Welcome back to Spatial Beats. Can you hear the bubble inflating? It’s about to pop. The purchase of virtual land is an insane bet that proximity, instead of hyperlinks, will matter in the Metaverse. It’s a bet we will “walk” past the Nike store on our way to Snoop Dog’s mansion instead of teleporting. I suspect the brands buying into this are doing it for the publicity, and perhaps the sense that maybe there could be upside someday. A company that thinks it’s part of the Metaverse because it bought or sold an NFT, or it bought “land” in a video game, has been listening to the wrong evangelists. Prediction: virtual land and NFTs will be the “trope” associated with the early 2020s. Meanwhile, here are the other items we’re watching…
Autodesk acquires XR firm The Wild. The Wild is a virtual reality design tool for the AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) sector. It acquired Iris VR, which is integrated into Autodesk, last year. Iris brings 3D CAD drawings into VR and allows users to collaboratively review and annotate blueprints. This is one of the most obvious use cases for spatial computing and for now at least it seems to be the sole property of Autodesk. Terms were not disclosed. This deal is so strategic one has to wonder what took so long.
Surgery Training Platform Osso VR Secures $66M Series C Financing. The surgical training platform today announced it’s closed another $66 million in funding bringing their total raise since 2016 to $109 million. Founder and CEO Jusin Barad, a game developer turned orthopedic surgeon, has worked with device manufacturers and medical schools of the past seven years to change the way surgeons are trained. The company just won the prestigious Innovation Award for XR at SXSW 2022. The Series C round was led by Oak HC/FT, with Signalfire, GSR Ventures, Tiger Global Management and Kaiser Permanente Ventures investing in the round.
Qualcomm Sets Up $100M Fund for Metaverse Investments. The new fund will focus on gaming, health, education and entertainment. Qualcomm’s mobile Snapdragon processors power all of the major makers of XR HMDs, including the Microsoft HoloLens.
Snap buys brain-computer interface startup for future AR glasses. NextMind is a Paris-based neurotech startup that makes a headband that helps the wearer control a computer with their thoughts. The startup raised about $4.5 million in funding to date and was last valued at roughly $13 million, according to PitchBook.
NFL Inks Deal For Annual VR Video Game For Meta Quest and PlayStation VR. StatusPRO has a license to produce an annual virtual reality game for Meta’s Quest headset and Sony’s PlayStation VR. The new game will provide a first-person experience, allowing fans to play the game through the eyes of characters on the virtual field.
Zoom’s new virtual avatars let you show up as an animal. The new work-from-home trend means even when you don’t even have to comb your hair, your animoji-like avatar is ready for its close up..
Virbela Launches New Campus, Features. The 3D virtual world build for business celebrated its tenth anniversary by opening an updated campus and adding new features like new avatar options, including gender, body type, and mobility, and Zoom integration. Firms can also import a digital twin of their real-world offices. [Disclosure: Virbela is the sponsor of the “The Week in XR,” podcast, the companion to this weekly tech roundup.]
Metaverse Fashion Week. Anchored by big-name labels, Metaverse Fashion Week is designed to test brand and consumer appetite for digital fashion. Participants and organisers talk about preparations, and why it’s more about experimentation than digital sales.
People Are Paying Millions For Land in the Metaverse. Here’s Why (Daniel Van Boom/CNet)
The Metaverse Isn’t a Destination. It’s a Metaphor (Scott Stein/Cnet)
The (Metaverse) Land Rush Of 2022 Is On (Chris Metinko/Crunchbase)
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.