Welcome back to Spatial Beats. “Whatever happened to the metaverse?” asked the Financial Times last week. Indeed, the question could be asked of Crypto and Web3, all of which are descending the “slope of disillusion” on Gartner Hype Cycle, on their way from “peak of elevated expectations” to the “trough of disillusion.” VR languished there until the launch of the Quest. Even the Internet experienced it in 2000. The hype cycle is validated over and over again, even though XR and Metaverse experts warn it will take a decade or more to fully manifest. In the thrall of a powerful new technology, AI, we inevitably forget the lessons of history. We’d like to think this time it’s different, but we always say that. I could be wrong, but we’re talking about humans now, not technology. I don’t think AI will change that, not yet.
I have a lot more to say in the companion column This Week in AI: Too Much Like Us?
For the first time in months, there was no Meta schadenfreude this week. Everyone was talking about AI, and while Meta’s beatings continue, they are back in the embrace of Wall St. tech analysts. Some are the same ones who yelled fire back in 2022 when Meta’s numbers’ whiff supposedly spooked them. When you pull the strings you know how high and low the yoyo can go. Must be nice.
Bigscreen Is Launching a VR Headset. The PC tethered HMD is the smallest yet, and has 2.5K x 2.5K per-eye resolution. It has face tracking and external color cameras, you can even get a custom made face gasket, but it does use the Steam external tracking system. At $999, without controllers, base stations, or any other accessories, this is pricey for consumers. On the other hand, for a Valve Index, Vive Pro or Cosmos user looking for a more robust graphic experience with a better form factor, this could be an overdue upgrade.
Anima unveils AI-based Onlybots augmented reality pets. Onlybots can now speak to their owners and each other, as a result of the company’s integration with artificial intelligence systems from OpenAI and the development of thematic personalities that change over time. Onlybots are limited edition NFTs right now, but the company says they will soon be succeeded by more accessible versions. Company funding came from HashKey, Not Boring Capital, Polygon Studios and NGC Ventures, Coinbase Ventures, Flamingo, and Divergence Ventures.
Anything World, is releasing a fully rigged insect and crustacea 3D model collection. The new 3D and AI-driven model expands the possibilities for users, designers and creatives. The models are available in the company’s recently-launched Web Gallery and in the Unity store. The London-based company announced it raised $7.5 M in November, 2022, bringing total financing to $9.3M.
Snap Adds Ray Tracing to Lens Studio. Ray Tracing, a technical capability that enhances the realism of augmented reality experiences by reflecting light on digital objects, is now available in Snap Lens Studio, the company’s creator tool for amateurs and professionals. Now, Lenses that feature AR diamond jewelry, clothing and so much more can reach ultra-realistic quality.
Frame, the browser-based, device agnostic training and education platform, just launched a boatload of new features, including analytics, a new API, experimental full body avatars, new graphics capabilities, a redesigned user interface. Frame is a subsidiary of Virbela, the massive, successful 3D social network for business. Virbela launched Frame as a pilot in 2020 to address business communication needs without a weight of the Virbela app.
Spatial Is Offering a New Home to Virtual Worlds at the Internet’s Favorite Price. With Microsoft shuttering Altspace, there are fewer free hosting options for builders of the Metaverse, and Spatial keeps adding features to attract them. A year on from its initial pivot to become the metaverse for culture and creators, 1.1 M spaces, 3D virtual worlds, have been created.
Orlando is the only city we know of that has its own massive digital twin, (unless you count Google maps as a digital twin). To attract more technology companies, workers, and investors to Orlando, the Mayor said there are 2,500 Open Positions to Build Metaverse in the Orlando MetaCenter. The city is already a major center for simulation and training.
Sony’s PSVR 2 is a terrific upgrade, but not a must-have, says Axios’ Stephen Totilo. The bottom line: PSVR 2 is very good, if you don’t mind the price, the wire and understand the trade-offs inherent to immersive VR gaming.
Why you should use new generative AI in your metaverse company. Or maybe not (Tony Vitillo/Skarred Ghost Blog)
Apple headset will be “Macintosh moment,” says former Apple XR manager (Tomislav Bezmalinovic /Mixed)
Apple’s mixed reality headset will reportedly debut at WWDC in June (Jon Fingas/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.