Welcome back to Spatial Beats. This week, Oculus goes under the microscope along with other Facebook properties. See the full roundup below.
Facebook might be forced to sell Instagram and WhatsApp. The Federal Trade Commission, with bipartisan support, will seek to break up the company due to antitrust charges.
There’s some grumbling about the closed Oculus VR ecosystem as well, entirely undeserved at the moment since FB is doing more to develop the VR medium, in a safe and responsible way, than anyone. The use of Facebook’s algorithm to control behavior is a much more pressing problem. The company holds democracy in its hands. Is everyone okay with that? Because that is not okay. Just because we all like their free services and cheap headsets do not give Mark Zuckerberg the right to control democracy. This isn’t about Zuck’s trustworthiness. Anyone who wants to wield this kind of power should automatically be disqualified.
Unintended consequences are running rampant at Facebook. The monopoly suit is a sideshow, distracting us from the main attraction. YouTube has similar problems. They give us what we like, even if it’s lies and propaganda, and limit what we don’t like. Good for selling T-shirts, bad for society.
Vodafone to launch Nreal Light glasses across Europe. The augmented reality glasses will be able to run on Vodafone’s 5G network. The Nreal Light will launch first in Germany and Spain in Spring 2021. No word yet on the US launch, originally projected for fall 2020. 5G is rolling out more slowly in the States.
Mojo Vision and Menicon announce a joint development agreement on Smart Contact Lens products. The partnership hopes to focus on each company’s expertise, dealing with contact lens materials, fitting, cleaning, and other topics. Mojo Vision is currently developing the first AR contact lens, called Mojo Lens.
Snap hosts Lens Fest, a public global AR festival to support AR creators and developers. Some of the announcements include Snap investing $3.5m to support AR creators and developers in 2021, a Lens studio update, and new Lens training courses for students. Lastly, Snap is working on a new project with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to create AR monuments and murals around the city.
Sandbox VR comes out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy after reorganization. The location-based VR company, which had a Star Trek: Experience and in-house developed games, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August. The financial move freed the company to renegotiate or exit existing leases. It also took down many celebrity investors. Oooops.
Arthur Technologies announced it raised $2.5m in seed funding to expand the growth of the company’s VR collaboration software. The round was led by Silicon Valley venture capitalist firm Draper Associates. Arthur plans to launch a beta of its software for enterprises and eventually expand to iOS and Android mobile devices.
Digital artist Sutu partnered with electronic music artist deadmau5 to release a new audio-reactive digital art non-fungible token (NFT). NFTs allow digital creations including art and music to be verified as scarce, authentic assets on the Ethereum blockchain. The animated artwork, paired with the track SATRN, inspired Sutu to create a golden space station “bathing in the twilight on the moon of Titan.” This original artwork can be purchased on Super Rare.
This Week in XR is now a podcast hosted by Paramount’s Futurist Ted Schilowitz and Charlie Fink, the author of this weekly column. You can find it on podcasting platforms Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube. Watch the latest episode below.
Charlie Fink is an author and futurist focused on spatial computing. See his books here. Spatial Beats contains insights and inputs from Fink’s collaborators including Paramount Pictures futurist Ted Shilowitz.