Welcome back to Spatial Beats. The XR event of the year, Augmented World Expo, takes place in Santa Clara from Wednesday, June 1st to Friday, June 3rd. The conference and expo are expected to outdraw its record attendance of 7,500 in 2019. Representatives from most of the major companies in the field, including NASA, Meta, Google, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Unity, HTC, Niantic, Verizon, Roblox, and Snap will be in attendance along with hundreds of startups, entrepreneurs, investors, analysts, press, academics, and enterprise customers. While there are many consumer-facing businesses attending, and there is a “Playground” of XR experiences in the expo hall, most of the conference is for enterprises, startups, developers, press, and thought leaders.
It’s a long shot but Apple’s ARVR headset may be teased at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) next week, which will be online for the third consecutive year. Tom’s Guide thinks it’s too soon to tease, but on the other hand, after last week, the genie is out of the bottle, and how long can Apple wait before giving third-party developers something to work with. A dev kit. An emulator. Something. Anything.
The Glimpse Group Buys Brightline Interactive for $32.5M. The publicly traded XR holding company Glimpse Group (NASDAQ: VRAR) announced it is acquiring Brightline Interactive, for $32.5 million in cash and stock. DC-based Brightline is a successful VR training business with numerous government and corporate clients. The deal will boost Glimpse’s annual revenue by 33%.
Metaverse app BUD raises another $37M, plans to launch NFTs. The Singapore-based startup closed $36.8 million in a Series B round led by Sequoia Capital India, bringing total funding to $60M. Launched in November 2021, BUD rewards users for creating 3D content like avatars and other props in a web-based no-code interface. The app has been among the top ten social apps in nearly forty countries across North America, Southeast Asia, and South America. User-generated digital assets like costumes have changed hands more than 150 million times in BUD’s marketplace.
XR All-Stars Out Of Stealth With $4M For Mirrorworld. Matt Miesnieks, who sold his computer vision startup 6D.ai to Niantic in the spring of 2020, announced in a blog post this morning that he was teaming with former Magic Leap SVP John Gaeta and Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley to create a new company, LivingCities.xyz, which will “connect real places to digital-twins, bringing life to the mirror world… We’re building a social layer intertwining the Metaverse and reality, so we can more richly express who we are to each other.”
Niantic Developer Summit Sees Release of VPS, Addition of WebXR. At its first developer summit in San Francisco this week, the company introduced Lightship Visual Positioning System (VPS), a crowdsourced 3D map of the world created by millions of phone cameras scanning real locations while playing Ingress and Pokémon Go. Thanks to 8th Wall technology (Niantic acquired them earlier this spring), this can easily be done with a smartphone camera and a browser.
Pixelynx, the new music Metaverse gaming platform created by deadmau5 and Richie Hawtin debuted its first mobile game, Elynxir, which was built on the Lightship Platform. Niantic also announced an investment in Pixelynx at the conference. Look at the video above. It really kicks @**.
Somnium Space Leads a $4 million Investment in Lynx ahead of the delivery of its R-1 mixed reality headset. Somnium Space founder and CEO Artur Sychov will join the Lynx board. Lynx is based on the same XR2 chipset that powers the Quest 2 but uses full color high def outward-facing cameras to do passthrough AR. The open-air sides can be closed to enable VR experiences too.
ArborXR, Qualcomm Team Up for XR Deployments. The companies collaborated on an enterprise-scale device management solution. Under the agreement, ArborXR will provide its device management software to Qualcomm XR customers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for large-scale deployments.
Journey is a new creative design company for the Metaverse led by Andrew Zimmerman, former CEO of Frog Design, and co-founder of Accenture Interactive, and funded by Growth Catalyst Partners. Zimmerman. “We support clients who are looking for a panoramic view beyond what we can see today, which spans across physical, voice, digital, and virtual touchpoints. The Futurescape is the “space” in which we imagine the next chapter in the customer journey and then build it.” Well-known futurist, consultant, author, podcast host, and former Magic Leap executive Cathy Hackl will join as Chief Metaverse Officer.
Unity for Humanity Grant Awarded to Zoe Immersive. The grant from Unity will enable the company to bring its platform into an underrepresented school district to create a curriculum that builds out a 21st Century skill education for the district.
Augmented World Expo, The World’s Leading XR Conference in Santa Clara June 1st – 3rd. The conference, now in its 13th year, will livestream the main stage presentations online at AWE.live for free. The conference features twelve agenda tracks and 400 speakers. John Riccitello, CEO of Unity, and Hugo Swart, VP & GM of XR and Metaverse at Qualcomm will deliver the keynotes. All sessions, including the tracks, are recorded and posted on YouTube after the show.
Marketing in the metaverse: An opportunity for innovation and experimentation. This white paper was a collaboration by McKinsey’s Eric Hazan, Greg Kelly, Hamza Khan, Dennis Spillecke, and Lareina Yee.
Me and My Selfie Drone: Life With a Snap Pixy (Scott Stein/Cnet)
Amid crypto market turmoil, Andreessen Horowitz announces $4.5 billion web3 fund (Lucas Matney/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.