Tech Talk #17 : Cambria

Tech Talk #17 : Cambria

The Project Cambria announcement at Facebook(Meta) Connect 2021 sparked surprise and wonder in the VR community about their upcoming cutting-edge, high-end headset.

How does it look like?
What are the specs?
How much does it cost?
When will it be released?

The possibilities seem limitless, but there are only a few wild guesses and accurate forecasts.

Project Cambria Specs :

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 CPU

  • Pancake-style lenses

  • 12GB LRDDR5

  • 256GB

  • Hand Tracking

  • Face Tracking

  • Eye Tracking

  • Two 2.48inch, 2160 x 2160 pixel mini-LED screens

  • Wi-Fi 6E compatible


Above are the guesses and rumour that we found online, but time will tell.

The official may get announced at Meta’s next Connect event and it will likely be available for purchase the following day.

What features you wish to have on this headset?

Or you think it’s more than enough for a standalone headset?


Hearing Thrillseeker’s impressions on the Wifi 6E wireless kit for the index has me cautiously optimistic that the wireless streaming might be a big improvement in terms of compression and latency over Quest 2.

If not, then I really hope there is a direct display port connection, like how the Pico Neo 3 Link does it or such.

That all said, the resolution is still a bit low imo for a productivity device. I would be interested in a headset that could replace my monitors and be small/comfortable enough to wear for hours every day, with colour passthrough, so it’s a tempting proposition but not enough to make me jump on a 1500 price tag. If it had a larger FOV (like 140 diagonal minimum) with the same PPD then I might consider it.

It’s definitely a step in the right direction and I think the self tracking controllers are a great idea that I can solidly get behind, I think I’d much prefer them overall to even base station controllers.

I’ll wait for reviews, and maybe keep an eye out for a secondhand one at some stage if it really is a great headset but very very unlikely that I’ll bother with it personally. The Crystal/12K are much more appealing for gaming and I have an Arpara tethered coming that I think might actually work well for productivity with the high PPD, mOLED and form factor.

Definitely keen on seeing reviews for Cambria though and would love to try one.


The Cambria doesn’t really interest me features wise, I use VR for gaming, not for social interactions or productivity.


The only thing that really interests me about the Cambria is the self tracking controllers. I expect this technology to at least potentially be the first time we’ve seen better than Basestation tracking. It could offer the same high precision accuracy while being much harder to occlude or otherwise foul. This same technology could be adapted to FBT pucks. So this could be the start of a revolution that sees the end of Basestations while also making FBT much more broadly available.

I wonder if this is a direction Pimax will be going. The 12K as announced will be coming with the older style passive inside out controllers. But there’s no reason why self tracking controllers couldn’t be used with the 12K in combination with its inside out sleeve.

In fact, here’s a wacky thought. Could the Cambria controllers themselves be used with the 12K? In terms of hardware, I expect this is possible. But surely Meta won’t allow that sort of configuration in their software. But maybe a third party or open source will develop software that can do it.

Other than that, Cambria and Apple’s headset seem positioned to compete with each other in AR. And I’m expecting both of them to flop. I don’t think the technology is there yet for AR to take off. I think these are early devices which will be pioneers in advancing that technology, but I think they’re too early to be satisfying more than development and niche cases. Yet I think both of them are being positioned as if to appeal to a more mass market, and that’s why I think they’re going to flop. A bunch of people are going to buy them and be quickly disappointed and put them on the shelf to collect dust as soon as the novelty wears off.

I just haven’t heard any convincing answers for what use cases these devices in their current state are able to solve.

In particular, I think AR needs to be usable in public. These devices are not fashionable, and I think very few people will be willing to wear them in public. They have to get a lot smaller before they can become stylish enough. This is going to be the major non-technical barrier to adoption of AR technology.

