Welcome back to Spatial Beats. This week, we look at Niantic’s latest AR moves, Verizon’s 5G play and the U.S. Army’s mega-contract with Microsoft for combat-ready Hololenses. Let’s dive in…

US Army Ordered 120,000 AR HMDs based on the HoloLens. This has to be the biggest deal in XR history, worth up to $22 Billion. Microsoft’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) design will enable battlefield IoT, combining drones, full 360 battlespace awareness, target acquisition, identification of friendlies, night vision and thermal imaging into a single heads up display.

Augmedics, Augmented Reality Surgical Image Guidance Pioneer, Raises $36 Million in Series C. Augmedics, a pioneer in augmented reality surgical image guidance, announced it raised $36 M. This comes only eight months after the company closed a $21 million Series B financing, bringing the total funding to date to $63 million.

Verizon and Dreamscape announce 5G partnership and investment. Verizon and Dreamscape Learn will form a 5G innovation lab to develop immersive VR learning experiences for various education levels and environments. And as part of the partnership, Verizon Ventures has taken an equity stake in Dreamscape.

Niantic Teases AR Glasses. Et tu, Niantic? John Hanke, CEO of the Pokémon GO developer, teased with this cryptic shot of Niantic branding on what might be AR smart glasses. Could the company have plans for its own wearable?

Niantic Introduces new mobile AR Game Codenamed Urban Legends. Codename: Urban Legends tech demo is built on the “planet scale” Niantic multiplayer platform that also powers P-Go and Warners’ Harry Potter. The company says they’re “working with our Planet-Scale AR Alliance partners to showcase the power of accelerated connectivity.”

Editor’s Note: Niantic’s concept video for Urban Legends reminds us of previous innovations from Happy Giant, including QuasAR Arena and Cute vs. Chaos (video below captures real gameplay).

Spatial.io Cross-Platform XR Collaboration app announces raft of new features. The company has added thirty-language translation support, iOs Lidar support, and new avatar features

Sam and Max, the Freelance Police, will back in business this summer – in VR. The game comes to Oculus Quest this summer (and other headsets in the following months) and is being developed by HappyGiant with help from Sam & Max creator Steve Purcell, renowned artist Peter Chan, and other LucasArts veterans.

New VR Sculpting Tool Coming to Steam. VR sculpting software Argil, coming to Steam on 21 April for $14.99. Inspired by real sculpting, Argil is an intuitive application that enables quick and effective creation of organic 3D objects.

Over 100,000 Ready Player Me Avatars Were Created This Month for use on VR Chat.

AWE 2021 will be in the real Santa Clara, November 9th -11th. AWE is planning to return to an in-person conference from November 9th to 11th at the Santa Clara Convention Center. The conference, a who’s who of the XR world, has traditionally attracted an international audience of 10,000 attendees.

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.

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