Welcome back to Spatial Beats. This week, we look at the ongoing development of the metaverse — still a conceptual framework but an important (if overused) topic for the spatial future.
Tim Sweeny defines the Metaverse. In a long article in the Washington Post, Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney says the Metaverse is an evolution of how we interact with brands, IP, and others. It will be an “online playground” where users can play games together one minute, and attend a football game the next. He had particular venom for Apple, Facebook and Google. “As we get out of this, everybody is going to realize, ‘Okay we spent the last decade being taken advantage of,’” said Sweeny.
Supersocial Secures $5.2 Million in Seed Funding to build “iconic metaverse experiences” on Roblox. The Columbus, OH based developer has previously published popular games like Ghostopia on the platform. The round was led by Initial Capital. Other investors include Griffin Gaming Partners, Warner Music Group, Marc Benioff’s TIME Ventures, LightShed Ventures, Powerhouse Capital, and Aream & Co.
Nreal’s new AR smartglasses are made for binge watching TV. Lower powered and lower priced than the Nreal’s $600 Light AR glasses, the Nreal Air will allow users to watch video, a real edge over Facebook’s new Ray-Ban Stories or Snap Specs, which allow users to capture video, but not to watch it. The new Nreal Air will be launched in Asia next year.
Facebook Announces $50M Research & Partnership Fund to “build the metaverse responsibly.” Facebook created a furor over the summer when it announced the development of the Metaverse. Because the company has been so spectacularly bad at predicting and mitigating unintended consequences, they’re spending $50 million to see if that can be avoided in the Metaverse.
Adario Strange Visited Vuzix CEO Paul Travers. The respected XR journalist made the trek to Rochester, NY, for an inside look at where the wearable magic happens at the Vuzix (NASDAQ: VUZI) factory. The company makes AR glasses for industrial use, and has come to be regarded as a legitimate competitor to Microsoft and Google in the enterprise space. Their value has tripled during the pandemic.
Rec Room launches Rec Room Rally driving game. Multiplayer vehicle racing finally comes to Rec Room, and it looks awesome. Like all the games on Rec Room, free.
The BFI London Film Festival Features LFF Expanded. The XR track of the venerable festival features 18 360-videos and immersive works across a mixture of disciplines including interactive virtual reality (VR), 360 films, augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and live immersive performance. Because of this mixture, the majority of the programme can only be experienced in person, with a selection of the works viewable online via The Expanse, all available to audiences globally for free. LFF Expanded runs from 6-17 October 2021.
FIVARS heads to Hollywood. The 8th FIVARS Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories, is set to run October 15-17th in West Hollywood, California, followed by a browser-based immersive virtual festival featuring 360 video projects from around the globe on October 22nd through November 2nd. FIVARS started in 2015 in Toronto, running alongside TIFF – Toronto International Film Festival and has launched over 300 original experiences during that time.
One Man’s Endless Hunt for a Dopamine Rush in Virtual Reality. A profile of a long time VR user reveals frustration, disappointment, and optimism. (Cade Metz/NY Times)
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.