Seemingly in an effort to keep the spotlight during an increasingly hot month of VR announcements, Facebook teased a look at two new XR headset prototypes just a day after an apparent leak of HTC’s upcoming Vive Flow headset.

Update (October 14th, 2021): Facebook shared yet another teasing glimpse of a VR headset prototype; we’ve included it further below.

Although Facebook is expected to make major XR announcements at its upcoming Facebook Connect conference later this month, it seems the company couldn’t help but tease some of what its been working on.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg today posted an image of himself looking into what he called an “early retina resolution prototype.”

Image courtesy Mark Zuckerberg

‘Retina resolution’ refers to a display which has enough pixel density that it meets or exceeds the resolving power of the human eye. With no cameras apparently on the outside of the headset, this particular prototype is likely a VR headset. However, Zuckerberg said he was checking out a range of “next-generation” XR projects from his company’s VR division, Facebook Reality Labs.

“I spent the day with the Facebook Reality Labs research team in Redmond to demo our next-generation virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence tech. This one is an early retina resolution prototype. The future is going to be awesome,” he wrote.

Zuckerberg’s post was coordinated with another from Facebook’s VP of XR, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, who tweeted an image at what he says is another prototype from the FRL Research team in Redmond. The device appears to be a compact XR headset that takes on a goggles form factor

Image courtesy Andrew Bosworth

“Proud of the research Michael Abrash’s team is working on at FRL-R Redmond—excited to get an early look at some of the technologies that will underpin the metaverse (we work on several prototype headsets to prove out concepts, this is one of them. Kind of. It’s a long story.),” he wrote.

The wording suggests that the device isn’t itself an upcoming product but simply a prototype to “prove out concepts,” though he also teases that there’s a “long story” behind the headset, without going into detail.

While it could be something as simple as a non-functional ergonomic prototype, Facebook Reality Labs researcher Douglas Lanman seems to have confirmed that the headset is a display prototype in his own tweet. “I’m excited to see this preview of another headset prototype from the Display Systems Research team at FRL-R Redmond,” he wrote.

Update (October 14th, 2021): Bosworth shared another photo of a prototype headset which looks like an original Quest attached to a Rift S head-strap and with some extra hardware around it and what appears to be a rudimentary antenna sticking out of the top.

Image courtesy Andrew Bosworth

He didn’t offer any detail other than teasing, “So. Many. Prototypes.”

It doesn’t seem like coincidence that the Facebook teases happened today. Just yesterday, HTC’s own upcoming compact VR headset, Vive Flow, appears to have leaked ahead of the company’s event on Thursday. With pre-orders for Vive Flow purportedly starting on October 15th, the unspoken sentiment of Zuckerberg & Bosworth’s posts feel akin to ‘wait until you see what we’ve got up our sleeve’.

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HTC likely got the message; the company’s President of Vive China quickly tweeted back to Bosworth, “Hey Boz, Nice looking research project. Want to trade for a production quality device hot out of our factory? 😎,” insinuating that HTC is ahead of the game by already having its compact headset ready for production.

With all this new XR hardware in the works, it’s certainly turning out to be an exciting month. Facebook will surely save its major announcements at Facebook Connect later this month and high-end headset maker Varjo has been teasing its own big announcement.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • VRFriend

    Great. The more advanced and affordable VR tech, the better.

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  • xyzs

    Great to see they make highres or smaller prototypes.
    But once again, it’s com and not a product, and with no technical infos.
    Maybe after a decade of teasing us, we will end up with a concrete gen 2 product.

  • sfmike

    I’ll take retina resolution please and with OLED panels. Black means black not grey.

    • Arno van Wingerde

      I have hopes the Quest2 pro contains OLED… but it is just hopes, no facts at all.

  • grindathotte .

    It’s easy to get retina resolution, just cram a couple of megapixels into a tiny FOV.

    • Toplite – LED3D

      You are right, but the compact-form product usually adopts pancake optical solution, it has a wider fov, maybe >100 degrees, if so, there is very high pressure to the display screen.

  • kakek

    Yay, more new headsets !
    Because that’s absolutely what we need. More choice of headset to play the same games.
    VR has seen more headsets than AAA games. Or even AA.

    • ViRGiN

      The real Next-Gen VR will be the Beat Saber in RTX.

      • Anonymous

        As much as I like Beat Saber I really think the genre needs to eventually go away (or evolve, a lot). It fails to showcase that VR is capable of so much more than just slashing angry boxes and walls trying to crash into your face.

