Welcome back to Spatial Beats. Significant investments in early-stage XR and Metaverse companies continue in spite of the cautious economic environment, which is causing Meta, Microsoft, Google, and others to shed high-cost, low or no-revenue projects like AltSpaceVR (and maybe even the HoloLens) amidst slowing profits in cyclical areas like advertising.

Gemba, a corporate VR training platform used by Coca-Cola, Nike, and Pfizer, raises $18M. The funding round was led by Parkway Venture Capital and will enable the London-based company to expand into the US. Gemba’s learning programs include both bespoke private enterprise software for training and collaboration and supported masterclasses run by the company on topics like agile development and supply chain. Gemba delivers Quest headsets to users and provides needed support.

Dreamscape Learn Spins Out of ASU With $20M Investment. The location-based entertainment company backed by movie studios and Steven Spielberg and co-founded by the writer and producer of many of his movies, Walter Parkes, has been working with Arizona State University for the past several years on a biology curriculum based on its location-based VR experience “Alien Zoo.” The new venture is backed by Bold Capital Partners, GSV Ventures, Verizon Ventures, and Cengage.

Case Western University creates Ilumis to commercialize Holoanatony. The national research university benefitted from a pilot partnership to help develop a number of new applications in diverse areas like anatomy and live performance. As it turns out, the anatomy application, one of the first developed for the HoloLens in 2016, is still one of the best. It’s not tied to HoloLens, either. It will work with Magic Leap or any other spatial device.

Spatial Makes Bid For AltSpace Virtual World Builders. Tens of thousands of virtual worlds will lose their free home on Altspace in six weeks, but designers do have a couple of free hosting options in VR Chat and Spatial, which is welcoming world builders, companies, and marketers with transition support and continued hosting at the Internet’s favorite price.

The NBA Deepens Multiyear Partnership with Meta, Bringing More Ways to Watch Live Games on Quest. Users can watch the games in Meta’s Horizon Worlds ‘NBA Arena,’, which will show 52 live NBA games in addition to five games captured in 180-degree monoscopic (2,880 resolution) specifically captured for VR users. The NBA is also coming to Xtadium a VR sports app on Quest that enables shared viewing. VR-accessible NBA games up to April 9th here. NextVR, which was acquired by Apple 2020, did this years ago and it was a real courtside side. Priced accordingly, unfortunately. The Meta product is free – the Internet’s favorite price.

Rec Room and Republic Records have kicked off a free year-long, in-game music event series, with a lineup of Republic Records artists. The first event will take place on Friday, January 27 at 3 PM Pacific Time with pop star JESSIA. Singer-songwriter Quinn XCII will take the stage in February.

AWE Announces 150 Projects Advance to ‘MVP Phase’ in $100,000 XR Prize Challenge: Fight Climate Change, Representing 6 Continents In Urgent Worldwide Initiative

Among Us VR Reaches Million Sales Milestone. In this rave review from IGN, you get a sense why. Jesse Schell (I Expect You to Die) adapted the 2018 parlor game into an engaging social VR adventure, placing 10 people inside a spaceship while two Impostors try to murder everyone. You know who you are, where you are, and what you’re supposed to do there.

Visit Atlantis in VR, and Play Mini-Golf There. Walkabout Mini-Golf (WMG) continues its Lost Cities series with Atlantis, for Meta Quest and Steam. Like other WMG worlds, Atlantis is multiplayer and fully explorable, filled with surprises, marine life, impossible, Escher-like, setting, and perfect physics of the mini-golf course itself.

Matthew Ball Reflects On VR’s Perilous Path To Mass Adoption (MatthewBall.vc)

Will the Metaverse Live Up to the Hype? Game Developers Aren’t Impressed ( /Wired)

Game developers think the metaverse, blockchain is bogus according to a survey put out by the Game Developers Conference. (Washington Post)

Apple Reality Froth

Apple’s mixed reality headset could feature full-body FaceTime avatars

The long-rumored device may finally be revealed this spring. (Kris Holt/ Engadget)

Apple ‘Reality Pro’ headset will toggle between AR/VR, serve as Mac display, 2-hour external battery packs, more (Chance Miller/9to5mac)

Apple Should Build Its AR on the Meta Quest (Scott Stein/CNet)

Apple ‘Reality Pro’ headset will toggle between AR/VR, serve as Mac display, 2-hour external battery packs, more (Chance Miller/9to5 Mac)

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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