Welcome back to Spatial Beats. Facebook’s XR (AR + VR + wearables) efforts are at the top of the tech news again this week with the launch of its highly anticipated smartglasses, elegantly designed by Luxottica, Ray-Ban Stories. The new wearable combines aspects of the original Snap Spectacles, recording 30 second clips for sharing on Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp, with audio smartglasses like Bose Frames and Amazon Echo Frames, which are great for listening to music and making phone calls. There is no display, so calling them “AR” smartglasses is generous. The $299 price tag is cheap at first glance, but when you consider the cost of adding prescription lenses, the cost quickly doubles. There will be much better devices on the market within the next couple of years, so these will shortly meet your old Oculus Go (launched in May, 2018) in the box in the back of the closet.
It’s possible Instagram influencers will find Ray-Ban Stories useful. The company’s demo videos show Facebook executives enjoying summer fun and acting like regular folks (cringe worthy) captured with Ray-Ban Stories. Facebook’s social media properties depend on user generated content like that. The easier it is for more users to generate that content, the more of that content there will be. The success of Ray-Ban Stories isn’t only about how many are sold, but who they are sold to, and how much additional media they produce with this new platform.
To its credit, Facebook Reality Labs is fearless. Ray Ban Stories may not be much more than a beautifully designed future trivia question but it keeps them in the game. They are learning. Learning is expensive, but not as expensive as the alternative, which is not learning. Lucas Matney of Techcrunch was even more generous when he said “Ray-Ban Stories feel more self-aware and restrained as though the company knew exactly what use cases they needed to hit, and stopped themselves from trying to do much more than that.” This is true. Facebook never over-promised on this one.
Everyone is writing about it. With really catchy headlines, and way less sympathy, too.
Smart Glasses Made Google Look Dumb. Now Facebook Is Giving Them a Try. The company has teamed up with Ray-Ban to create glasses that can take photos, record video, answer phone calls and play podcasts. (Mike Isaac/NYT)
Facebook On Your Face. Hands-on with Facebook and Ray-Ban’s first pair of smart glasses (Alex Heath/The Verge)
Ray-Ban and Facebook pitch smart glasses amid metaverse boom. They used the M-word :/ Will Facebook’s Smartglasses catch on as fashion? (Maghan McDowell/Vogue Business).
Apple must allow other forms of in-app purchases, rules judge in Epic v. Apple. As we predicted when the fracas blew up earlier this year, both sides didn’t get what they wanted. Apple must allow Epic and others to sell in-game merch without commission within 90s days. Even though it will be allowed in 90s days, Epic did breach its contract by selling directly to customers, violating its contract with Apple. Epic must now pay Apple three and a half million bucks. Finally, Apple’s app store model was deemed not to be a monopoly, a point Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney acknowledged was a loss for their side.
Popular Houseparty app is shutting down in October. It’s now out of the app stores. Current users will lose access next month. Houseparty was purchased by Epic Games in 2019, and exploded in popularity during the pandemic. Epic says “the team behind Houseparty is working on creating new ways to have meaningful and authentic social interactions at metaverse scale across the Epic Games family.”
Venture capitalist Matthew Ball explains his ‘metaverse’ vision. Here he touts Apple and Facebook, and trumpets crypto in a new interview. Ball’s the author of what we call the metaverse manifesto and launched the Roundhill-Ball Metaverse ETF (NYSE: META).
Dr. Crumb’s School For Disobedient Pets is back! Adventures in VR hosted by live-improv actors. Up to eight pets can be disciplined together in a single simulation for just $75. Per our review, this is the best live entertainment (and game!) you’re going to find this side of Hamlton. Book here.
Jesse Schell’s I Expect You To Die 2: The Spy and the Liar surpassed $1 million in revenue less than one week after its launch on August 24.
Space Pirate Trainer DX. Below is the demo of the first warehouse scale gameplay on the Oculus Quest 2.
Will the metaverse bring the second coming of Second Life? (Dean Takahasi/Venture Beat)
The Fashion Exec’s Guide to the Metaverse. (Maghan McDowell)
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.