Welcome back to Spatial Beats. This week, we look at Niantic’s big 8th Wall acquisition, Mobile World Congress wraps and South by Southwest kicks off. Let’s dive in…

Niantic Acquires 8th Wall. Founded by Google and Facebook engineering alumni Erik Murphy-Chutorian, 8th Wall’s platform enables the kind of browser-based mobile AR that Niantic is using with its new Lightship AR development platform. Their game engine for the real world won’t need an app. Just a camera and a browser. Niantic, which is responsible for the mega hit Pokemon Go has been acquisition-minded. The mobile AR pioneer most recently acquired spatial mapping company 6D.ai. Before that they gobbled up Escher Reality. Terms of the private transaction were not disclosed.

The metaverse stole the show at the world’s biggest mobile event — and things got weird, says Ryan Brown of CNET. While the vague aspirational term might have been popular at Mobile World Congress, Google searches for both the metaverse and the letters N, F, and T, have fallen off the charts.

FOV Ventures, a European VC fund specializing in the metaverse announced the first close of €16.5m of its target €25m fund. The company was founded by David Haynes, one of the founding team at Soundcloud, and Petri Rahahalme. They will make investments under €500,000 in up to 25 seed companies.

South by Southwest is live today, as is its VR hub. The all-new condensed and fantastical artist’s representations of a melded Congress Avenue and Red River Cultural District, floating in space with unique new features, will once again showcase live panels, meet ups, special events, and more from March 11-19. Newly conceived SXSW venues recreated in the XR Experience world include The Paramount Theatre, the Contemporary Austin, Mohawk, Empire Control Room & Garage, and of course the Moontower, which can be climbed or visited via airborne taxi. SXSW once again worked with world-renowned artists and the social XR events studio VRrOOm to design and produce the festival’s latest virtual elements, which will be hosted on VRChat. XR has its own exhibition hall, and several VR films will be featured, including Gondwana, a durational VR experience that unfurls over 24 hours, and a constantly-evolving virtual ecosystem chronicling the possible futures of the world’s oldest tropical rainforest.


Hands on with Snap Specs. AR Insider got a first hand look at the elusive developers-only new Snap specs. The see-through AR glasses have more in common with Magic Leap than their ubiquitous face filters.

An excellent, Free XR Beginner Course from Yahoo. Created for journalists, storytellers and visual artists with limited experience with XR, the curriculum consists of nine comprehensive instructional videos created as a how-to series for making XR content using free, publicly available tools. Take a look at this cirriculum. This is great stuff. I’m going to highly recommend it to my students. Yahoo!

Avatar Dynamics Added To VR Chat. The new features will enable developers to rig hair, ears and other appendages, making them more interactive. The company says this is the #1 most requested feature. Users can now spread their wings, wiggle their ears, swish their tails, and brush their fur. Makes a pretty great video.

What Is the Real-World Metaverse? (Mike Boland/AR Insider)

Match has a plan to bring meet-cutes to the metaverse (David Pearce/Protocol)

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 SpotifyiTunes, 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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