        • ViRGiN

          It ultimately crippled VR as a silly workout device. If it was up to me, i would doom all those music games. Everyone wanted to drive and fly around before vr was real, now that it’s real, everyone only sees quality inn rhythm games with overblown calorie burn counter.
          You won’t believe the amount of people who think they burn 250kcal in 10 minutes just senselessly flapping their arms around

          • Przemo-c

            Well… With all those that bought it for beat saber being potential customers for other games on the platform I don’t think it’s wise to be down on them. Let people play what they want. And enable more people to try it and get it even as a base use case. That won’t discourage devs to create other types of games.

            We need more people in VR to get more dev in VR

    • Przemo-c

      Good quality cheap headsets with more casual appealing form factor enables more people to get them perhaps making market for devs bigger.

      And sure we need content but keeping pressure on improvements in hardware is also necessary.

    • mirak

      Lol you are right, i never saw it that way xD.

      Developing a headset probably costs less than a AAA game.

  • JakeDunnegan

    I would enjoy these posts so much more if they didn’t include Jeff Zuckerberg in the pictures. Just a reminder that Facebook is involved at all makes me want to punch my 4k monitor.

    • Hivemind9000

      Don’t you mean Mark Bezos?

      • JakeDunnegan

        Something like that. ;) Was writing too fast and was going to just leave it at Zuckerberg. And, oddly enough Jeff Z isn’t exactly a non-famous name, so I didn’t catch it. Doh! (He’s the current president of CNN and I believe used to be head of NBC or something before that.)

        Obviously, Facebook being involved with Oculus is still a frustration for me. ;)

        • Arno van Wingerde

          Get an HTC Flow and meditate your anger away…

  • skyrimer

    You may think what you want about Vive Flow, but getting Facebook nervous and quick to show their stuff is good for all of us, so they don’t get too confy and see that there’s competition out there if they don’t keep innovating. Now Valve how’s that untethered, Steam Deck-powered Facebook-free HMD going?

    • Looks like HTC is jumping ahead, as none of Facebook’s “prototypes” will be launching soon. I’m guessing anyway…

      • And yet those prototypes are probably more refined and usable than the production units from HTC :D

  • bxrdj

    HTC product has less resolution than quest 2 – if that is correct how are they even a competition …

    • Anonymous

      How do you think they got here from being one of the super front-runners in smartphone to losing an entire business?

      Its obvious that there is someone rotten in their upper management and can’t be fired – likely some number crunching dude who doesn’t even know how to spell VR.

      • mirak

        You should be thankfully that HTC is even doing VR, and didn’t dropped it like LG that had a working steamvr prototype or Samsung that dropped gear VR and Odyssey.

    • Przemo-c

      It’s not really a competing product. It has specific use case. I think of it as what Go 2 would have looked like. Also resolution isn’t be all end all. 1600×1600 per eye isn’t half bad. It’s more than Quest 1 with pentile subpixel arrangement and looks to have similar processing power as quest 1 with way better form factor.

      But still it’s not really apples to apples comparsion.

      • gamechanger

        Thing is, there’s a good reason there is no Go 2…

    • Dave

      FRL are after productivity more than anything to drive there metaverse. Having as much human eye resolving power and clarity is absolutely key to this but also making is accessible, mobile and light. I’ve watched a lot of movies in my G2 and for general consumer content consumption I would say a 2.5K x 2.5K per eye is an absolute minimum, the flow just doesn’t cut it unless you would to play mobile games.

  • JB1968

    It’s nice to see FB’s ass-lickers being nervous about the possible competition.

    • ViRGiN

      Coming from valve bootlicker not seeing the steam monopoly, okay

    • Przemo-c

      I mostly use FB headsets… well i do have G2 but it’s for specific use case… And I long for viable competition to push things forward. Even if i were to stay with FB products. Keeping pressure on them is needed.

    • Arno van Wingerde

      eh… which competition would that be? Flow seems like a bad joke to me, it should have been released on April 1st.

  • TheNightmareIsReal

    If it only wasn’t tied to Facebook, that’d be great. Otherwise, no thanks.

    • ViRGiN

      Hating on Facebook, day 365.
      Not blinking twice for requiring steam account for steamvr headsets

      • JakeDunnegan

        You can’t tell the difference between a Steam account and a FB account? FB is known for selling your data – like, they’re internationally famous for it. And, you have to use your real name. And, Steam, you don’t have to worry about either one of those things.

        FB’s other main claim to fame is by getting you to connect with all your friends and family – who then can snoop into what game you’re playing if you’re not careful. A lot less likely with a Steam account.

        • Oohgahboogah

          but FB (or Google) doesn’t sell your data…?

          • JakeDunnegan

            They use your data to make money. In the past, they would literally sell your data, yes. To third parties, to app makers, etc. These days, it’s mostly targeted ads. **ou browsing for tooth brushes** “hey toothbrush maker, you pay me (google or FB or Amazon) – and I’ll point you at this person searching for toothbrushes!”