I’ve been reasoning Apple’s offering to most likely be intended primarily as something of a devkit, to go before future consumer grade AR devices, albeit with the usual degree of polish, and being sold widely, as the captive customer base is likely to lap it up greedily, crazy pricepoint notwithstanding. :7

Exactly. I’ve heard they expect to sell 1.5 million of them in the first year. 1.5 million devkits.

This is Apple’s first actual new product release since they lost Steve Jobs. And I think they’re assuming they can just continue to rely upon their captive customer base, as you put it. And I think it’s not going to work this time, and they’re about to fracture their brand if they go forward with it.

Rumors have been floating around for years about Apple working on their own headset. And it sounds to me like these haven’t all been the same headset, but multiple previous projects which they ultimately gave up on. Presumably because they realized it wasn’t going to go well if they tried to actually market what they’d come up with.

I’ve wondered if they’re proceeding with a mentality of “We have to release one of these!” or if they actually might still cancel this one, too.

It was Steve Jobs marketing genius that built the Apple empire. I really haven’t had the sense that the current people running the show know what they’re doing with what they’ve inherited. And I suspect they’re about to demonstrate that to the world with this launch.

In the same vein, Meta seems to have been trying to copy Apple’s playbook all along with building their own walled garden and everything. And so I wonder if with Cambria they may be about to follow Apple over the cliff.

The difference there is that Cambria may still survive just because it can be a sort of “super” Quest 2 for rich people. Whereas it doesn’t seem like Apple’s offering will be usable for VR gaming or really any gaming.

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I will be closely following the Cambria release, and probably buy one.

The advantages I hope it will offer to me, as a gamer, would be the following:

  • unparalleled comfort due to pancake lens design saving a lot of weight, and the remaining weight of the lenses is nearer to the face which creates less momentum weight when rotating the head. This is a big improvement to me.
  • wireless in very good quality - another big pro (especially since I am about to receive my Yaw 2 motion rig, where this will enable me to utilize 360° yaw movement)
  • eye-tracking for
    • perfect IPD
    • DFR (I fully expect future Quest games to take advantage of it, PC VR games unfortunately not yet)

The pain point is obviously the missing improvement on the resolution - obviously stand-alone gaming cannot go further if they use the same XR2 chip (though allegedly with a substantial performance increase due to better cooling etc.), but it stings a bit for PC VR.

Good color pass-through will be nice for the other stuff which isn’t my main focus, but I still enjoy: painting with Vermillion will be really cool if you see your real environment, etc…

So no, it will not be next gen in terms of visual fidelity, but in terms of usability. I am dreading the day when (I have a RTX4090 and) a new polished headset appears on the screens with superior visual quality, but tethered and less comfortable. That will be a difficult call for me to make, especially when using my motion rig :unamused:

(Don’t tell me that the Crystal would fit my sweet spot (save for the comfort) - on paper for sure, but I will patiently await the reviews before expecting it to be the holy grail)

hmm, you’re still aware that the Cambria isn’t really designed for the game fraction?
To me, this sounds more like a work space, which requires far less performance.

Yeah it’s definitely not aimmed at gamers, although I guess many will still view it as a potential new headset through those lenses as a lot of us are always wanting the next best thing.

Personally, I am currently working from 4 different locations a week due to life circumstances out of my control, so cambria is actually quite appealing as I’d like to have a headset where I could have the same virtual office space and remote desktop into my workstation remotely and work like that with the same monitor setup as I physically have at my home. That said, I’m not convinced that the PPD of the cambria will enable this, although I think the comfort will, but working in code I feel like 30-40PPD or so is likely the minimum.

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I will most likely get the Cambria as a roomscale alternative to my VR-3 whcih is perfect for my sim rig, but too heavy and tethered for roomscale experiences.

I personally think that both the Cambria as well as the Apple VR HMD will make great use of passthrough AR; I tested a Varjo XR-3 and was extremely impressed with the quality of its passthrough. Using high quality passthrough can also offer true Mixed Reality content, such as showing hands and e.g. your real life steering wheel or cockpit within a sim, which as a simracer would be an amazing increased of immersion.


