Welcome back to Spatial Beats. Last week, Nreal raised $60 million from Alibaba. The funding will help China’s Nreal AR Smartglasses launch in its home country following roll outs in Japan and the U.S. The company raised $200 Million at a $700 Million valuation last year, and has built its own manufacturing plant in Wuxi, China. The $600 the AR glasses are cheap for what they are, but they do need to be tethered to very specific new 5G Android smartphone. Nreal says the new funds will also enable them to grow their app ecosystem, which will be critical to user adoption.
Mojo Vision Demos Next Generation AR contact lenses. Every once in a while I see something that makes me go wow. Scott Stein of Cnet said wow. Tony Vitillo said wow. Dean Takahasi of Venturebeat said: “The Mojo Lens prototype is a critical milestone for the company in its development, testing, and validation process, and is an innovation positioned at the intersection of smartphones, augmented reality/virtual reality, smart wearables, and health tech.” The company demo’d basic apps through the actual lens, showing off simple interactive graphics like a compass, and text clear enough to read like a teleprompter. You control the device with gaze, which would definitely take some getting used to. The company has branched out from serving the vision impaired to exploring sports and fitness applications. Mojo Vision has raised over $200 Million.
Hackers Make off with $600 Million in Ronin Cryptocurrency from Axie Infinity. The hack of the blockchain powering the play-to-earn NFT game Axie Infinity has led to one of the biggest crypto heists in history. Axie brushed it off on Twitter, causing everyone to wonder whose crypto got stolen here.
LIV Raises $8.5 Million to record and livestream players inside of VR and AR games. Creators are able to either film their real bodies inside their favorite VR game or transform themselves into a customized avatar. LIV supports full-body tracking, finger tracking, eye animation, and lip tracking. The technology works live with no post-production needed. The Series A funding round was led by BITKRAFT, with Sony Innovation Fund, Amazon Alexa Fund, Credo Ventures, Samsung Next, and Olive Tree Capital following. Dave Wu, partner at Maveron Ventures, and other angels participated.
Two Bit Circus To Open Second Location in Dallas. The LA location-based Entertainment center that features VR experiences, Arcade Games, and original electronic interactive fun, including a robot bartender, is opening in Dallas next year.
Nimo Smart Glasses Want to Replace Your Laptop Screen. The old Meta (not to be confused with the company formerly known as Facebook, which bought their trademarks out of bankruptcy), founded by Meron Gibretz in 2013 and folded in 2018, was based on the premise of screen replacement, too. Nimo Planet has been working on their AR glasses for more than four years with a core team of 10 people based out of Kerala, India. The company expects to ship their glasses worldwide in first half of 2023 for $799.
Wendyverse is serving fun in Meta’s Horizon Worlds. This is one virtual land grab that makes sense. I also like that Meta is presenting the brand in a way that is organic to the medium. You can only get virtual food there, but you can also shoot some hoops and play other interactive games.
Multiplayer Multibrush Update. Rendever rescued the pioneering VR app Tilt Brush when Google unceremoniously dumped its source code on Github and walked away. Rendever just updated the spatial VR paint application to enable passthrough, which allows users to place their content in the physical world. The update also includes Meta Horizon avatar integration, replacing the floating goggles previously implemented by Rendever. Available in the Oculus store.
Live Actors Have Returned to The Under Presents. First launched in 2019, The Under Presents is a pioneering interactive VR adventure incorporating both live actors and scripted performances to deliver a narrative-driven mystery that centers on themes of time, fate, and free will. Many of the original cast members of The Under Presents will be returning for this limited engagement, including: Brandon Bales, Michael Bates, Karlie Blair, Sophie Cooper, James Cowan, Whitton Frank, Genevieve Flati, Stephanie Hyden, Dasha Kittredge, Terence Leclere, Deirdre Lyons, Haylee Nichele, Kelly Pierre, Soren Royer-McHugh, and Katelyn Schiller.
New Technology Walkers VR Introduced the Legverse. The Turin-based company headed by blogger Tony Vitillo made the announcement after drinking heavily in the early hours of April 1, 2022. “People are so unhappy with Meta’s legless avatars in Meta Horizon Worlds, we decided to provide an alternative.” The legless avatars reportedly escaped from the YouTube video above. They are now running around Web3 looking for the NFT that will enable them to merge with the legless bodies to form a memberless DAO. Of course, none of the above is real… APRIL FOOLS!
Augmented Reality Goes Mainstream. How a flight line superintendent turned an inspired idea into the Air Force’s one-stop-shop for Augmented Reality. Another overnight success that only took ten years. (Amy Hudson/Air Force Magazine)
The Metaverse Will Be a Multi-Platform Mess. Conflicting priorities will mean there’s a fragmented collection of different 3D realms, not a single destination. (Stephen Shankland/Cnet)
I went to metaverse fashion week and it was like a dystopian nightmare (Charlotte Edwards/The Sun)
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.