The first physical retail outpost of the company formerly known as Facebook is not likely to draw much foot traffic from customers who don’t wear a Meta employee badge. That’s because it’s not located in Union Square or Westfield San Francisco Centre but rather in Burlingame, tucked into the tech giant’s waterfront campus just a few feet from an on-site Equator coffee shop. The showroom, which is now open to the public, is roughly the size of a large three-bedroom apartment, like a miniature Apple store with the chrome swapped for blond wood and speckled marble.
The most striking part of the showroom is the demo zone for the Quest 2, a virtual reality headset from Oculus (which Meta bought in 2014 for $2 billion), where users can play virtual reality games like “Beat Saber,” “Golf Plus,” fitness game “Supernatural” or, if you’re angling for some angling, “Real VR Fishing.” A wall-sized video screen shows what’s going on inside the headset, while a team of Meta employees stands by with game play tips and gentle reminders to remove the headset if you feel sick. Jokes about the best place to vomit were received with awkward silence.
Aside from the Quest, the showroom also serves as a place to test-drive two other pieces of technology. Portal is a video conferencing tablet that was released in 2018 and had a moment in the early days of the pandemic. The second gadget, Ray-Ban Stories, does much less than you’d expect, for better or worse. They’re basically slick sunglasses with a hidden camera and tiny speakers. Last year SFGATE columnist Drew Magary gave a pair a test, calling them dystopian and predicting that eventually we’d all own a pair.
As someone who was required by their employer to watch Mark Zuckerberg’s entire presentation on the metaverse, I was particularly curious about seeing Facebook’s future through the lenses of a shiny new Quest 2, whose sleek white design comes with a price tag of $299.