I am just looking at the specs & capabilities. The Quest 2 wasn’t focused on providing PC VR either yet does a decent job at doing so in a wireless manner.
The lack of a bump in resolution is indeed a question mark I have too but the features I mentioned make me seriously consider it.

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There is a bump in resolution 1920 x 1832 → 2160 x 2160, plus I would imagine more of that resolution on Cambria is being actually used due to seperate panels (plus the new orientation giving a bit more vFOV).

The bump isn’t all that significant though (about 15%) but I would imagine in practice it equates to more like 20% difference. If wifi 6e facilitates near lossless compression and low latency (like resported on the index 6e wireless adapter) then that would actually be fairly compelling, especially combined with the form factor, self tracking controllers and imrpoved colours provided by the miniLED.

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I’m not sure why anyone is assuming the Cambria is going to have this technology being developed by another independent company which is not owned by Meta.

It seems more likely to me that Cambria will release with essentially the same wired and wireless PC link feature that the Quest 2 has now. The hardware may not even be capable of implementing Nofio’s solution. Based on its specifications, I think it’s likely to be using customized hardware acceleration.

Think we might be misunderstanding eachother here. Afaik the index wireless adapter isn’t anything massively different from Airlink or Virtual Desktop, it just interfaces with a headset that isn’t originally wireless and using wifi 6E instead of just wifi 6. It seems like Wifi 6E is the major aspect of what enables them to get essentially lossless video and super low latency. There’s no reason to assume that Meta can’t do the same with 6E on the Cambria, perhaps it might require a dedicated dongle or base station of sorts rather than just a 6E enabled router.

I highly doubt it is using customized hardware acceleration, it will almost certainly be using off the shelf components and the meat is in the software. A product this niche from a company this small can’t really afford to be developing custom chips and acceleration hardware, but I could be totally wrong.

From what I’ve heard so far, it really does seem to hinge on wifi 6E (I’ve also been talking to someone that used it and spoke with the team in person and they are of the same opinion that 6E is the magic sauce here).

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I don’t think that’s actually true. Quest 2 is running its wireless connection through the XR2. Whereas I think the Nofio is running dedicated hardware which outputs a DisplayPort signal which is able to achieve much higher pixel rate and lower latency. According to the recent Thrillseeker video, it was even able to run 144Hz with no detectable latency or display artifacts. I don’t think the XR2 would be able to do the same thing in software.

You can see this sort of thing in the diagrams for wireless support on the Pimax 12K. The 60GHz support does not route through the XR2. It uses specialized hardware for a direct path instead. The 12K’s WiFi 6E support does route through the XR2, but I think this is something more like Airlink/Virtual Desktop and will have more latency than the other path (though presumably still less than if it was just using 6).

In the Thrillseeker video, it is said to be using a custom video codec in order to achieve this low latency. I agree that 6E will be a part of the “magic sauce”. But the custom codec is likely to be an even bigger part of it.

Video codecs like h.264/h265 are not designed for such extremely low latency real time. They’re more focused on compressing stuff like movies. Especially when you get into deltas from future frames (B frames). The video codec itself produces substantial lag even if network transmission is instantaneous. I’m pretty sure the latency they were claiming is below what’s possible with just the video codec itself with no network transmission at all.

I agree with you that Nofio is likely too small to be working with custom silicon. But hardware acceleration generally only supports major codecs. So they’re probably using a chip where they’ve changed the microcode to speak their custom codec.

According to the video, Nofio does intend to license this technology to other manufacturers for use in their headsets. But I expect that it’s not just a software thing that can be run on an XR2 or anything like that. It’s probably more like a reference hardware design, firmware, and software. Something that needs to be built in.

