Welcome back to Spatial Beats. This week, we look at Nreal’s new funding, Niantic’s strategic moves and the latest VR releases. Let’s dive in…

Nreal Raises $100 Million. China-based Nreal created a sensation in the spring of 2019 when it announced its AR smart glasses would retail for under $500. With previous raises of $15 M and $40 M, the company built a factory in Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province, China, that can produce as many as one million units a year by the end of 2020. So far Nreal has launched MR (Mixed Reality) Nreal Light glasses in Korea with LG Uplus cellular, Japan with carrier Kddi, and Vodafone in Germany and Spain. Chi Xu, CEO of Nreal, told CNBC that the US and China would launch in 2022. The Nreal Light glasses tether to a 5G Android smart phone, and are also capable of VR. Investors include NIO Capital, Yunfeng Capital, Hongtai Aplus, CPE, GP Capital, GL Ventures, and Sequoia Capital China. The investment values the company at $700 million, comparable to publicly traded AR glasses company, Vuzix.

Niantic is shutting down its AR Catan game after a year of early access. While its Pokemon Go continues to print money, Niantic searches for a hit to call its own.

Quill Spins Out of Facebook In Hands of its Creator. The virtual reality illustration and animation tool for PC VR was created by Iñigo Quilez, the developer who created the app, rebranded the tool as Quill by Smoothstep. The Quill Theater app will be renamed “VR Animation Player.” This follows Google’s shedding its VR building tool Tilt Brush, which was put on github.

Free Harry Potter Fan-Generated SeekerVR (100% Unofficial) Game Garners Great Reviews. So much so that its creator, who calls himself Team Eldrich, has chosen to remain anonymous. Fly around this detailed spatial rendering of Hogworts. Compete in the famous game on a flying broomstick. Nab the Quaffle. The free unofficial Harry Potter Quidditch VR game can be downloaded here.

The Men In Black Are Back, and In VR. Dreamscape Immersive announced it will open “Men In Black: First Assignment” at its flagship location in Westfield Century City on Friday, October 1, 2021. The Blu is set to swim into the deep to make room for the famous franchise. Users suit up as agents, swap sunglasses for a VR headset, and embark on alien-fighting free-roam adventure.

Stageverse Debuts With Immersive Music Concert You Can Watch With Friends in VR. Their social VR app for Oculus Quest, iOS, and Android allows users to enjoy music and other events together as fully embodied avatars in 360 video environments. The company, founded in 2017 by CEO Tim Ricker and COO Claire Seidler, has raised $7.5 million in funding from angel investors like former CEO of J.P. Morgan, Bill Harrison, and Joubin Mirzadegan of Kleiner Perkins.

Utopia VR Launches it’s meeting platform. Following on the heels of Facebook’s Horzion Workrooms, Canadian upstart Utopia VR just launched in the App Store. The company website mirrors the app, which means users can access Utopia VR directly from a PC, laptop, tablet or VR headset without downloading the app. Utopia VR’s Android version is anticipated to be released in Q1 of 2022. Users can attend meetings, make presentations, personalize their own environment, or use one of the many provided for free.

Oculus Takes Over of Manhattan

New Technology Walkers has announced today that a free demo of its fitness game “HitMotion: Reloaded” with a special passthrough mode has been released worldwide on SideQuest VR. The game had previously been released as a virtual reality game on App Lab, but now a demo that implements the new experimental Oculus Passthrough APIs has been made available on SideQuest.

Rhythm of the Universe – Ionia for Quest 2 and Playstation VR from Epic Mega Grant recipient Rotu can now be found in all VR app stores. Ionia’s achievements in art, sound, and design won multiple nominations at the Raindance Film Festival, several Indigo Design Awards, an Epic MegaGrant, and Ionia was an official selection at 2020’s Cannes XR Development Showcase. Rotu plans to set a series of cinematic stories in the Avatar-like alien world, which is full of sentient creatures threatened with extinction.

Facebook’s Big Glasses Mistake – Not Working With Instagram (Adario Strange/Next Reality News)

Why these Facebook research scandals are different. How the company found itself in its biggest crisis since Cambridge Analytica (Casey Newton/Platformer)

A Short History of Every Time Tim Cook Mentions AR. In September 2021, he went as far as to call himself “AR fan number one.” (Kim Lyons/The Verge)

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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