Apple Punts See-Through AR, Layoffs Hit HoloLens, Metaverse Fashion Start Up Raises $6 Million

The World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland was this week and both Metaverse and AI were among the hot topics discussed by industry’s most senior executives, world government officials, and think tanks like the World Economic Forum.

The World (WEF) Economic Forum Plans to Bring Leaders Together in the Metaverse The virtual village, created by Microsoft and Accenture, 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 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.” Because. I guess the Internet can’t do that?

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, according to one of its founders, Tim Brenners-Lee.

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 and AI, which has been characterized 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 is going to 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, many of them in the remnants of Alex Kipman’s HoloLens 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, first 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.

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 and Evade. Twenty experiences attracted over 1 billion visits in 2022: Brookhaven, Blox Fruits, BedWars, Tower of Hell, 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 venerated Voices of VR podcast by Kent Bye, The AR Show is the new “Industry XR Leaders” podcast from ArborXR Co-Founders Brad Scoggin and Will Stackable who feature enterprise XR executives from companies using the technology like Amazon, Walmart, Pfizer, UPS, and Koch Industries.

This Week in XR is also a podcast hosted by the author of this column, Ted Schilowitz, Head of Future Technologies at Paramount Global, and Rony Abovitz, founder of Magic Leap. This week our guest is Dan Robinson, co-founder and CEO of Red6, which has created an AR system for aerial combat and other flight training for the military. We can be found on Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube.

What We’re Reading

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)

This Week in Schadenfreude

Meta faces a future of more legal woes and falling revenues (Arthur Sullivan/DW)

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