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I don’t see why it’s a stretch to think that a company such as Meta wouldn’t be able to utilize 6E to the same extent using a low latency codec. I’ve seen nothing to suggest that any of the hardware in Nofia is unique or proprietary, it seems like it all comes down to software. I don’t think they are big enough to develop a proper custom hardware decoder. It’s totally possible that Cambria doesn’t include anything to take full advantage of Wifi 6E, but that’s just one headset. My point is that 6E is very exciting because it seems to enable wireless streaming of VR that I didn’t think would be possible over wifi until wifi 7, I assumed we’d need to rely on wigig for the next few years for good quality wireless VR.

It definitely could be reference hardware design etc like you said, but nothing that other companies couldn’t do themselves imo. Wifi 6E itself is an add on to the XR2 afaik, like a small add on board or such, there’s no reason to think that just because it’s the XR2 that there couldn’t be additional stuff added on to facilitate similar lossless low latency streaming over wifi 6E.

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It’s certainly technically possible that Meta could be doing the same thing as Nofio already. But my point is that such a thing is not part of any of the rumors or unofficial specifications about Cambria at all. It seems to be just this assumption that because this startup Nofio is doing it, then Meta is probably also doing it, too. And I see no reason to assume that at all.

In fact, I doubt that Cambria will even be relying on PCs for its “productivity”. I think Meta wants to go full standalone with it, and so like on the Quest 2, the PC link will remain something of an afterthought. Meta may not even be interested in Nofio-like technology. This is why I think the airlink functionality on Cambria will essentially just be forwarded from the Quest 2 as is.

I think Meta’s primary plan is to have a bunch of native productivity apps on the Cambria. Meta’s whole trajectory up to this point has been trying to encourage customers off of PC and onto their native platform, and I don’t think that’s going to change with Cambria.

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Good points, maybe I came across as focused on Cambria too much (although logical cause it’s a cambria thread). I’m mostly excited about 6E in general, for the reasons I mentioned earlier (I thought wigig was the only real high quality option for now, and the line of sight aspect is a borderline deal breaker for me for wigig). So I’m a lot more optimistic about nearterm wireless streaming thanka to Nofio that I was previously.

We also don’t know for certain if it does require any specific hardware. I do agree that it’s unlikely that Cambria will push it much although I think Cambria will actually be relatively PC focused for productivity (against Meta’s will nearly) because Meta just doesn’t have a useful software stack for standalone productivity yet. I guess you could claim cloud apps will bridge that gap but from Meta’s perspective that’s basically the same as 3rd party apps.

I do think they want standalone productivity to be their be all end all but their productivity software just isn’t there yet. They might release some with Cambria but I would eat a small family alive if it was actually up to snuff for any real productivity.

Anyway, that’s all beside the point. I agree that 6E streaming on Cambria almost certainly won’t be up to the stand of Nofio, I do think it will be an improvement though and I’m excited about 6E in general, even for Pimax reality series etc.

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Although the resolution of the panels indeed is a bit higher, unfortunately Meta is apparently rendering the exactly same resolution as for the Quest 2, probably to avoid a) update requirements for the existing app base, and b) performance losses b/c the additional sensors may create a greater side load on the XR2 as compared to the Quest 2 sensors (but then again the Cambria XR2 iteration is said to perform 20-30% better).

Let’s see, it may or may not pan out as a good visual experience with all the advantages of wireless, high comfort & small form factor. But I am definitely very curious to see what the result of all the efforts which went into the Cambria development are!

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The supposed default render resolution of Cambria is the same as Q2 panels but it’s higher than the default render resolution of Q2, pretty much no apps on Q2 render at the panel resolution.

Plus higher res panels will look better anyway, even at the same rendering resolution. I’m mostly interested in PCVR personally so if I was using Cambria I would be driving the full resolution most of the time.

Not sure if the rendering resolution on cambria standalone is for compatibility or just because it’s still the XR2 just potentially an updated version with better cooling so performance won’t be that much better.
It does make sense that it would be compatibility seeing as they landed at that very specific number.

I might be wrong about all that though, just going off stuff I remember from the top of my head.

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