Welcome back to Spatial Beats. Meta Connect gets underway this week. The one-day online event is open to the public. You can watch via Facebook Live, and in VR on Meta Quest 2 in Meta Horizon Worlds. The event kicks off at 10 am PST with CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote. At Facebook Connect last year, he famously changed the name of his company to Meta. Mark is not going to top that. The big news this year will doubtless be the unveiling of their oft-teased Project Cambria MR HMD, probably as the Meta Quest Pro. An unauthorized developer video, just shared by Road to VR, shows it’s mixed reality features. Also on the agenda, at 2:30 PST is the annual John Carmak Unscripted talk. Carmak, Consulting CTO, Reality Labs at Meta and Geek God, created Doom, and played a key role in Oculus’ founding story. There are thirty other speakers, mostly on topics relevant to software developers. Here’s the full schedule.

SideQuest raises $12M Series A Led by Google Ventures. SideQuest is an alternative app store for the Meta Quest VR headset created by Orla and Shane Harris. The Belfast company got an early investment from Oculus founder Palmer Lucky in 2020, followed by an additional $3 million in seed funding in October 2021, bringing total funding to date to 15.6 M, according to Crunchbase. The company says the new funds will allow them to expand its developer services.

BFI LFF Expanded returns to 26 Leake St and Southbank, London, from 5-16 October this year. The festival is featuring a total of 20 new immersive projects from 17 countries representing a wide range of immersive works including interactive virtual reality (VR), 360 films, augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and live immersive performance. Select projects include Guy Maddin’s Haunted Hotel—an AR experience that uses archival materials from Maddin’s personal collection to take audiences on a surreal journey exploring the layers of human nature; and Planet City a VR experience that takes place in an imaginary city of 10 billion people – which constitutes the planet’s entire population – where all cultures co-exists in peace.

Wall Street Journal Podcast Taking a Deep Dive Into The First Metaverse, Second Life. The Journal podcast says it is “about money, business and power,” hosted by Kate Linebaugh and Ryan Knutson. The first in the four part series “How to Build a Metaverse, Part 1: Genesis,” features Second Life founder Philip Rosedale, then fresh from Real Networks, where he was CTO.

Mattel is following Wal-Mart Into the Metaverse by building a home for Barbie in Roblox. The sandbox game Roblox will soon feature special partnership events with both Barbie and Polly Pocket in the game Livetopia over the next few months. Both Livetopia, Barbie and Polly Pocket are role-playing simulation games that emphasize creativity and freedom, something highly valued by the pre-teen appeal of Roblox.

Sutu’s Circuit Breaker NFT experience went live on Saturday. The new browser-based game from the world-famous immersive artist Sutu, is described by its creator as “Mad Max meets Tron in a cyberpunk speedrun game set in the world of NEONZ.” The project is a partnership between the artist and Blockborn.gg, an online leaderboard platform owned by esports gaming company Misfits, which is putting up twenty thousand dollars in prizes.

Sony Has High Expectations for Playstation VR2 Sales Next Year (Scott Hayden/Road to VR)

Here are all of the new features and updates coming to Google Maps (Aisha Malik/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.

More from AR Insider…