Rumor mill: According to a new leak, Meta plans to release another affordable, consumer-focused headset for virtual and augmented reality next year. The strategy could maintain the company's advantage in VR/AR as more high-end models emerge from Sony, Apple, and Meta itself.

YouTuber Brad Lynch claims to have leaked the spec files for what may be the Meta Quest 3. The files indicate a device called "Project Stinson" with fewer bells and whistles than the headset the company plans to launch in October, likely offering customers a cheaper option.

An important detail is that headset shown in the Project Stenson files does not include eye or face tracking. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg already confirmed that the model coming in October — likely called the Meta Quest Pro — supports the feature. Sony's PlayStation VR2, coming next year, includes eye tracking, which could benefit player input and software performance.

Like the Quest Pro, Project Stinson will run on a Snapdragon SoC and feature pancake lenses, slimmer than those in some currently available headsets. The 2023 product has two tracking cameras for six degrees of freedom, an array of two black-and-white and two RGB cameras, a depth sensor, 2 LCDs, mechanical IPD adjustments, a pogo pin connector for a charging dock, and a strap similar to the Quest 2's.

Stinson sounds simultaneously like an upgrade from the Quest 2 and a more affordable option against the Quest Pro, which Meta may announce and launch at Meta Connect on October 11. The Quest 2 is currently the most popular VR headset because even after Meta raised its base price to $400, it's still significantly cheaper than kits from HTC or Valve. The Quest Pro kit could cost as much as $1,500, and Apple's mixed reality headset might run customers over $2,000 upon arrival sometime next year.

Even without eye tracking, releasing a new model at only a few hundred dollars would help Meta continue to stand out among the competition. The Pico 4 — starting at €429 — also looks to compete with Meta Quest. Sony hasn't announced a price for PS VR2, but it will probably land closer to the Quest 2's price than the upcoming premium models.

Image Credit: Brad Lynch