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John Carmack expresses disappointment, caution in Metaverse progress

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John Carmack expresses disappointment, caution in Metaverse progress

In brief: Once again, John Carmack is expressing some caution over Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse ambitions while still harboring hope for the overall concept. As Zuckerberg and others espouse high-concept dreams, Carmack seems focused on the nuts and bolts.

Oculus CTO, Meta “executive advisor,” and legendary game developer John Carmack articulated a healthy mix of skepticism and optimism for Meta’s development of VR and Metaverse applications this week. While he isn’t entirely satisfied with the company’s progress, he spoke positively about some advancements being made.

Carmack delivered an hour-long keynote during the recent 2022 Meta Connect Conference, explaining Meta’s recent VR developments as well as his goals for VR. He started the talk by pointing out how the presentation missed some of the goals he stated last year.

At his 2021 conference keynote, Carmack said he wanted to deliver the 2022 talk on a virtual stage in front of thousands of avatars representing users watching in real-time in the metaverse. Instead, this year’s presentation is just a livestreamed video of Carmack’s avatar, which he considers no different than a live-action livestream.

From there, Carmack launches into a deep technical discussion of Meta’s recent developments in VR hardware and software. One of his main themes is that developers should focus on what they can achieve now instead of their long-term goals.

The comments contrast interestingly with some other segments in this week’s conference. Mark Zuckerberg appeared to demonstrate Meta VR avatars with legs, even though the company’s current technology can’t accurately track a user’s legs. Eventually, Meta confirmed to UploadVR that the virtual legs in the demonstration moved so smoothly because they used motion capture, amounting to a target render. Carmack’s avatar in his keynote is just a floating upper body.

Furthermore, Carmack seemed to clash with Meta’s push for photorealistic avatars. While the in-development “Codec Avatars” project showed off impressively detailed virtual faces, Carmack said he’d rather focus on rendering large numbers of computationally cheap avatars using affordable hardware.

While Meta used the conference to unveil the $1,500 Meta Quest Pro, Carmack reiterated his desire to focus on increasing the number of price points at which to offer VR headsets. While the Meta Quest 2 – the most popular VR headset – recently increased its base price to $400, Carmack wants to one day offer a $250 headset. He also wants headsets to become more comfortable and easier to set up. Meta is currently prepping the Meta Quest 3 for next year, likely at a much lower price than the Quest Pro to succeed the Quest 2.

Carmack’s call for a measured pace to VR and metaverse development echoes what he said last year regarding metaverse applications. Instead of immediately pushing for a generalized metaverse world, Carmack said the clear path is for the concept to emerge from an existing popular game or app, like Roblox. He likened this to his development of Doom and Quake in the 1990s, which created technology that became useful in other places.

Other people in the video game industry have expressed similar views. In February, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told the Financial Times that the challenges in developing the metaverse sound like challenges Microsoft’s games already work towards solving. In March, former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé said Fortnite and Roblox are pushing the metaverse better than Meta currently is.

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Ashley is a professional writer and editor with a strong background in tech and pop culture. She has written for high traffic websites such as Polygon, Kotaku, StarWars.com, and Nerdist. In her off time, she enjoys playing video games, reading science fiction novels, and hanging out with her rescue greyhound.

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Tesla finally delivers its first production Semi

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Tesla finally delivers its first production Semi

Five years after CEO Elon Musk officially unveiled his Semi, Tesla’s electrified tractor trailer, the company delivered its first official production vehicle to Pepsi on Thursday during its “Semi Delivery Event” held at Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory. The beverage maker has ordered 100 of the vehicles in total.

First shown off in 2017, the Tesla Semi originally was set to retail for $150,000 and $180,000 for the 300- and 500-mile versions, respectively. Those prices are significantly higher than the $60k a standard diesel cab runs but Tesla estimates that its vehicles can operate 20 percent more efficiently (2kWh per mile, Musk revealed Thursday), and save up to $250,000 over the million-mile life of the Semi.

Each rig is “designed like a bullet,” Musk said at the vehicle’s unveiling, and would come equipped with a massive 1MW battery pack. This reportedly offers a 20-second 0-60, which is impressive given that these vehicles are towing up to 80,000 pounds at a time, and a spent-to-80 percent charge time of just 30 minutes. The Semis are also outfitted with Enhanced Autopilot capabilities, as well as jackknife-mitigation systems, blind-spot sensors and data-logging for fleet management.

As reservations opened in 2017, Musk said at the time, deliveries would begin two short years later, in 2019. By April 2020, Tesla had officially pushed that delivery date back to 2021, citing production delays and supply chain issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, just two months after that, in May of 2020, Musk sent a company-wide email reading, “It’s time to go all out and bring the Tesla Semi to volume production. It’s been in limited production so far, which has allowed us to improve many aspects of the design,” as seen by CNBC. In the same email he confirmed that production would take place in Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory.

Cut to July, 2021, and the new delivery date has been pushed again, this time to 2022, citing both the ongoing global processor shortage and its own pandemic-limited battery production capability for the new 4680 style cells as contributing factors.

“We believe we remain on track to build our first Model Y vehicles in Berlin and Austin in 2021,” Musk said during the company’s Q2, 2021 investor call. “The pace of the respective production ramps will be influenced by the successful introduction of many new product and manufacturing technologies, ongoing supply-chain-related challenges and regional permitting.”

“To better focus on these factories, and due to the limited availability of battery cells and global supply chain challenges, we have shifted the launch of the Semi truck program to 2022,” he continued. Beginning in May of this year, Tesla started actively taking reservations again for a $20,000 deposit. “And first deliveries are now,” Musk said on Thursday before welcoming Kirk Tanner, CEO PepsiCo Beverages North America, and Steven Williams, CEO PepsiCo Foods North America, on stage for high fives and handshakes.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. All prices are correct at the time of publishing.

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