtual desktop" (voir la démo vidéo de 30 secondes, mouais...)
partnership with Microsoft (stream the entire windows experience to the VR device)
Zuckerberg: "our partnership with Microsoft is a really important part of bringing VR to the workplace."
la même journaliste du New York times : "I became obsessed, for example, with Beat Saber, a game in which players swing a lightsaber at blocks to the beat of electronic music. It requires enough exertion to be called exercise."
About the 1500€ Meta Quest Pro headset newly announced
The Quest Pro's optics are 40% slimmer than the predecessor Quest 2 and has a relocated battery that sits at the back of the headset, distributing its weight more evenly while reducing overall bulk. It weighs 722g (against 502g for Quest 2)
37% more pixels per inch and 75% more contrast than the predecessor Quest 2, making it way easier to read text
Well under the cost of existing enterprise-focused devices like Microsoft's Hololens 2 (US$3,500), which was released for commercial use in 2019 and is already present in operating rooms and on factory floors
It has outward-facing cameras that capture a sort of 3D livestream of the physical environment around a wearer, enabling mixed reality novelties like the ability to hang a virtual painting on a real-world wall or have a virtual ball bounce off a real table.
Mixed Reality is getting better: on Meta Quest 2, you could only see the world outside your device in black and white. But with Meta Quest Pro, you can view your physical environment in full color.
New tracking sensors that can replicate users' eye movements and facial expressions, creating a sense that avatars are making eye contact. (voir la démo vidéo très parlante de 7 secondes)
Zuckerberg: "the best VR device that anyone has made.", “This is the best mixed reality that anyone has built so far.”
Meta is pitching it as a productivity device.
"While Meta Quest 2 enables mixed reality, Meta Quest Pro was designed for it."
About the possibilities unleashed by better face tracking
People can interact with virtual content based on where they’re looking. For example, game developers can use the player’s eye gaze to target objects or pop a balloon in a carnival game.
Example of application: Arkio is a collaborative spatial design tool that enables anyone to create, collaborate and review using VR, desktop and mobile. Design interiors, buildings, virtual spaces or game environments with your hands.
"Arkio is the first truly viable tool for architectural modelling in VR and a step ahead of more photo-realistic VR tools that provide only limited options for design."
ça ne servira pas à tout le monde, mais la démo de 1min50 est assez dingue
About Meta cartoonish avatars
There will soon be an avatar store where people will be able to spend real money to buy accessories for their Meta avatar. There was notably no mention of NFTs.
Legs are “probably the most requested feature on our roadmap,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the company’s Connect event
Avatars, which were previously floating torsos with arms and heads, will now have legs (their movements are very hard to predict well). Zuckerberg was very excited about this, with his avatar jumping for joy during the keynote. (voir la vidéo de 6 secondes)
Meta claims to have solved the problem through predictive AI, which, as Zuck further explained, is able to statistically track and predict how a Horizon Worlds avatar's limbs would naturally be following any given movement. This would eliminate the issue of occlusion, and voíla: legs for all.
Partnership with Rayban : cool glasses recording pics and videos, with spotify at the touch of the glasses
Discrete open-ear speakers allow you to seamlessly switch between listening to music, taking a call, and ordering coffee. And the 3 built-in microphones give you rich voice and sound quality for music, calls, and videos. (needs to be paired with a phone)
Pause your song, take a photo or record a video in a single touch with the glasses' hyper-responsive touchpad and capture button.
Capture photos and videos without taking out your phone. Just say, “Hey Facebook” and activate your Facebook Assistant voice control. Use your Assistant to send texts, make calls, or even read messages sent from Messenger, all without skipping a beat.
Le plus intéressant : future innovations currently tested in the labs and demoed during the Connect keynote:
contrôler son ordinateur presque sans bouger grâce à un bracelet porté au poignet et interprétant les influx nerveux le traversant
Wearing the bulky wristbands (bracelets) wired to computers, the wearers moved their fingers to make a cartoon character swipe back and forth in an endless-running game. Then, their movements seemed to stop. They became so subtle that their hands barely twitched, and still they played the game. The wristbands use EMG, or electromyography (the electrical measurement of muscles) to measure tiny muscle impulses.
