Meta unveils Quest 3 headset, AI chatbots including Israel Adesanya

Mixed martial arts star Israel Adesanya is one of 28 AI chatbots just released by Meta as part of a slew of new announcements from the Facebook company. 

Alongside Adesanya are the likes of rapper Snoop Dogg, hotel heiress Paris Hilton, footballer Sam Kerr, YouTuber MrBeast, model Kendall Jenner and tennis star Naomi Osaka, each of whom will embody what the company calls an "advanced conversational assistant". 

The chatbots can only be interacted with using text currently, but voice communication is expected to be added early next year, according to Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg. 

"We've been creating AIs that have more personality, opinions, and interests, and are a bit more fun to interact with," Meta said on its website. 

"Along with Meta AI, here are 28 more AIs that you can message on WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram. You can think of these AIs as a new cast of characters - all with unique backstories. 

"Because interacting with them should feel like talking to familiar people, we did something to build on this even further. We partnered with cultural icons and influencers to play and embody some of these AIs." 

Adesanya, whose Stylebender documentary opened in cinemas this week, embodies a chatbot entitled Luiz, who is described as a "showy MMA prospect who can back up his trash talk". Like all of the chatbots, 'Luiz' has launched with an Instagram and Facebook page that features AI-generated imagery. 

Zuckerberg announced the chatbots at this week's virtual Meta Connect event, along with the company's latest headset and smart glasses

The Meta Quest 3 will start at NZ$929.99 in Aotearoa. Meta calls it the "world's first mainstream headset built for mixed reality" and promises improved performance and a sleeker, more comfortable design than previous models. 

The unit offers support for 'Meta Reality', the company's own take on mixed reality, which blends virtual reality with the real world.  

"If you pick up a digital ball and throw it at the physical wall, it'll bounce off it," said Zuckerberg at Meta Connect. 

"If someone's shooting at you and you want to duck the fire, you just get behind your physical couch." 

The Quest 3 is being released three years after the Quest 2, but within 12 months of release of the much pricier Quest Pro and the announcement of the even more expensive Apple Vision Pro

No New Zealand release details have been announced for the new smart glasses, which incorporate the new Meta AI assistant features and can livestream broadcasts of what a user is seeing directly to Facebook and Instagram.