Welcome back to Spatial Beats. This week, the XR sector is partying like it’s 2021. RealWear’s SPAC merger leads the bunch in sheer size. Light Field Lab scored another $50M, Mawari $6.5M, Accenture invested in 3D display maker Looking Glass, and Engage XR is raising $11.7M in new financing.
RealWear to go public via SPAC that values the new co at $375.5 million. RealWear, which makes a ruggedized head-mounted assisted reality device for industrial users, is merging with Cascadia Acquisition Corp (NSDQ: CCAI), which is nothing more than $187.5M in cash and a public listing looking for a tech deal like this. Over 70,000 RealWear devices are fielded by 5,000 enterprise customers around the world, including Siemens, Johnson & Johnson, and Ford. The company reported $20.5 million in 2022 revenue with a gross margin of 63%. The deal, which would value the combined company at $375.5M, is expected to close in the latter half of the year.
Here Come The Holograms: Light Field Labs Raises $50M for Commercial Launch. Their SolidLight holograms will launch for applications within the global video wall market, which encompasses multiple verticals like corporate spaces, entertainment venues, and public displays. Light Field Lab has raised a total of $85 million, and is backed by Bill Gates (Gates Frontier), Vinod Khosla (Khosla Ventures), the VC arms of Bosch, Forvia, LG, Liberty Global, NTT Docomo, Samsung, and Verizon, and a prestigious list of venture capital firms, national technology funds, and strategic corporate partners including AVG, ACME Capital, Comcast, Corning, NCSOFT, OTOY, R7 Partners, and Taiwania Capital.
Mawari Raises $6.5 M To Enable AR Cloud. There has always been a last-mile problem for dual-compute solutions needed to run XR applications without latency on 5G. Mawari is partnering with Telcos to create GPU nodes to accelerate XR content delivery. If we’re to end the tyranny of the app, and integrate the digital twin with its physical counterpart, a solution like Mawari’s is required.
Accenture Invests In Looking Glass 3D Display. The popular new lenticular display enables 3D content to be inspected in real-time without the use of classes. In June 2022, the company introduced 32” and 65” models. Accenture said it uses Looking Glass Displays in its design labs, and characterized this as a strategic investment. The size of the investment was not disclosed.
Engage XR Raising up to $11.7M via Share Placing, Subscription. The company, a micro microcap valued at just $13.02 M on the Irish Exchange, continues to be the biggest screaming buy in XR. The company has a substantial metaverse for industry and education. PWC and other companies have Metaverse campuses there. Engage also provides the platform for Victory XR, which is building Metaversities for dozens of institutions, including Stanford.
‘Squid Game’ Multiplayer VR Experience Coming to Sandbox Locations This Year. We’ve been tracking this chain of Location Based Virtual Reality simulation centers since the pandemic forced their closure. With the easing of restrictions, they are back with the funds to grow, and a plan to reintroduce its business with this high-profile Netflix franchise.
A Live Metaverse Experience in Golf+. The Beat The Pro Experience from Golf+ starts Thurs 2/9 and ends Sunday the 12th. You see the video of the shot that just happened at the Phoenix Open. In VR you will also see the shot tracer from the tee to the player’s end position, as well as their putts in the real world AND the virtual world, aka The Metaverse, so you are able to compete against them in (almost) real-time. Golf claps.
This Week In AI: Director Makes Dramatic Video With AI In Two Hours. This topic used to fit neatly into this newsletter but seems now to demand its own. Do I have time to run on two tracks? Will there be enough AI news to sustain a separate column? We’re going to find out soon.
I wore Ray-Ban Stories with built-in cameras on vacation — here’s what surprised me (Kate Kozuch/Tom’s Guide)
Inside Meow Wolf’s Living, Breathing Metaverse (Scott Stein/Cnet)
Quick testing sessions of Nreal Air, LAWK, iQiYi Mix, and more! (Tony Vitillo/Skarred Ghost)
Meta’s VR hellscape might soon be invaded by children
Report: Meta to Open ‘Horizon Worlds’ to Younger Teens Amid Renewed Retention Push. This is the most depressing story of the week. Meta already has a problem with kids in Horizon Worlds.
Here’s why Meta is shutting down Echo VR (Jay Peters/The Verge
Here’s why virtual reality won’t be tech’s ‘next big thing’ (Navneet Alang/Toronto Star)
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.