            So, FB/Amazon/Google make money off of your data. And FB had the gall, for years, of having you give away all your information w/out the decency of telling anyone that they were becoming one of the largest companies in the world based off selling your data, or in recent years, using targeted ads based on your freely given data. Imagine if they had to pay a commission .. to YOU, for renting YOUR data.

            Zuck wouldn’t be a billionaire – he’d, at best, be a regular exec, with a regular ol’ $10M a year salary. Poor guy.

          • cleaverboy

            The key word there is freely given data.
            They literally have no data that you didn’t volunteer them, unlike say ISPs

          • JakeDunnegan

            Correct, it is freely given, though, doubtless the actual number of people who knew going in that FB would then use said data in numerous ways, including influencing elections and whatnot is likely a minute percentage.

            Besides, the actual comparison here is FB to Steam account – and Steam does not attempt to use your data in the same way.

            And ISPs? huh? Most ISPs actually protect the data of their customers as it’s bad for business. I’m not saying they are saints or angels, but like I said – it can actually hurt their profit line as they make money off of the providing internet access, not selling advertising, like FB does.

          • cleaverboy

            ISPs can track every domain name, even for https requests unless you’re using dns over tls

          • JakeDunnegan

            Again, we’re comparing Steam and FB. Not sure why ISPs are remotely relevant to this conversation. And if you’re worried about DNS tracking, get a VPN and ensure there are no leaks.

            With FB, they make it extremely difficult to hide who you are. A VPN won’t help you, because you have to login. And, in fact, if you use a VPN that’s a different IP than your regular login, you might actually get your account locked out – and then lose access to your hardware! Just shows how effed up FB is about this.

            And for a lot of people, they didn’t know about the need for a FB account before they bought the hardware.

          • mirak

            Absolutely not, they integrate a chat like this one into websites, and Everytime you go on any of this site, they know you have been there.

            Also websites integrate their tracking technologies for ads targeting.

          • cleaverboy

            if you sign in with your Google or Facebook account, yeah you might be giving them what you type, depending on the oauth integration. But again, that’s the users choice.
            As for tracking on other sites, I think you’re way over estimating what FB or google does… they built big ecosystems just so that they don’t have to buy data. The companies that do collect and buy up data that are lower quality are doing that because they have no other source

        • NL_VR

          Not liking Facebook is ok but should not come with false info.
          Steam “know who you are” if you make purchase there. Credit card/Paypal info etc.

          “Friends and family om Facebook” is not “connected” to Oculus. They cant se what you are playing.
          If you are friends on Oculus they “can se” exatcly the same way as on Steam.

          • JakeDunnegan

            Typically, Facebook users use it for connecting to family and friends. Also, while FB has many ways of “locking down” your information, you really are only one decision change on the part of FB from having anything you do/say/play over there spilled over to the entire Internet.

            More importantly, it’s no one’s business what I do with my gaming time, devices, or applications, in the privacy of my own home. Why does Mark Z. need to know this stuff? Why do any of my friends or family? What if I don’t set the settings right on my Oculus and my kid fires up some porn on my account?

            NONE of that would happen on my steam accounts. For one thing, it’s far easier to share accounts and software on Steam. (Yes, it can be done on Oculus, but it’s far more limited – and no “offline mode” that I can see.) I’ve always used Steam for gaming, and frankly, it’s easy as pie to make a second steam account and share your games there, and so, if you want to separate your gaming and family/friends life, Steam has zero issue with you doing that.

            Facebook, on the other hand, is doing everything they can to pull you further and further into their “ecosystem” or whatever stupid name Zuck has for what he’s trying to build, so that his nosy butt can watch every tiny thing you do. Even if he never reveals that to anyone, THEY know. The Facebook admins know, and they can then make money off of it, as they tend steer their advertising at their userbase.

            No thank-you!

            So, sure, Steam may know who I am, but they don’t build their business on using your data to offer your profiles to third parties to advertise. Nor do they require you to use your real name. All you need is an email (which can be untraceable) and paypal (can also be untraceable). If you want your privacy with Steam, it’s a lot more of a “sure thing” than Facebook will ever be.

          • mirak

            > my kid fires up some porn on my account?

            He has already seen all at school.

          • JakeDunnegan

            You’re missing the point entirely. Facebook doesn’t give a crap about your privacy, and Steam has, to date, never tried to base their entire business model off of your privacy.

            Either you care about your privacy or you don’t. Pretty simple.

      • Facebook bot could ban your Facebook account for no reason, just the bot got bug. Your account is permanent banned and people in Facebook does not care of it, you just 1 of the billion account.

        • jimmy


    • jimmy

      shut up get over yourself snowflake

    • Merzcat

      Anyone disagreeing with you is either a shill or ignorant.
      Facebook treats HMDs like a console instead of just a device you connect to your computer.
      Imagine having to have a facebook account and be connected to the internet in order to use a computer monitor.
      The future of VR should be one where companies make HMDs but the ecosystem and software is up to third party developers.

