Meta Unveils New AI Assistant and Facebook-Streaming Glasses

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta Platforms, introduced a range of new AI-powered products for consumers, including advanced image-generating bots and intelligent glasses capable of answering questions. Additionally, an updated virtual-reality headset was revealed during the presentation.

Zuckerberg described these new products as bridging the gap between the virtual and real worlds. He emphasized that part of Meta’s mission was to offer low-cost or free AI that seamlessly integrates into people’s daily routines. Meta’s Quest is currently the best-selling device in the emerging VR market, with company executives touting it as the best value in the industry, even in light of Apple’s impending release of a significantly more expensive headset.

During the Meta Connect conference, which marked the company’s largest event of the year and its first in-person conference since the pandemic began, Zuckerberg announced that a new generation of Meta’s Ray-Ban smart glasses would become available for shipping on October 17, priced at $299. These glasses will feature a new Meta AI assistant and the ability to livestream what the user is seeing directly to Facebook and Instagram, an improvement over the previous generation’s photo-capturing capabilities.

The latest Quest mixed-reality headset is set to ship on October 10, and Meta introduced its first consumer-oriented generative AI products, including a chatbot named Meta AI capable of generating text responses and photo-realistic images.

Zuckerberg stated, “Sometimes we innovate by releasing something that’s never been seen before, but sometimes we innovate by taking something that is awesome, but super expensive, and making it so it can be affordable for everyone or even free.”

Meta AI will serve as an assistant built into the smart glasses, beginning with a beta rollout in the United States. A software update planned for next year will equip the assistant with the ability to recognize places and objects that users see, as well as provide language translation.

Meta developed Meta AI using a custom model based on the powerful Llama 2 large language model, which the company released for public commercial use in July. The chatbot will have access to real-time information through a partnership with Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

Meta also announced plans to create a platform allowing both developers and the general public to design their custom AI bots. These bots will have profiles on Instagram and Facebook and eventually appear as avatars in the metaverse.

To demonstrate the tool’s capabilities, Meta created a set of 28 chatbots with different personalities mimicking the voices of celebrities such as Charli D’Amelio, Snoop Dogg, and Tom Brady.

These announcements appear to be geared towards enhancing existing apps and devices rather than introducing new revenue streams.

Zuckerberg also revealed that Xbox cloud gaming would be available on the Quest starting in December.

These developments underscore how Zuckerberg is adapting to the shifting landscape of investor interest from augmented and virtual reality technologies to artificial intelligence. The stakes were high for this event, as investors had expressed concerns over Meta’s spending on the metaverse last year, leading to layoffs. Developers and investors were keen to gauge the potential of Meta’s latest hardware devices and its strategy for the future.

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