Welcome back to Spatial Beats. The busy news week reflects the momentum of immersive technologies as talk of the metaverse continues to dominate both tech and business news. Meta isn’t the only company spending billions. Microsoft acquired Zenimax last year for $7.5 B. The Activision deal is ten times the size. This immediately puts the company in popular game metaverses and, more importantly in the short term, rapidly growing Esports leagues.

Microsoft Buys Activision for $75 B. Activision/Blizzard, home to mega-game franchises “Call of Duty,” and “World of Warcraft,” has been struggling with labor issues, and approached Microsoft. Xbox is 4th largest game company and Activision is #6. They will have combined revenue of around $16 B, just behind Tencent and Sony. This is going to be a real test of Microsoft’s political power, as regulatory scrutiny is certain. As a result, the deal could take a year or more to close.

Apple Delays XR Headsets Amidst Rumors of Technology and Supply Chain Issues. To the extent that something unannounced can be delayed, Bloomberg has confirmed the highly anticipated Apple HMD won’t be introduced for another year – or more. This will give Meta more time to develop the market, introduce higher end devices, and its metaverse, without competitive pressure.

Apple said to have ruled out a metaverse for its mixed reality headset. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said Apple has rejected the idea of a metaverse for its long-rumored mixed reality headset. The very idea is “off limits,” Gurman’s sources claimed. The focus will be on telepresence, games, and media.

Google Is Building An AR Headset. Funny headline from the Verge, considering Google has made a decent business selling it’s low cost assisted reality glasses, Google Glass 2, to enterprises all over the world. They also purchased Amazon-backed North, which withdrew from the consumer market they tentatively entered in 2019. Google’s project Iris is supposedly something new to compete with Meta and Apple.

Yahaha Studios raised $50M For Roblox-like Game Creator platform, launching later this year. The Espoo, Finland-based startup (R&D is in Shanghai) was founded by veterans from Unity, Microsoft and EA. The company says it is building a no-code “metaverse for games.”

How Summit Engine Powered Remote CES. Websummit is licensing the app it made for its own mega conferences.

Upload VR Gives Nreal Light Smartglasses A Good to Mixed Review. No surprises here. If you’re a software developer or other first adopter, they say the Nreal Light is a solid first iteration of AR glasses. For mainstream consumers, AR HMDs like the Nreal still present too much friction for too little benefit, and the $599 price is only attractive if you already own an expensive compatible 5G Android phone.

AR Smart Glasses For Enterprise And Consumers: A Conversation With Vuzix’s Paul Travers. Vuzix has been making both assisted and augmented reality glasses for over a decade and is one of the key players in enterprise XR. Founder Paul Travers is a down to earth visionary whose headsets are used by industries all over the world.

Go Rams! The LA Rams shut out the Cardinals last night in Wild Card Weekend, and to celebrate the big win, the team has collaborated with the developers at Immersiv.io to create a brand-new augmented reality Lens only available on Snap’s next-generation Spectacles.

Sundance New Frontiers VR festival opens today. The festival runs through January 27th. It’s $50 for an explorer pass, which give you access to all 15 XR projects. Five experiences require only a standard PC, while three require a high end tethered VR system.There are two mobile apps and five VR experiences for the Quest. Users enter The New Frontier Gallery to access the works, which include two live performances, Cosmogony, in which 3 dancers are motion captured in Geneva and projected remotely in real time and Suga, which is about the seventeenth century slave trade. Suga also features live dance performance as volumetric video in a social virtual reality space.

The 2nd Annual GamesBeat and Facebook Gaming Summit and GamesBeat: Into the Metaverse 2. The three day virtual conference is free and begins on January 25th. GamesBeat’s lead writer, Dean Takahashi, will lead day 2 and 3 “Into the metaverse 2.”

BRCvr Free Film Festival Feb 5, 2022. This festival can be experienced in 3D and 2D across VR, desktop, tablet, and mobile. Anchored by three major Burning Man themed documentaries, each film will be shown, followed by an audience Q & A with moderation across the metaverse, and then an after-party mixer with live world-class DJ’s.

The National Theatre in partnership with Microsoft, has launched today All Kinds of Limbo XR featuring artist Nubiya Brandon. Audiences worldwide can experience the same musical performance simultaneously in a number of different ways: via a Virtual Reality headset, as Augmented Reality on a phone or tablet, or as a desktop experience. Tickets are on sale for £6.

The metaverse will be buzzing in 2022 (Kolawole Samuel Adebayo/VentureBeat)

The race to build AR glasses is heating up, and Samsung is surprisingly quiet. The South Korean tech giant made a name for itself early on primarily through its line of Gear VR smartphone-based headsets, which launched in 2014. But companies like Meta, Microsoft and Snap have made bigger strides in the past couple of years. (CNet/Lisa Eadicicco)

Chipmakers are set to be ‘winners’ as the metaverse takes off. The metaverse, which requires a massive amount of computing power, is set to benefit global chipmakers— but other tech-related industries could also gain from it, analysts say. (CNBC/Weizhen Tan)

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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