Welcome back to Spatial Beats. This week, Netflix began production of “Squid Game: The Challenge Reality Competition Series,” a companion reality series to season two of the blockbuster streaming series. This is pretty meta. 456 real players will enter the game in pursuit of $4.56 million cash. Losers get the boot, but no actual death. Someday we can do this in VR. You could do all sorts of spectacular, impossible things. “Killing” players could be even more fun, unexpected, and yet less harmful.

Blippar partners with Microsoft Teams to provide shared AR experiences for simultaneous users on their communication and collaboration suite of applications. Using QR codes and WebXR, any Teams users with a smartphone camera and a browser can share and view 3D content, expand it, and walk around it. New features like annotation will be added soon. Blippar offers a web based drag and drop platform for creating bespoke mobile AR experiences. Microsoft Teams has over 250,000 users.

ENGAGE Reveals First Look at ‘Link’ Metaverse Platform for Enterprise & Education. The XR training and education platform announced last year it was building what it now calls “Link,” described when announced last year as “the Linkedin of VR.” There are virtual worlds you can live and socialize in, and ones optimized for business and learning. There are creative tools to encourage users to build places themselves. Users can even have their own apartment in a highrise, with views of distant cities on floating mountains, and branded drones flying by. This week EngageXR has been giving clients and select members of the press a look at their new 3D virtual worlds, which can be accessed with VR headsets or PCs. I was cautioned that everything is under construction, including their construction simulation. That particular sim is a digital twin of a physical location, which feeds real-time data into the model. Engage Link will launch sometime this fall.

AWE 2022 Wrap Up. A lot of smart people talked all things VR, AR, and Metaverse. The Magic Leap 2 turned heads. Tik Tok’s Effects House AR had a presence there for the first time. We gleaned a few new insights, and saw lots of new enterprise XR headsets.

Pico VR To Introduce a Consumer Headset in the US, Parent ByteDance is on a VR hiring spree. A report in Protocol revealed Pico is building both a VR consumer software and game team on the west coast, as well as a domestic marketing organization. The plan is to introduce a consumer focused version of their $475 Pico Neo later this year. Both HMDs run on the same Snapdragon 2 chip set from Qualcomm, but Pico’s displayport creates a better connection when using the headset with a PC.

Tribeca Immersive Announces Winners of Its Storyscapes Competition. The 21st annual Tribeca Festival today announced the winning immersive experiences in its annual Storyscapes competition. The Storyscapes Award and the $10,000 prize went to Kubo Walks The City (director: Hayoun Kwon, producer: InnerspaceVR). LGBTQ + VR Museum (project creators: Antonia Forster and Thomas Terkildsen, producer: Albert Millis) received the New Voices Award. EVOLVER (project creators: Marshmallow Laser Feast, Jonny Greenwood, Meredith Monk, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Howard Skempton; producers: Nicole Shanahan (Bia-Echo), Edward R. Pressman, and & Sam Pressman (Pressman Film), Terrence Malick (TF Malick Productions), Antoine Cayrol (Atlas V), and Mike Jones (Marshmallow Laser Feast) received a special jury mention for the Storyscapes Award. Kyle Melnick of VR Scout said this was the best year yet for XR Experiences at Tribeca. The experiences can be seen in the Tribeca gallery in the Museum of Other Realities (PC VR only) for a nominal fee through the end of the month.

Probing reality and myth in the metaverse McKinsey and Company surveyed 1,000 Americans to find out what people think of the putative metaverse. Their survey revealed people are leaning in the Metaverse; half can even describe it; a quarter of them think they’re going to be spending a good part of their day there in five years.

Meta’s Mind-Blowing “The World Beyond,”  is a Free MR Demo for Quest2. Meta recently launched The World Beyond, a one-of-a-kind experience for the Meta Quest 2 that turns your real-world space into a mixed reality playground. The tech demo makes excellent use of the Quest 2’s hand-tracking, passthrough, and voice command technology. The result is a game-changing experience, unlike anything we’ve seen before in VR.

Nissan Built A VR Dealership In VRChat With Interactive Cars. First reported by Autoweek, Nissan just launched several branded virtual worlds on VRChat platform, called the Nissan Crossing Experience, where you can get physically close to realistic 3D models of their cars. A second world inside VRChat is called Nissan Sakura Driving Island. There you sit in the driver’s seat of Sakura and drive around the island.

Apple’s Metaverse Snub Highlights AR/VR Tech Woes (Matthew Smith/IEEE Spectrum)

Tribeca’s Latest VR Festival Might Be Its Best One Yet (Kyle Melnick/VR Scout)

Annecy XR Program Looks Toward the Future (Ben Kroll/Variety)

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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