Welcome back to Spatial Beats. Tom Faber, who covers nightlife for the NY Times, spent some time finding community, and freedom, on the virtual dance floor in VR Chat. He says “there are dozens of parties happening on VRChat, a platform where users assume fantastical avatars of their own design.” The places he’s talking about are for PC-powered VR HMDs, not standalone VR like the Quest. Quest users have their own entertainment to look forward to as basketball great DJ Diesel (Shaquille O’Neil) hosts an hour-long event featuring performances by Cardi B, Ludacris, Lil Yachty, Killer Mike, and Whipped Cream. Shaq’s New Year’s Eve event will premiere Saturday, Dec. 31, at 3:30 p.m. PT, in VR in Meta Horizon Worlds and on Meta Quest TV, available in the Meta Quest 2 headset, as well as on O’Neal’s Facebook and Instagram pages and in Messenger’s Watch Together. Altspace is hosting a free all-day/night rave for all headsets and flatscreen PCs.

CES, the world’s largest trade show, comes to Las Vegas January 4-7. AI is having a moment, and will no doubt be the star of this year’s show. Companies will go to great lengths to demonstrate how they are using AI to improve their products. From smart home devices to self-driving cars, AI has the potential to revolutionize the way we live and work, but no one knows how this will work, exactly. The show, virtual in 2021, Delta-diminished in 2022, will still not be back at its record-setting size of 175,000 in 2020. Organizers are expecting 100,000 this year. This is my 25th CES, so believe me when I say 100,000 people is still a crushing mob.

XR will be well represented at CES. Forbes’ Andrew Williams says to keep an eye out for Sony’s Playstation VR2, HTC’s new standalone headset, teased last week, and Somnimum Space’s VR1. Both Microsoft and Magic Leap will be exhibiting in Central hall, along with Vrgineers, Xtal, Pimax, and Vuzix. Cannon is set to introduce cinematic VR. There are a lot of private suite demos. We’re looking forward to meeting with industrial AR giant Real Wear, Dimenco, Lumus, and Digilens. Meta is offering journalists private time with the Quest Pro and Ray Ban Stories. A new high definition headsets from Sharp is also expected.

I may have started a vexing trend by asking Is VR in a Perilous Place? after Meta admitted VR HMD sales were slowing, which is what really began the raft of negative year-end Meta Metaverse stories. Metaverse off to ominous start after VR headset sales shrank in 2022 says CNBC. 2023 Could be the Metaverse’s Make or Break Year added CNet. Meta, however, may yet have a hearty laugh this Christmas. On Dec 25th the Quest app was #1 in the App Store.

Aerospace Giant Canceled 40,000-Unit Oculus Quest Order When They Saw This Tech. Mobeus, a New Jersey-based startup with $24 million in funding from Accenture Ventures will soon introduce Airglass2, which makes every camera-equipped monitor, every smartphone, a potential shared 3D space.

Daily Variety says Nreal Air AR Glasses Deliver on a Promise to Transform the On-the-Go Lifestyle. The wearable second screen that tethers to lightweight glasses which reflect the smartphone’s screen as a massive 201” Micro-Led second screen for gaming and other content retails for $319. The Beijing-based augmented reality technology company isn’t exhibiting at CES this year. In 2020, they were the talk of the show.

The End of the Silicon Valley Myth. The companies that define our digital lives have hit a wall.(Brian Merchant/The Atlantic)

The tech we’re most looking forward to in 2023. (Chris Morris/Fast Company)

Immersive AR for consumers is ‘five or so’ years away, says Magic Leap CEO (Tiernan Ray, ZDnet)

How Meta flunked its first year as a metaverse company (Karissa Bell/Engadget)

This Week in XR is also a podcast hosted by Paramount’s Futurist Ted Schilowitz, Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz, 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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