Welcome back to Spatial Beats. This week, we look at the proliferation of the metaverse. First there was cyberspace. Then, there was the world wide web (WWW). Now, it’s the Metaverse. Facebook CEO Zuckerberg defined it on an earnings call with analysts earlier this week. “What is the metaverse? It’s a virtual environment where you can be present with people in digital spaces. You can kind of think of this as an embodied internet that you’re inside of rather than just looking at.”

Following the pronouncement, Facebook launched a new division to begin the development of said Metaverse. Instagram product head Vishal Shah and Facebook Gaming’s Vivek Sharma and Jason Rubin will be leading the new group, which will report to Andrew Bosworth, head of Facebook Reality Labs. FRL has acquired half a dozen VR content companies in the past eighteen months, and there are some impressive social VR efforts that might make tempting targets.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is focused on its “enterprise metaverse,” said CEO Satya Nadella in the company’s earnings call on Tuesday. “At this rate, we won’t even be surprised if John Deere began pitching the prospect of a FarmVille-inspired tractor metaverse,” commented Morningbrew Emerging Tech.

Rezzil Secures $2.75M Investment for Oculus Sports Training App “Player 22.” The UK-based company backed by elite athletes has raised nearly $6 Million to date. Player 22 games are designed to improve cognitive performance, concentration, reaction times, coordination and control.

Rokid’s kickstarter for the Rokid Air, 4K AR Glasses with Voice Control AI Fully Funded in An Hour. The Kickstarter promises delivery in November, 2021. The new Rokid Air seems remarkably similar to the Nreal Light AR glasses. Both tether to Android smartphones and feature apps that enable screen replacement. Rokid Air is $359 on Kickstarter, and will retail at $499. Nreal’s projected price is $600. Both are Chinese companies.

INMO, another Chinese augmented reality company, puts new AR glasses on Indiegogo. They blew past their modest funding goal for the glasses, which will retail for $499.

Facebook Finally Opens Oculus Quest Passthrough Feature to Developers. Full nerd alert here. The pass through (vs. see through) feature on the Quest can now be used by developers. It had previously been only available to hackers like Tony “Skarred Ghost” Vitillo, who breaks down the tech on his blog. The implications are huge for both the Quest and the AR glasses Facebook is developing. The coming together of AR and VR in a single device is one aspect of the putative Metaverse no one is talking about.

Hologate X Next-Gen Free Roam Platform To Debut In September At Hologate World. In a sure sign the pandemic is receding in Europe, the leading supplier of VR rides and shooters for the location-based entertainment industry is going after free roam VR with its own stand-alone location opening this fall in Munich suburb.

What Exactly Is Facebook’s ‘Metaverse’ Group Building? David Heaney of Upload poked around the company’s blogs for insights.

Mark Zuckerberg wants a metaverse.. Does that mean we do too? From the Washington Post.

Virtual Reality Is the Rich White Kid of Technology. JIC you haven’t read a “VR isn’t all that” story lately, Wired has you covered.

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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