Welcome back to Spatial Beats. This week we look at Microsoft’s metaverse moves, Digilens’ big funding, and more Meta metaverse backlash. Let’s dive in…

On Monday, November 1st, at Ignite 2021, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced Mesh for Microsoft Teams. “As the digital and physical worlds come together,” he said, “we are creating an entirely new platform layer, which is the metaverse. In a sense, the metaverse enables us to embed computing in the real world, and the real world into computing, bringing real presence to any digital space.”

Mesh is Microsoft’s collaboration app that merges the users in AR (HoloLens) and VR (AltSpace) with Teams’ 250 million worldwide users. Now people in a video conferences can choose to appear as avatars, or attend video calls from inside VR. C/Net says this could turn Teams into “the Zoom of VR.”

Microsoft Mesh Teams could smother Meta’s Workrooms, which was released prematurely, and has way too much friction. Meta is well aware of this, and plans to connect Workrooms to Zoom. No doubt they are seeking to make Workrooms more accessible when its new Oculus home office feature is live. But. Microsoft is a trusted network with robust security features. Gizmodo says we already work in Microsoft’s office. The most successful consumer technology takes what we’re already doing and makes it much better. Teams are what companies are already doing.

Digilens raises $50 Million for inexpensive AR display tech. The series C round led UDC Ventures, Samsung Ventures, Niantic, Continental AG, Sony Innovation Fund, and Mitsubishi’s Diamond Edge Ventures brings DigiLens’ venture capital haul to date to over $100 million and values the company at $500 M.

The Sandbox blockchain gaming platform raised more than $90 million from SoftBank Group. Players create avatars and buy digital land and assets which can be monetized in-game and converted into currency. This follows similar funding for blockchain game Axie Infinity that recently raised $152 million Series B led by Andreessen Horowitz, valuing the young company at $3 billion.

Meta Buys Developer of Supernatural. Within joins six other successful developers of Quest content, including Beat Saber, Population: One and Onward, that the company has purchased in the last two years.

Metaverse social app Flickplay raises $5M. The wallet app for digital art and collectibles. Users acquire collectibles using an interactive AR map of their surroundings. The company’s previous seed round netted them around $1.5 M. Investors include Lightspeed Ventures, Abstract VC, and Long Journey VC.

Blippar, the no code AR game engine for brands, announced the integration of Simultaneous Location and Mapping (SLAM) into its Blippbuilder. Experiences are delivered via browser using WebAR, no app download required.

Augmented World Expo is on in Santa Clara Next Week, November 9-11. The granddaddy of Immersive Media Festivals is back in the real (and online) with over 5,000 fully vaxxed and masked humans live and in person. The conference features over 300 speakers and a 100,000 sf expo floor.

The Mega Meta Metaverse Backlash: There are so many of these I had to stop linking them…

It’s Not Up To Zuck. (Washington Post Editorial Board)

Founding CTO of Oculus, the legendary John Carmak, isn’t convinced Meta Is Doing The Metaverse right. “I have been pretty actively arguing against every single metaverse effort that we have tried to spin up internally in the company from even pre-acquisition times… I have pretty good reasons to believe that setting out to build the metaverse is not actually the best way to wind up with the metaverse.” (Ars Technina)

The Metaverse is Mark Zuckerberg’s Escape Hatch. To understand why Mr. Zuckerberg is going all in, it helps to understand that a successful metaverse pivot could help solve at least four big, thorny problems Facebook faces here in the terrestrial world. (NY Times)

What the metaverse will (and won’t) be, according to 28 experts (Fast Company).

Mark Zuckerberg, Meta promise a metaverse that video game companies are already building (Washington Post)

The Real Reason Facebook Changed Its Name. Mark Zuckerberg wants to be the hero of the metaverse because he knows Facebook is boring. (The Atlantic)

The case against Mark Zuckerberg: Insiders say Facebook’s CEO chose growth over safety. The SEC has been asked to probe whether Mark Zuckerberg’s ironclad management style, described in newly released documents and by insiders, led to disastrous outcomes. (Washington Post).

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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