The Metaverse, despite the immense hype and colossal investments, has yet to achieve the stellar success many expected. Meta, a pioneer in Metaverse ventures, disclosed plans to lay off employees within its Reality Labs division from today, particularly those involved in crafting custom silicon. While Meta’s foray into the Metaverse has generated buzz, it raises questions about the elusive allure of this digital frontier.
The layoff news was communicated to the affected employees through an internal post on Meta’s discussion forum, Workplace, with notifications set to be delivered by early Wednesday morning. The extent of the downsizing within the Facebook Agile Silicon Team (FAST), the silicon-focused unit employing around 600 people, remains uncertain.
The FAST team’s primary mission is to engineer specialized chips powering Meta’s augmented and virtual reality hardware, a pivotal facet of the Metaverse vision. Meta’s existing product line includes mixed reality headsets like Quest and smart glasses developed in partnership with EssilorLuxottica, the maker of Ray-Ban glasses designed for things like video streaming and AI interactions with users.
At its recent Connect conference, Meta unveiled fresh iterations of its smart glasses and the consumer-oriented Quest headset, Quest 3. The company is ambitiously expanding into augmented reality glasses capable of overlaying virtual objects on transparent lenses, complemented by a range of smartwatches, according to insiders.
However, the Metaverse’s journey to greatness has not been without setbacks. Meta has faced challenges in making chips that can rival those from external suppliers, leading to reliance on chip manufacturer Qualcomm for its current devices, including Quest headsets and Ray-Ban glasses. The hurdles Meta encounters in the silicon realm underscore the complexities of materialising the Metaverse’s promise and the challenges tech companies face in translating Metaverse ambitions into tangible and fully immersive experiences.
Companies across the world that have touted the Metaverse as the next big thing after the internet have suddenly kept quiet but that’s not say the Metaverse dream is dead, but it looks like people aren’t just so interested in it at this point. Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality haven’t yet lived up to the projections and this is partly due to the cost of the kit and the burden of having to get kitted to access the technology. You can read more on why the Metaverse has yet to live up to its hype here.