Welcome back to Spatial Beats. Meta suffered a 30% drop in its stock price, precipitated by a host of woes: slowing growth, Apple’s new privacy rules, regulatory hell, competition from Tik-Tok, and a commitment to invest ten billion dollars a year willing the loosely defined Metaverse into existence. The deeply felt schadenfreude in the tech press around everything Facebook birthed a bitter editorial by Lucas Matney in Techcrunch, who said VR was heading for another “trough of disillusion” (a fall from favor, often recovered later). VR suffered such a dip in 2017 and 2018 before the release of the Quest. But today the VR numbers are good. Meta sold ten million Quests, and people are using them. They’ve sold over a billion dollars in software. The tech is getting better. Even with FB being punished, Sony and Apple are very much in the game. But the hits on XR keep coming. A report from Business Insider said Microsoft’s AR group is in disarray.
Are Microsoft’s Mixed-Reality Dreams In Danger? Gizmodo helped us out by re-reporting the Business Insider story, which is behind a paywall. Apparently over twenty five developers in the Microsoft XR group have been poached by Meta. Insiders say the company wants Samsung and other OEMs to make the HoloLens so Microsoft can focus on software. The story also said development of the consumer version of the HoloLens was canceled. The Army reportedly put its $480M HoloLens-based IVAS system on hold, but both the Army and Microsoft say development continues.
Microsoft claims HoloLens is ‘doing great’ after reports HoloLens 3 was canceled. “Don’t believe what you read on the Internet,” tweeted Alex Kipman, the head Technical Fellow for AI and Mixed Reality in the Cloud and AI Group at Microsoft.
Tim Cook Revealed Apple’s Plan for Expansion into AR/VR. It’s the Opposite of Facebook’s While “metaverse” expansion is en vogue, Tim Cook is taking a hard look at the privacy implications. That’s a very good thing. (Jeff Steen/Inc.)
XR and the Super Bowl: The Foo Fighters held an event in Meta’s Horizon Venues immediately following the Super Bowl, but the experience was plagued by onboarding friction due to popularity. Meta also bought a ten million dollar 60 second ad during the game which you can see below.
Virtuix Omni Arena Announces Its 50th Install. The virtual reality esports attraction announced that it has installed the 50th Omni Arena system nationwide at Yakima Family Fun Center in Yakima, WA. Virtuix also reports that it has already lined up another 25 installs for 2022. Omni Arena is a full-body virtual reality attraction for up to four players, who wear ball bearing overshoes, a harness, and a hard plastic dish to allow players to walk and run around inside video games. To date, Virtuix has paid out over $250,000 in esports prize money to the winners of Omni Arena’s built-in esports competitions.
Danny Cannizzaro, Samantha Gorman and Tender Claws are back with Virtual Reality 2, a sequel to their beloved title for the Google Daydream. The team is also responsible for the critically acclaimed immersive theater production on the Quest, The Under Presents. In this darkly funny action adventure game, pilot your mech body through the chaos of a dying metaverse, rescuing abandoned avatars along the way. Each new avatar-roommate brings unique tools to aid your escape back to meatspace.
Predators in the Metaverse (Will Oremus/Washington Post)
School’s In – In the Metaverse (Rachel Metz/CNN Business)
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.