Welcome back to Spatial Beats. This week, we look at the ongoing metaverse mania. I was thirty years too early for the party so it’s sadly anti-climactic for me. I learned long ago it’s going to take years to sort this out. If that is even possible. Will the Metaverse be browser-based or app-based? What’s the role of AR in the Metaverse? Nobody knows. Not Zuck. Not Tim Sweeney. Not Tim Cook.

One Metaverse already exists. Second Life, a web-based 3D virtual world, has been popular for two decades. It still has a million monthly users. It has an economy. People buy and sell virtual real estate and digital goods. It is spatial (3D). It has persistence. It is social. You have an avatar, your embodied presence, to customize as you wish. Second Life may already be a Metaverse. But, as we know, it is not the Metaverse. The distinction is incredibly important.

There are even more developing Metaverses. These include VR Chat, Facebook’s Horizon, Rec Room, AltSpaceVR, and Roblox. Epic Games raised a billion dollars for a Metaverse they will presumably build on Fortnite which, with 350 million users, is many times larger than everyone else put together. These are all growing quickly and raising tons of money. But, again, none of these is the Metaverse.

Here are a few things I know are true about the Metaverse. You will have a secure personal identity, and you will move seamlessly from place to place, just as you move from website to website. It will be spatial, 3D, and any device with a browser, including the humble smartphone, will be able to access it. A headset won’t be a requirement. It has to be social. It has to have an economy, which means ways to make and sell stuff. Which is the reason most anybody makes or does anything.

And now, the news…

The Glimpse Group Rang The Bell. The company of XR companies is listed on the NASDAQ as VRAR. Seeking Alpha called them “the market’s only pure-play VR AR investment.”

Thirdverse raises $20 million for VR Games. The company’s titles include “Swords of Gargantua,” and “Kunimitsu.” Serial entrepreneur Hironao Kunimitsu, who took mobile game publisher Brave Frontier public in 2014, and also started the Virtual Reality Fund, Gumi Cryptos Capital, and several VR incubators, has been named CEO.

TetaVi Raises $20 Million For Its Metaverse-Focused Computer Vision Tech. The Israeli company uses a streamlined volumetric capture method augmented with AI to create photorealistic 3D objects. The round was led by Insight Partners. Previous seed rounds raised $15M, bringing total funding to $35 M.

ByondXR secures $7M seed funding to expand its 3D and AR virtual shopping offering for the e-commerce market. The company has developed a web-based extended reality (XR) platform to build photorealistic versions of showrooms, and homes.

Niantic acquires 3D scanning app Scaniverse. Scaniverse is a freemium iPhone/iPad app for scanning objects and environments in high-resolution 3D. Niantic is going to keep it in the app store and will make its previously premium features free. This is Niantic’s latest acquisition in the 3D mapping space, having acquired 6D.ai last year and Escher Reality the year before that.

Fortnite’s Ariana Grande concert offers a taste of music in the metaverse. 12.3 Million people joined the pop star in a custom-designed world where they were able to play along with the music. This critic raved about it.

Why Silicon Valley is betting on making this dystopian sci-fi idea a reality. CNN for business.

Niantic Founder Calls Metaverse a ‘Dystopian Nightmare.’ IGN

Techies think we’re on the cusp of a virtual world called ‘the metaverse’. I’m skeptical. Sean Monahan says his son is 1000x more interested in Roblox than VR.

Virtual production and the metaverse: Latest buzzwords or the future of our industry? Great story about virtual production, which is taking Hollywood by storm. I have no idea what it has to do with a/the metaverse.

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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