Welcome back to Spatial Beats. This week, we look at Snap’s latest lens craze, Niantic’s next AR gaming title, new XR funding and more Facebook/Oculus acquisitions. Let’s dive in…
E3, the big trade event for the video game industry, concluded this week. The Entertainment Software Association organizes and presents E3, which many developers, publishers, hardware and accessory manufacturers use to introduce and advertise upcoming games and game-related merchandise to retailers and to members of the press. The games industry is now bigger than movies and music combined. VR and AR are still only a tiny part of that.
The Tribeca Immersive Awesome List is out. The title is a bit of a misnomer because the most awesome thing about the awesome list is The Tribeca Film Festival itself, which highlights the XR media as part of its twenty-year mission to bring together visionaries across media to celebrate the power of storytelling. Top prizes went to “Kasunda” (Storyscapes), and “The Changing Same” (Narrative XR).
Palmer Lucky’s $4 B Defense Company, Anduril, raises $450M Series D. The proceeds will be used, in Lucky’s words, “to turn American and allied warfighters into invincible technomancers who wield the power of autonomous systems to safely accomplish their mission.” The company’s drone networks use XR tech for border and force protection among other missions. Hopefully not like the Slaughterbots in the infamous video above.
Oculus buys it’s fifth VR content company, Downpour Interactive, maker of “Population One,” the “Fortnite” of VR. Oculus seems to be buying its most successful developers, having previously purchased Beat Games (developer of Beat Saber), Sanzaru Games (Asgard’s Wrath maker), Lone Echo maker Ready at Dawn, and, most recently, Big Box Interactive, maker of multiplayer sim Onward. Who’s next? VR Chat? Rec Room?
MIT Open Documentary Lab (ODL/USA) has partnered with LucidWeb (Belgium) to make a unique selection of award-winning 360º films by internationally renowned studios & VR content creators available for one year. Through the lab’s platform Docubase, a curated database of the people, projects, and technologies transforming documentary in the digital age, a global audience now has free access across desktop, mobile and virtual reality headsets, including the latest standalone devices such as the Oculus Quest 2.
Making yourself into a Pixar character is a thing. People have been using Viola’s AR app, which gives you the option of making a 3D cartoon, Renaissance painting, 2D cartoon or caricature from your photo. Snapchat’s new Cartoon 3D Style Lens, takes it a step further, showing what a modern day princess looks like (watch here), performing a one-person show of Frozen (watch here) and Toy Story (watch here). The Lens is available globally in Snapchat’s Lens Carousel.
MMO-like ‘A Township Tale’ Coming to Oculus Quest on July 15th. The game allows up to eight simultaneous players on Quest to experience a persistent world designed for adventure, discovery, crafting, and a sense of community participation.
Niantic announces new Transformers AR game, coming later this year. The maker of Pokemon Go, whose Lightship platform also powers Warner Bros’ “Harry Potter” mobile AR title, will join forces with toymakers Hasbro and Tomy and developer Very Very Games.
Smash Drums is now available in the Oculus Quest App Lab for $19.99. Users rock their way through the fire and flames in many destructible environments, including a prison, an office, the Moon. Drum hard!
How Far Away Is The Oasis? (VR Focus)
Former Magic Leap SVP John Gaeta on his former employer. (Next Reality News) It’s not much of a shocker, though. Magic Leap tried to do too much and the Plantation, Florida location didn’t help. $3 B is a lot of money, but hardly enough to match the vision of founder Rony Abovitz, who was up against the likes of Microsoft and Facebook.
Killed By Google: A web site listing all the initiatives Google has thrown overboard, including Tilt Brush, Daydream, and many other XR applications.
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.