"A feedback-based training process gradually allowed the wearers to start shrinking down their actions, eventually using only a single motor neuron". The end result looks a little like mind reading, but it's done by subtly measuring electrical impulses showing an intent to move.
The wristband can recognise the actions that someone has decided to perform by decoding those signals in motor neurons at their wrists, using machine learning, and translating them into digital commands. Works well enough that after some training, with almost no hand movement, someone can still control a character in a game : a new way to interact with the digital world
The machine will learn and adapt to you, combining machine learning and neural science (coadaptation)
Meta sees this tech as truly arriving in maybe 5 to 6 years, which feels like an eternity. But it will likely line up, should that timeframe hold, with where Meta sees its finalized AR glasses becoming available.
Zuckerberg says the wristbands are key for glasses, since we won't want to carry controllers (joystick, télécommande) around, and voice and hand tracking aren't good enough. But eventually he plans to make these types of controls work for any device at all, VR or otherwise.
photo-real avatars : “awesome but takes a very long time to generate”
How real? Quite real. It was uncanny: I stood close and looked at the lip movement, his eyes, his smiles and frowns. It felt almost like talking with a super-real PlayStation 5 game character, then realizing over and over again this is a real-time conversation with a real person, in avatar form.
Eventually, the realism started to feel good enough that I started assuming I was having a real conversation, albeit one with a bit of uncanny valley around the edges.
Meta doesn't see this coming into play for everyday headsets any time soon. First of all, standalone VR headsets are limited in their processing power, and the more avatars you have in a room, the more graphics get hard to render.
Ne ratez pas la démo de 45 secondes de l’avatar photo-réaliste de Mark Zuckerberg, incroyable aussi de voir comment les reflets de lumière sont générés
simpler photo-real avatars
avatar that are created by a face scan using a phone camera using a new technology called Instant Codec Avatars. The face looked better than most scans one can do on its own using state of the art technology to this day
But I felt like I was talking with a frozen and only slightly moving head. The end result was less fluid than the cartoony Pixar-like avatars Meta uses right now.
Voir la démo de 1 min, assez impressionnante aussi, surtout car elle devrait devenir accessible assez rapidement
full-body avatar photo-real avatars
a premade 3D scan of an actor using a special room with an array of cameras. The demo focused on digital clothes that could realistically be draped over the avatar.
The result looked good up close, but similar to a realistic video game. It seems like a test drive for how digital possessions could someday be sold in the metaverse, but this isn't something that would work on any headset currently available.
filming small objects with your phone to create in a few hours a 3D object to be inserted in VR/MR experiences
The results -- which showed furry, spiky, fine-detailed objects including a teddy bear and a cactus-- looked seriously impressive on a VR headset.
The curly fur didn't seem to melt or matte together like most 3D scans; instead it was fluffy, seemingly without angles. The cactus spines spread out in fine spiky threads.
It captured the light patterns of complex 3D objects
Certains aspects semblent irrésistibles (dialoguer avec quelqu’un à l’autre bout du monde et incrusté(e) dans notre réalité via un avatar photo réaliste), d’autres moins convainquants (avoir 5 écrans géants virtuels pour travailler…mmm). Est-ce que la vision de Mark Zuckerberg deviendra réalité ? Je pense que oui pour ma part, sur la partie sociale au moins. Mais même si oui, pas sûr que ce soit Meta qui en profitera le plus, on verra, en tout cas ce sont les plus investis à ce jour, mais cela leur coûte et tout cela va prendre du temps à porter ses fruits. Il va être intéressant de voir comment Apple et Alphabet se positionnent, et/ou si des startups peuvent percer significativement…
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Quelques mots sur le cuistot
J'ai écrit plus de 50 articles ces dernières années, à retrouver ici, dont une bonne partie publiés dans des médias comme le Journal du Net (mes chroniques ici), le Huffington Post, L'Express, Les Échos.
Retrouvez ici mon podcast Parlons Futur (ou taper "Parlons Futur" dans votre appli de podcast favorite), vous y trouverez entre autres des interviews et des résumés de livres (j’ai notamment pu mener un entretien avec Jacques Attali).
Je suis CEO et co-fondateur de l'agence digitale KRDS, nous avons des bureaux dans 6 pays entre la France et l'Asie. Je suis basé à Singapour (mon Linkedin, mon Twitter), également membre du think tank NXU.
Merci, et bon weekend !