At Connect, Meta’s annual developer event, boss Mark Zuckerberg introduced “Becca, devoted mother to her pooch” and “Max, experienced sous chef,” two of 28 virtual characters created to interact with users.
They will have their own profiles on Facebook and Instagram, will have voices by next year and some will be played by celebrities such as Paris Hilton (“Amber, detective expert for who did what”) or YouTube star MrBeast (“Zach, the big brother who gently makes fun of you”).
This was Connect’s first in-person event since 2019, before the pandemic.
Meta was eagerly awaited in terms of generative AI, which makes it possible to produce all types of content (text, images, sounds, code, etc.) through simple queries in everyday language.
The group also announced details of Quest 3, its new mixed reality headset, which was introduced last June. It will be marketed starting at $500 and will ship starting October 10th.
And the new connected glasses from Ray-Ban (available from $300) were also there.
Using generative AI, they can now make more complex voice queries.
“Hey Meta, write me a funny caption for Instagram about training my cat Adobo,” asked Li-Chen Miller, vice president of the company, during a demonstration in which she filmed her cat thanks to the camera built into the glasses.
At the end of 2021, during the pandemic, Facebook went meta with the idea of becoming a metaverse company, which Mark Zuckerberg describes as the future of the Internet after web and mobile.
But the path to augmented and virtual reality is full of pitfalls.
The Californian group experienced a difficult year in 2022, marked by the first decline in its advertising revenue since its IPO in 2012. And Facebook lost users before it gained them back.
The company, which had never launched a social plan in its 20 years of existence, laid off 11,000 employees (13% of the workforce) in November and 10,000 last March.
In this context, many investors and analysts are skeptical about spending on building virtual worlds.
Reality Labs, the arm responsible for developing devices and applications for the Metaverse, lost $13.7 billion in 2022, and Meta expects another strong gain in 2024.