Welcome back to Spatial Beats. This week we look at Fortnite’s billion-dollar metaverse, surgical robots, XR art, immersive concerts and Nvidia’s latest. Let’s dive in… 

Epic Games Plants Metaverse Flag On Fortnite Island. The maker of the mega-hit game and Unreal Engine game development platform has landed another cool billion in a new round of funding. The company says they’re building the metaverse, an interconnected platform for games, e-commerce, social media and entertainment. It values Epic at $28.7 billion, but a public offering might bring 5x that number. This kind of late stage, more mature money from Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, GIC, T. Rowe Price Associates, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, BlackRock, Park West, KKR, AllianceBernstein, Altimeter, Franklin Templeton, and Luxor Capital, suggests a public offering of an epic (not a pun) nature may be imminent.

Nvidia introduces the Omniverse. This almost got past us as it was introduced at at Nvidia’s GTC conference earlier this week and it seemed a bit too “inside baseball,” but this story shows how it’s not. This metaverse for engineers, based on open-source platform from Pixar, is enabling BMW to test a real factory as a digital twin before building its twin IRL.

Vicarious Surgical hopes to raise $460M for their VR surgery platform. The company plans on going public on the NYSE with a $1.1B evaluation. If this happens, they will be the second VR unicorn company. Their surgical robots use VR to bring surgeons inside a patient to do minimally invasive surgery.

Virtualitics secured $18 Million to support the defense industry expand AI-driven analytics and 3D visualization technology. Virtualitics is letting people transport into VR to view data with other users. The Air Force is using Virtualitics for predictive maintenance of aircraft, ensuring military readiness and lower cost.

AmazeVR raises $9.5M to Bring Immersive Concerts to VR. The goal of the company, similar to WaveXR’s now-defunct VR unit, hopes to provide fans close-up personal views of pre-recorded concert content with CGI effects included. The concerts will be coming to VR headsets, pop-up events, and movie theaters later in 2021.

Snapchat brings AR monuments across Los Angeles. The monuments are a partnership between Snap and LACMA to showcase artists and lens creators, celebrating diverse histories across Los Angeles from a variety of different cultures. Those in LA can see the landmarks on their Snap map within the platform, though anyone can experience the AR landmarks from around the world.

Quest 2 is getting a huge update. The update introduces wireless PC VR, 120Hz Refresh, and keyboard and desk tracking. Keyboard and desk tracking allows users to type and mark their desk in their guardian while in VR, bringing to life their virtual office concept from last year. The wireless PC VR, named Air Link, streams VR to your computer, albeit you have an extremely stable Wi-Fi connection.

The Pico NEO 3 Specs were revealed last week. The headset, which will be releasing May 10th, 2021, will have a Snapdragon XR2 chipset (the same chip Oculus 2 has), three IPD adjustments, four wide-angle cameras for positioning and capturing, a curved 90Hz screen, and a WiFi 6 antenna. The headset will be released outside of Asia sometime during the summer.

VZfit launches on the Oculus app store. VirZOOM, the company behind the app, is dedicating to transforming the exercise VR space. The app allows users to workout and experience the world on Oculus Quest 1 and 2. Users can connect their headset to most smart bikes or workout through a full-body exercise.

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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