Welcome back to Spatial Beats. A relatively slow news week generally follows CES, even virtual CES. But the stories this week bring up three of our favorite topics. How many XR headsets is Apple working on, and when can we get our hands one them? What is up with location-based VR? Between the $299 Oculus Quest, the death of the movie theater, and the COVID stigma on shared headsets, you’d think we wouldn’t be hearing much about this right now. Finally, why in the name of the geek gods is Google shutting down Poly? Google’s own Tilt Brush, an important content creation tool, relies on Poly. We are waiting and hoping and praying a white knight swoops in to rescue Poly like Microsoft rescued AltspaceVR in the VR winter of 2018. Tilt Brush co-creator Patrick Hackett just left Google, too. Not a good sign.
Apple headset to be a pricey, niche VR precursor to eventual AR headset. According to this story in Bloomberg, Apple will soon introduce a VR device for gaming, watching video, and communicating, which means we might get our first real look at it later this year. Apple VR will have much higher resolution than existing VR products on the market, and may have some AR features as well. The story suggests Apple is going for the premium market, with devices priced accordingly. This is likely not the only XR headset Apple is working on.
Wave gets rid of VR app to focus on broader distribution. The company specializes in virtual concerts and events, usually for musical performances. One of the reasons the VR app is shutting down is that part of the app runs on Google Poly which will be sunsetted later this year. Wave plans to return to VR in the future in an even more evolved form, but for now the company is focusing its efforts on live streaming and broadcasting virtual productions to larger audiences.
Rokid unveils Vision 2 AR Headset. The headset will have waveguide optics. In addition, the Vision 2 will not have onboarding power or computing so it will need to be connected to a smartphone, laptop, tablets, or gaming console. Currently, there is not a release date or price though the company mentioned that it plans to target various sectors such as cultural tourism and health industries.
Immersive Tech replaces The VOID. The company just launched a new attraction called UNCONTAINED, which will be the first free-roam, haptic feedback, hyper-immersive VR attraction built for a COVID world in shipping containers. The experience will allow six players to walk around freely and interact with the digital environment as a team, defining their own story with their decisions. The company plans to “fill the void” left by The VOID and even brought on senior members of The VOID executive team. The company plans to IPO in Q2/2021.
Virtuix Announces $100,000 Prize Pool for VR Esports Contests at Family Entertainment Centers. The developer of “Omni Arena,” a four-player full-body VR attraction, aims to attract guests back to entertainment venues after the 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns. The Esports are directly integrated into the attraction and high scores are automatically added to leaderboards in which real money is then distributed to the top ten teams.
Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart to Open Feb. 18th. The supermarket will anchor AREA15’s retail and entertainment complex in Las Vegas. Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart is an immersive art experience with over 50 collaborating visual and musical artists and artist groups from all over the world. Tickets are $30-45 and are available on omegamart.com.
What’s Next After Zoom? This Forbes story explores the current leaders and why they are gaining traction in this crowded category.
Digital games closed out 2020 with $12.0B in December, which was 15% growth from the prior year and the highest monthly revenue total ever. Mobile earnings were up 5% year-over-year and console earnings grew 16%. PC games revenue, however, jumped 40% largely thanks to the release of Cyberpunk 2077.
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.