Welcome back to Spatial Beats. SXSW felt half empty this year, like no-one thought they were going to Austin six weeks earlier. Nonetheless XR was well represented with over 30 XR experiences and events at SXSW. Many prominent members of the community were live and in-person like ground-breaking VR director and producer Nonny de la Pena, who was inducted in the SXSW hall of fame. The content was outstanding this year, with an innovative VR narrative, On The Morning You Wake (To the End of the World) won best narrative VR Experience.

Elsewhere at SXSW, Miro Shot, the Paris art collective that combines VR and trip hop, played a tiny set that nonetheless was a gut punch: this is the concert of the future. Location based entertainment will be augmented. There was a lot of buzz around NFTs. Paris Hilton DJ’d at the Sandbox party.

Mark Zuckerberg appeared remotely and doubled, tripled, and quadrupled down on the Metaverse.

Scott Galloway is betting on Apple to dominate the next generation of mobile computing, though Apple has yet to play its hand in XR.

Former Nintendo CEO turned VC Reggie Fils-Amie thinks the Metaverse is another way of talking about Roblox. He’s also a big Fortnite fan.

Ramen VR Raises $35M for Zenith, a cross-playable (Steam, Playstation, Quest) MMORPG which has been the best selling game on Steam Rift, Quest, and PlayStation VR since its launch in January. The round was led by Anthos Capital and Dune Ventures, with additional investment from Makers Fund and personal investments from Andrew Chen and James Gwertzman, general partners at Andreessen Horowitz.

MediView XR Secures $ 9.9M for Augmented Reality Surgical Navigation Platform. The Cleveland-based medtech company uses augmented reality to provide surgeons with an intraoperative 3D “x-ray” holographic visualization. The surgeon is able to look directly into a patient during a procedure seeing internal anatomy under their skin in 3D (organs, bones, vasculature, etc.).

Google Buys Micro LED Starup Raxium, stoking speculation that after throwing most of its XR efforts overboard (Daydream, Poly, etc.) it still harbors wearable ambitions. They did acquire North, the Amazon-backed company whose notification glasses didn’t stand a chance. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Report: Microsoft Braces for Negative Field Tests. A new report contends the company is bracing for the impact of negative feedback from the US military. Last year, Microsoft announced it had won a United States Army defense contract worth up to $22 billion which would see the development of a so-called Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), a tactical AR headset for soldiers based on HoloLens 2 technology. We interviewed Lt. General Maria Gervais last week about the Army’s use of AR and VR and she was flat out bullish on the hololens, and IVAS. She said the soldiers love it. So someone is lying their face off. Gen. Gervais’ struck me as a public servant of extraordinarily high integrity.

USAF Expands Dynepic Training Contract. USAF Air Education and Training Command (AETC) announced plans to expand its VR training program Dynepic, extending its another $3.6 M, boosting the total value of the deal to over $10 million.

VR headsets are headed to your car’s backseat. Holoride was spun off from Audi three years ago, but they’re back where they started, giving the car maker a way to keep those kids in the back satisfied with an XR that is synced to the movement of the road.

As Weddings Move Into The Metaverse, You Now Have No Excuse Not To Attend.

Vermillion, a XR oil painting simulator will be released on the Meta Quest Store next week.Using the Passthrough feature on Quest 2, anyone with the VR headset can discover the joy of painting in their living room.

Virtuoso Is A Fantastic VR Tool For Casual Music Makers

Owlchemy Labs’ Cosmonious High Releases March 31 For Quest 2, SteamVR

Interest In NFTs And The Metaverse Is Falling Fast. Metaverse and NFT trending down on Google. (Paul Tassi/Forbes)

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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