      • Jonathan Winters III

        So anyone with an Oculus headset is a shill or ignorant. Got it.

      • Mradr

        You talk like a CCP member

  • Geoff

    The craze has worn off with me. 5 different headsets unused here too. You either have to tie yourself to a social media account, be an enterprise customer or pay triple to get a none FB headset with acceptable tracking. And it has been like that for a few years now. The price was supposed to come down with newer advancements like LH2 and as tech moves forwards, but it is still a money sink. Xbox are still not interested. FB force you into data harvesting and HTC/Steam are trundling along with premium offerings only.

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    • ViRGiN

      You either enjoy what’s available today, or make stupid choices like buying games on steam so when you change a headset brand you can still play all your old games which you simply don’t want to. That’s all legally there is to it.

      Quest 2 for portable vr, psvr2 for aaa vr, screw pcvr which for over 4 years have the same 3 games on top of the list.

    • Sinshi Uzumaki

      I think Sony will be turning around the game in the next year.

      • Geoff

        I keep trying to get a PS5 for that reason :-) Stocks are still horrendous.

        • Arno van Wingerde

          If you want it mainly for PSVR2: just wait… You have lots of time, it is likely that you can get a PS5 for a normal price at a normal outlet by the time the PSVR2 is available.

        • Sinshi Uzumaki

          You have time till the PSVR2 releases.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        They won’t turn a thing if you have to have a PS5 to use it, unless they would allow usage on PC, which wouldn’t be much work as it’s only drivers.

        • Sinshi Uzumaki

          They will.
          Exclusive high quality games especially from their first party studios
          Adaptive triggers and haptic feedback
          Oled screens with RGB high resolution HDR with comfortanle design

          Ray tracing in game.

          A Wireless adaptor is a bonus.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            But still needing a PS5 while many people have a large VR library on steam… So yeah, they might sell a lot of headsets to PS5 users, but I do hope they also have it working on a PC, or the community gets it working like they did with the current PSVR.

          • Sinshi Uzumaki

            It is their exclusive headset. Ofcourse it should be exclusive. Except if that changed with the current strategy of the company. I read many people are willing to buy a PS5 for PSVR2.

    • mirak

      Yes VR is really missing a competition between Sony and Microsoft.

  • Merzcat

    I have been following modern vr since the mtb3D days, got the DK1 from the kickstarter etc but I have been putting virtual reality on hold for until the displays have matured.
    I feel like using them today for hours would really fuck up your vision, or at least it would be very uncomfortable.
    Once they have retina resolution and varifocal displays then I will officially enter the metaverse and start using virtual reality seriously.

    • mirak

      You will be too old or dead by then.

  • Is the last one the Quest 2 Pro?

    • dk

      maybe not …but the other leaked stuff about q2pro suggests it will be a narrow headset too

  • KoBak

    We know they have the talent to make a cutting edge headset, that could provide an experience far beyond what mobile chipsets can support with it’s low power limits. Unfortunately having the ability to use my VR headset and all purchases tied to my real world FB account is just not going to fly. When they can disable your account at their discretion based on whatever they feel as against their “values” while using any FB services, is just crazy.
    I still have my original Rift, next to my Valve Index. I will keep using the Oculus account as long as possible to play games via Revive, but have not purchased a single title on their store since the announcement on the account change.

    • Alexander Sears

      It’s a shame that facebook is the only game in town when it comes to entry level VR

      • mirak

        It’s not the real price of the Quest, they harvest your datas, that’s why it’s cheap and no one can compete.

        • oomph2

          maybe give them gigo; thats the best way to fight data manipulators; quid pro quo

    • mirak

      Never bought something from Oculus ever.
      You are so naive.

  • Lucidfeuer

    I see they afford themselves the confortable headband design while forking the crap headstrap to customers…

    • Andrew Jakobs

      What are you talking about? You can get the better headband yourself too, just have to pay a bit more. Another thing why they can sell the headset at a lower price.

  • Till Eulenspiegel

    When Oculus introduced the Rift in 2012 at Kickstarter, they started the 2nd wave of VR – people thought that VR was going to be the next big thing. It’s almost 10 years now, VR headsets are still niche devices – I seriously doubt that it will become mainstream.

    • Bob

      It doesn’t need to be “mainstream” for VR to be successful. It always amuses me when people think that the need to sell tens of millions of devices is the only surefire way to success. It isn’t.

  • Mradr

    All these Prototypes and yet – cap at 299 so we wont see any of this stuff for another 5 or 8 years out… wow…

  • oomph2

    Andrew’s goggles : My choice