Welcome back to Spatial Beats. At World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, both Metaverse and AI were among the hot topics discussed by the industry’s most senior executives, world government officials, and think tanks.
The World (WEF) Economic Forum Plans to Bring Leaders Together in the Metaverse. A virtual village, created by Microsoft and Accenture was announced. It uses Microsoft Mesh and its AltSpaceVR to present a digital twin of Davos, where users can meet, work, interface with government officials, and browse museums. WEF is really serious about this. I hope we remember to check how it’s going next January.
The World Economic Forum also puts out a series of reports. In its vision for a Global Collaboration Village the WEF explains its rationale for building virtual Davos is to “spur action to drive impact at scale… and extend our ability to connect regardless of where we are physically located around the world.” Wowser. That’s quite a leap of faith.
Another WEF report, the metaverse will make its biggest impact on industry, cites the widespread adoption of digital twin technology in diverse industries. Eventually, says the report, this technology will make its way to consumers. So insightful. A must-read. Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President at Microsoft said, “We believe the metaverse has the potential to fundamentally change the way we communicate and collaborate, overcoming limitations of the physical world to deliver enhanced connections for everyone.” Indeed.
Neal Stephenson discussed his metaverse vision with Meta’s Chief Product Officer Chris Cox. Stephenson’s new company, Lamina1, is building a foundational blockchain that would enable universal sign-in and microtransactions, two things that should have been built into the Internet.
The Future Of Tech Is Smart Glasses, says Qualcomm president and CEO Cristiano Amon. “The merger of physical and digital spaces” is the next phase of the internet, he said, adding that smart glasses are something the chip manufacturer is “very passionate about.” Great shout out to immersive tech at a conference that was more focused on climate, Ukraine, AI, and The Metaverse, which has been characterized by many speakers as more impactful than smartphones.
Apple reportedly shelved its plans to release AR glasses any time soon. Bloomberg first broke the story that everyone reported on this week. Due to “technical challenges,” Apple’s see-through augmented reality glasses are now officially on the back burner. The company will focus its resources on launching a fully occluded mixed reality headset that sees the physical world through pass-through cameras. Although Apple has yet to confirm it, the MR headset will soon be announced, along with a late 2023 launch date.
Microsoft laid off 10,000 workers, shredding the remnants of Alex Kipman’s XR group, which was broken up when he left the company. Many blame the cuts on setbacks to the Army HoloLens IVAS project, which has been scaled back from $22 billion to $400 million. And maybe not even that. Congress seems to be losing patience with the project. Not the Army. They want to take another crack at AR headsets.
Microsoft Will Sunset AltSpaceVR. In tough economic times, it’s hard to justify hosting tens of thousands 3D virtual worlds with no business model. The VCs behind Rec Room and VR Chat may keep footing their bills, but Microsoft is out. They saved the social VR platform from bankruptcy in 2018 for a pittance, and since have managed it superbly, upgrading their avatar system, adding developer tools, and integrating it into their XR collaboration platform, Mesh, which Microsoft says will continue after AltSpaceVR is gone. This is bad. Really bad. Did you think I was kidding when I asked if this is a perilous moment for VR? I don’t like being right about these things.
House of Blueberry raises $6M for digital fashion in the Metaverse. The company has sold over 20 million digital assets across platforms such as Roblox, The Sims, and Second Life under its own brand. House of Blueberry has partnered with brands like Natori and Boy Meets Girl to create their first virtual collections.
Roblox 2022 Year in Review. In this blog post CEO Dave Baszucki says 70 player-created games have crossed a billion plays on the Roblox platform, which has grown to 58.8 million daily users. Top titles included Livetopia, DOORS, Evade, Brookhaven, Blox Fruits, BedWars, Tower of Hell, and Pet Simulator X!.
Bored Ape Flexes That $450M It Raised For Its Metaverse Empire With Poop Game. Direct from the school of trying too hard, those naughty apes want players to humiliate themselves for NFTs. Just the thing for BAYC members who’ve carelessly given thousands of dollars to a game company that’s never built a game. More than anything, this shows you how hard it is to sustain creative on the level of their Otherside trailer.
AR and VR Hate Prescription Lenses, And It’s Getting Worse says myopic CNET editor and immersive media specialist Scott Stein. I have to agree with him, having damaged four pairs of expensive trifocals. They get mighty scratched up, even with the corrective lens spacer on the Quest. The wonderfully slim form factor of Vive XR Elite is going to make this worse, says Stein.
Prisms, a new title coming to the Quest next week, has gamified math learning. Currently being used by 92 school districts across 23 states, Prisms has more than doubled the outcome of traditional methods of teaching the subject. In Prisms VR, users connect 3D experiences of real-world situations before building up to more abstract representations like graphs, tables, and equations or vocabulary, thereby deriving mathematical models from physical and visual experiences. Built for Grade 8 to 11 math students, tutors, and teachers, Prisms VR content and multiplayer practice modules are now available in the Meta Quest store for $24 USD as an annual subscription model.
7 Podcasts That Will Make You Smarter About AR. Great list, and not just because it contains the podcast associated with this column. Adding to the revered “Voices of VR” podcast by Kent Bye, and Jason McDowell’s “The AR Show” is the new “XR Industry Leaders” podcast from ArborXR Co-Founders Brad Scoggin and Will Stackable, who feature enterprise XR executives from companies like Amazon, Walmart, Pfizer, UPS, and Koch Industries.
The maddening, surreal experience of VR work meetings (Nitish Pahwa/Slate)
Extremely Hardcore (Zoey Schifer, Casey Newton, and Alex Heath/Platformer/The Verge)
Virtual Cringe: The 10 Lamest Brand Stunts in the Metaverse (Thomas Germain/Gizmodo)
What Is a Metaversity, and Should You Create One on Your Campus? (Andy Viano/Ed Tech Magazine)
2022 Was a Plateau Year for VR, Here’s What to Expect in 2023 (Ben Lang/Road to VR)
Meta faces a future of more legal woes and falling revenues (Arthur Sullivan/DW)
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.