Welcome back to Spatial Beats. The launch of Facebook Horizon’s Workrooms was the topic of the week last week but the fanfare seems to have died down. It got solid reviews from the tech press. Now, however, reality is photobombing Facebook Reality Labs. Developer and blogger Tony Vitillo says that for all its MR magic Workrooms have way too much friction. With limited features and a number of bugs, this is very much a beta product. People are leery because of past Facebook privacy failures, and because this is Facebook’s third trip to the plate with social VR. But. With 2.5 billion users, the company gets unlimited at-bats. (Yes, I watch too much baseball).

VR developer ForeVR Games today announced it has raised an additional $7 million in seed capital, bringing its total raise to $8.5 million. The studio says it’s going to use the dough to launch more games like its debut title ForeVR Bowl on more platforms. The latest investment was led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from Galaxy Interactive, All Star Capital, Mark Pincus, and Emmett Shear.

XR Training & Gaming Startup Touts $5.2M Investment and Lamar Jackson Partnership. The minority-owned startup StatusPRO is building the Larmar Jackson Experience with the NFL quarterback. The seed round was led by KB Partners and TitletownTech, with participation from Greycroft, Verizon Ventures, Haslam Sports Group, 49ers Enterprises, and SC Holdings, and “additional strategic celebrity investors.”

Venice VR Expanded, the VR section of the Venice Film Festival, opens to the public online on Tuesday, September 1st, and will run through the 19th of September. The Venice VR virtual world, designed by VRrOOm within VRChat, will be the Venice VR Expanded hub—a virtual version of Venice. It’s available to anyone with a VRChat account. Within this virtual world, following the success of the 2020 virtual edition, Venice VR Expanded will feature a brand new section, the Venice VRChat Worlds Gallery, with a selection of 35 virtual worlds, celebrating the creativity of creators using VRChat as a platform to build their own fantasy worlds. Users on Quest can visit these worlds, too. Click here to get tickets for the 37 official festival VR selections. For these, you’ll need a PC-based VR system.

Snapchat upgrades its camera to highlight visual search. The new computer vision feature allows Snapchatters to identify dogs, food, and plants and even use their camera to solve math equations. The Scan feature will also search for clothing to match what the camera sees.

TikTok Testing TikTok Effects Studio, which will allow its users to create AR effects and filters. Facebook/Instagram (through Spark AR) and Snap (through Lens Studio) have huge communities of mobile AR filter creators. Effects Studio is currently in closed beta.

TikTok Owner is acquiring VR Headset Maker Pico. According to Bloomberg, ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns Tik Tok, is in talks to acquire Pico. The Pico VR headset is sold to consumers in China, while in the West it’s primarily used for enterprise applications.

Space Pirate Trainer Arena VR will include warehouse-scale options, and customizable maps. After the free September 9th update, the VR game will expand to allow 2 players wearing Oculus Quest 2 VR Headsets to freely roam in 100 square feet of shared playspace. Free roam VR is the only truly immersive VR because users walk through mixed reality environments using their natural locomotion and touch. This is now only possible wearing a backpack PC and VR headset in special locations like Sandbox VR, Zero Latency, and Dreamscape.

Click here for a list of the stocks held in the Roundhill Ball Metaverse ETF, NYSE: META. These are stocks picked by Matthew Ball, author of the metaverse manifesto. Ball is a former Amazon strategy executive turned investor. The fund’s top five holdings are Nvidia (8.93%), Microsoft (4.91%), Roblox (4.85%), Tencent, majority shareholder of Epic Games (4.80%) and Unity (3.99%).

Jensen Huang interview: The physical world and the metaverse can be connected. Dean Takahasi of Venture Beat has been waiting for the day when the analysts asked Huang about the metaverse. Speaking of Nvidia…

NVIDIA researchers won Best in Show award at SIGGRAPH 2021 for their real-time digital avatar technology. The team proposes using this AI for video conferencing, storytelling, virtual assistants, and more.

I Expect You To Die 2 Released This Week. In this follow up to its enormously popular Oculus Quest escape room, Schell games casts the player as a secret agent armed with telekinetic abilities on a mission to stop Zoraxis, a nefarious global weapons and pharmaceutical corporation.

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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