Welcome back to Spatial Beats. Snap wrapped its developer conference last week without saying the world “metaverse” even once. The camera-first AR company introduced a drone that weighs four ounces called Pixy. It will track your movements according to five preset flight paths. Snap co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel told Platformer’s Casey Newton “Snap is a camera company, and a camera that flies felt like a good step forward.” Pixie is only $299. It will take 6-8 flights per charge, recording 60 seconds of video (no audio). The idea is to get to a place where it feels like Tinkerbell is your personal photographer, said Spiegel. Snap is growing faster than FB and Insta. The app is used by an international audience of more than 600 million people a month, three-quarters aged 13 to 34.

Snap Partner Summit Piles on the AR

Tasers in the Metaverse. Axon Enterprises, maker of the Taser, acquired VR studio Foundry 45 to bolster its training business. Foundry 45 has done work for big clients like Delta Air Lines, AT&T, and others. The all-stock deal is valued at $6.87 M.

Womp Secures $4.7M to Democratize Cloud-Based 3D Software and Revolutionize the Design Industry. Founded in 2019, Womp is a 3D creation platform that integrates social features with powerful design tools. Female Founders Fund and Haystack Lead Seed Round for SaaS Startup to Open Private Beta to Further Refine Product.

Chinese start-up Nreal is launching its augmented reality glasses in the UK this spring. The Beijing-based company said Tuesday it will launch its Nreal Air AR glasses in Britain later this spring through an exclusive deal with local carrier EE, which is owned by telecoms group BT.

Tribeca festival unveils 2022 immersive line-up. The Tribeca Film Festival continues the tradition of featuring cutting-edge, issue-oriented and artistic VR experiences in person in New York at 50 Varick Street and online from June 8 – 19. The virtual exhibition is at The Museum of Other Realities which features most of the 21 experiences in the festival. Programming features EVOLVER, a journey through the inner landscape of the human body from executive producers Edward R. Pressman and Terrence Malick, created by Marshmallow Laser Feast, with music by Jonny Greenwood; Please, Believe Me, an investigation of Lyme disease from Peabody Award Winner Nonny de la Peña; and Plastisapiens, an exploration of how the environment affects human evolution.

Disney Plans for the Metaverse. In an LA Times news story that contained no new news, Disney’s Metaverse head Mike White is supposedly conducting internal meetings with stakeholders on “next-generation storytelling.” Honestly, the Metaverer should be a natural for the company that’s been building theme parks – virtual worlds – since 1950. It is also an epic opportunity for its competitors. No real estate required.

Meta Stock Shoots Up 20% As The Company Beats Low Expectations. Both Facebook and revenue surged last quarter. XR revenue was up 30% year-over-year, from $534 million in Q1 2021 to $695 million in Q1 2022, but costs rose even faster, 62%. CEO Mark Zuckerberg again emphasized he does not expect to see a substantial return on the ongoing investment until the 2030s.

The first “Meta Store” is opening in California in May. The company’s first retail store will be housed in a 1,550-square-foot space on Meta’s Burlingame, California, campus, which houses a number of Meta’s VR- and AR-specific development efforts, and it will allow the public to test and purchase any of Meta’s physical products.

Meta partners with Smithsonian on VR moonwalk exhibit. The Moonwalk experience is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo missions. Visitors put on a Meta Quest 2 headset and see the lunar landscape as if they were the Apollo astronauts. They will be able to see the rover exploring, kick up dust, and listen to the astronauts’ real conversations from the Moon’s surface.

Tim Sweeny on the Metaverse (Mark Sullivan/Fast Company)

‘Decentralized’ web3 startup Axie Infinity and its users find out the hard way there’s no safety net (Connie Loizos/Techcrunch)

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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