Welcome back to Spatial Beats. Last week marked the beginning of the long-awaited merger of Etherium with the Beacon blockchain. ETH, the basis of many game economies, is transitioning to a “proof to stake” vs. “proof of work” method of validation, which will now be much more energy efficient and lower transaction fees dramatically. This could mean the beginning of the end of “crypto winter,” or further proof that skeptics were right.
HaptX announced a $23 million strategic funding round led by AIS Global and Crescent Cove Advisors, with participation from Verizon Ventures, Mason Avenue Investments, and Taylor Frigon Capital Partners. This investment brings HaptX’s total funding to more than $58 million. Centerview Partners acted as financial advisor to HaptX. The new cash will enable the company to expand the commercialization of its haptic gloves in enterprise, where they are used for remote telepresence robots, often combined with VR.
Cognitive3D Raises $2.5M for Spatial Analytics. The Vancouver-based company collates and measures how users behave within immersive 3D environments. The round was led by Konvoy, the Denver-based VC firm that recently launched a new $150M fund, with participation from Space Capital, and Boost.vc.
Cosmo Media Labs Gets Startup Investment From The Sandbox, a division of Animoca Brands. Cosmo Media Labs (CML) is a multi-functional production studio for content and gaming as well as IP and brand partnerships. Alexander Bushnell is CEO of the new company. This is the first time The Sandbox has taken a financial stake in an independent production company. Size of the deal was not disclosed.
Roblox Developer Conference Shows Off Developing Metaverse. Roblox has come a long way from kids begging parents for Robux and is turning into a real adult platform. Boxy avatars will soon give way to more expressive ones which mimic our expressions and movements. The company will introduce ads next year. In addition, the company plans to invest heavily in its developer community, adding another $10M to its existing Game Fund, now a $35M fund that provides developers with the resources they need to build the next generation of experiences on Roblox.
Here's a short clip of Roblox’s impressive avatar system. What you see here is what they call the dynamic heads feature. It allows you to express yourself from within the Metaverse in a more realistic and natural way. Very cool! pic.twitter.com/Er1qDjZzwB
— Nathie (@NathieVR) September 14, 2022
Meta’s Hyped VR Headset May Have Been Leaked By Guy In A Hotel. In what feels like a publicity stunt, hotel worker Ramiro Cardenas claims to have found a boxed pre-release Meta Cambria (to be sold as Quest Pro). Supposedly, he returned it to its owner, but not before taking a video of the unboxing and uploading it to Facebook.
StatusPro releases the first officially-licensed NFL VR Game, Pro Era and if it’s really like the trailer above, it will be the best football sim to date, and just in time for the start of a new season. StatusPRO was founded with a $5.2 seed round that included investors from pro sports like LeBron James, Drake and Naomi Osaka. 2019 NFL MVP, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is on the cover. The game features players from current rosters and all 32 NFL teams and locker rooms. The new NFL title is $29.99 in Quest and PSVR stores.
Hands-on with PSVR2. Road To VR’s founder and EIC, Ben Lang, visited Sony in San Mateo, where he spent several hours in the new device. “There’s little doubt in my mind that PSVR 2—combined with the power of PS5—is a genuine generational step forward for virtual reality on PlayStation, while offering up a few lessons for the rest of the VR headset market,” wrote Lang in his in-depth review. The new PSVR2 headset is due sometime in 2023. Price has not yet been disclosed.
Disney and Niantic announced MARVEL World of Heroes at Disney’s D23 Expo. The game is designed to be a social game experience in PvP and cooperative social action. Players will be able to create their own superhero identity and origin story, complete Super Hero missions, and thwart interdimensional threats. As players level up, they will unlock equipment and abilities. The game is set to launch next year.
Disney+ Short “Remembering” Features AR EFX. Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) stars in the short film which has an important sequence where the user must augment with a smartphone (iOS only) in order to feel the full effect of a waterfall cascading from the tv in their living room.
So Real To Open Massive VRcade at Shanghai Disney. Dubbed “The VR SuperSpace,” the venue will feature two floors of immersive games and entertainment based on the popular Chinese stories “Journey to the West” and “The Monkey King.” Experiences include a simulation of weightlessness and a VR motorcycle experience.
Meta Teams Up With March on Washington Film Festival 2022 (MOWFF) which takes place September 28th – October 1st in Washington, DC, to debut work from its first cohort in the inaugural Virtual Reality Equity Lab & Fellowship. Participants will debut immersive new VR projects that advance civil rights goals. MOWFF and Meta provided virtual reality tutelage to storytellers historically underrepresented in emerging media.
AWE Asia Has Wrapped. Two thousand people attended the Shanghai event, with another seven thousand participating remotely. Opening keynotes were provided by AWE co-founder Ori Inbar and Alvin Graylin, President of HTC China. Next up AWE Europe, in Lisbon, October 21-22.
Clocking In at the Virtual Reality Kmart (Megan Farokhmanesh/Wired)
Teens still love Snapchat. But its business is struggling to grow up. (Will Oremus and Naomi Nix/Washington Post)
Mark Zuckerberg is ‘continuing to derail’ Facebook, says Harvard expert: ‘He’s really lost his way’ (Annika Kim Constantino/CNBC)
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.