Welcome back to Spatial Beats. The Oculus app was number one in the app store this holiday season. Because App downloads are a proxy for headset sales (users need to tether the Quest to a smartphone), the company formerly known as Facebook may have sold as many as two million Quest 2 VR headsets.
Rec Room nabs another $145M in funding. The round values the company at $3.5B. Investors must see a budding Roblox (valuation $58 B) in the social game platform, which has exploded in popularity during the pandemic (after adding iOs and Android). The round was led by Coatue Management, with participation from existing investors Sequoia Capital, Index Ventures, and Madrona Venture Group.
$13M Funding For Ready Player Me Avatar System. We continue to believe the avatar and its associated “backpack” of digital assets, costumes, currency, etc. will be your most valuable asset in the Metaverse. So we weren’t surprised to see the company formerly known as Facebook generously offering its shiny new avatar system to developers. But Wolf3D got there first and now has over 1,000 platforms integrating its avatar system. The round was led by Taavet+Sten, with participation from Konvoy Ventures, NordicNinja, and Tom Preston-Werner, co-founder of Github.
Space Metaverse raises $7M to build virtual worlds for arts and commerce. The company provides tools for users to design their own virtual spaces. Users can display their own virtual goods for purchase or conduct live events. “Space is building the Shopify for the metaverse to enable creators to sell their digital items in a turn-key fashion,” said Space founder Batis Samadian. Investors include Coinfund, Dapper Labs, Animoca Brands, Digital Currency Group, HOF Capital.
Mystic Moose Raises $5 Million To Build Blockchain Game Metaverse. The Boston-based developer unveiled Planet Mojo, a browser based suite of interconnected games, beginning with a 3D take on Auto Chess. Featuring Player vs. Player (PvP) and Play-to-Earn mechanics, Planet Mojo will also use Augmented Reality elements and have a charitable eco-friendly component. The seed round is led by Animoca Brands, with participation from Courtside Ventures, Republic Crypto, Alameda, AU21, Sfermion, Polygon Studios, Collab+Currency, Sky Vision Capital, Spartan Capital, HyperEdge, Momentum6, Fourth Revolution Capital
Littlstar Is Now RAD With NFTs For Entertainment Industry. Company announced the launch of its non-fungible token (NFT) platform, Rad NFTv, for streaming video, creators, and entertainment-based NFTs. The platform allows creators in sports, music, film, television, and beyond to launch NFT projects, fund shows, and provide access to video content on devices like PlayStation and Google TV.
Bhaptics Bringing $299 Haptic Gloves to Quest. The gloves have tiny actuators on the fingertips. Combined with hand-tracking on Quest 2 and HoloLens 2 they are said to deliver a powerful illusion.
Mawari’s $20 Billion Dollar Codec. The company provides an algorithm that enables 3D streaming by moving rendering off the device and into the cloud.
The BBC’s technology correspondent Marc Cieslak breaks down the Metaverse. He does a pretty good job. Video features Meta VR head Andrew Bosworth and Microsoft’s Alex Kipman.
A Year of Metaverse Hype Culminates With Baidu’s Launch of “XiRang.” Baidu CEO, Chairman and Co-Founder Robin Li declared a “golden decade of AI” at the Chinese tech giant’s annual developers conference, Baidu Create 2021. This year’s iteration was held entirely in the chrome-hued digital XiRang (‘Land of Hope’), Baidu’s metaverse play.
The Metaverse Land Rush Is an Illusion (Eric Ravenscraft/WIRED)
Everybody Into the Metaverse! Virtual Reality Beckons Big Tech. (Cade Metz/NY Times)
In 2021, tech talked up ‘the metaverse.’ One problem: It doesn’t exist. (Will Oremus/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.