Welcome back to Spatial Beats. This week we look at the launch of Roooms and several other orbiting parts to the metaverse. Yes, that’s Roooms [sic] with three o’s, for the three dimensions of the metaverse. This topic is not going away.
The Metaverse (to capitalize or not to capitalize?) belongs to everyone, and in many ways is here already, but its definition is still up for grabs. Mark Zuckerberg described it as an internet you look out of, instead look in at. Traditionally it’s meant to be an interconnected virtual world specifically tied to one platform, like Roblox, Rec Room, VR Chat, or AltSpace. Epic games says it’s building a metaverse. We don’t know much about it yet, but presumably it has something to do with its blockbuster game Fortnite, which has over 300 million users. In Ready Player One, that uber platform was The OASIS, a game so easy, so intuitive, and so popular, that everyone, including its competitors, had to have a presence there. Until something like this comes to pass, we’ll continue to see silos connected more loosely. To make it even more complex, Facebook recently added mixed reality to its Horizon Workworms, observing this makes a connection between the physical and virtual world, or physical and metaphysical. Cross-platform browser-based spaces, powered by 5G, will power the first iteration of the metaverse, where headsets are but one of many options to participate. Many people are pushing back, saying this sounds a lot like cyberspace, the world wide web, and ultimately the internet itself. Those people are right. The old will not be replaced by the new, it will be integrated into it. The proof is in the news below.
Roooms Came Out of Stealth Yesterday with $7M XR Collaboration and Conference Platform. The German company also announced it has been selected by AWE as its cross-platform partner for the upcoming live-virtual hybrid conference in Santa Clara, November 9-11. That’s quite an endorsement. The browser based Roooms is a sure challenge to app-based collaboration and conference tool Virbela, which I have described as a simplified Second Life for business. Rooom founder and CEO Hans Elstner says the three o’s in the company name symbolize the 3 dimensions of the metaverse. Rooom environments can accommodate thousands of users simultaneously, on PC, mobile and in a headset. Exclusive features allow users to build their own spaces on the Roooms platform. They provide a 3D object library with furniture, exhibition booths, decoration, and advertising space. The company quietly beta tested with clients like, Carl Zeiss, Deutsche Telekom, DHL, E.ON, Mars, PwC, and Vodafone.
Elodie Games raises $32.5M to build crossplay co-op games. Founded by Riot Games veterans Christina Norman and David Banks, Elody has raised $32.5 million to build crossplay co-op games that run across the PC, consoles, and mobile devices. The Venice, California-based company previously raised $5 million in February 2020, just before the pandemic brought huge changes to gaming. Galaxy Interactive and Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) led the round, and Galaxy’s Sam Englebardt and Andreessen Horowitz’s Jonathan Lai will join Elodie’s board. The round also included investment from Brian Cho of Patron and Chris Ovitz of Electric Ant.
Zoom Support Coming For Facebook’s Horizon VR Workrooms. We thought for a second there that the desktop version of Facebook’s cross-platform Workroom’s video feature might pose some competition for Zoom, but no. Facebook didn’t make a big deal about this because Zoom integration is coming in 2022.
Augmented Therapy closed a seed round of $1.35 million, led by BlueTreeCapital in Pittsburgh, PA. The oversubscribed round included VisionTech Angels, NextAct Fund, KidsX Investor Network, and various Midwestern angel investors, including a Cleveland-based group of female executives. The funds will be used to expand their software development, operations, research, and customer success teams.”
How virtual reality therapy can help make bad memories more manageable. Doctors at the VA and elsewhere are using VR to relieve PTSD and other phobias. VR is also being used as distraction therapy, reducing pain for burn patients and others for whom opiates are the only other options.
Rendever has launched RendeverFit to help seniors overcome social isolation and increase physical activity. On the heels of Rendever’s recent $2M NIH Phase II grant, the company launched the first VR application to merge physical fitness with cognitive fitness and socialization, designed specifically for older adults.
The Carolina Panthers started their 2021 season with mobile AR, revealing a giant virtual panther leaping around Bank of America Stadium.
Online Retailer Chewy Using AR To Dress Up Pets For Halloween. The free app is of course intended to drive traffic to the online retailer’s costume selection. Snap only has filters for pets faces, not full bodies, so this is a first.
Apple and Facebook Are Coming for Your Face Next (NYT/Farhad Majoo)
A New Company With a Wild Mission: Bring Back the Woolly Mammoth (NYT/Carl Zimmer)
China is purging celebrities and tech billionaires. But the problem is bigger than ‘sissy men’ (LA Times/Alice Wu)
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.