Microsoft Ignite, the company’s annual developer and press event, turned heads this week with its introduction of a world mapping Azure suite of XR apps, and real time telepresence with AR that works across devices, not just HMDs, called Mesh. The company is going all in on Mixed Reality, to paraphrase its chief executive Satya Nadella, who used Microsoft’s AltspaceVR platform for his keynote.
Elon Musk’s company SpaceX successfully landed its Starship vehicle from high-altitude for the first time. Slightly more than six minutes after launching, the Starship was safely on Earth, landing vertically on its fins, just like space ship should. Ten minutes later, as the dust and smoke dissipated, the rocket exploded with a dramatic flourish.
Microsoft Telepresence is now possible on multiple devices.
Microsoft launches Mesh, allowing much-awaited fully-embodied real time telepresence, which requires additional sensors. The livestream featured HoloLens topkick Alex Kipman and celebrity guests. Mesh can supposedly be added to existing applications with a single line of code.
Microsoft and Niantic showcase a multiplayer ‘Pokémon Go’ prototype on HoloLens 2 in the same demo at the Ignite conference. This experience might bring a properly grounded volumetric Pokemon into the physical world. Although the prototype does not represent a consumer product, it opens the possibility for a potential consumer HoloLens in the future. Interestingly, Niantic, which has its own world-mapping strategy with recently acquired 6D.ai, is now playing the field, trying different solutions to hiding a Pokemon behind a tree.
Omni One’s SeedInvest campaign has surpassed $11M; ends April 2nd. The campaign has over 11,000 investors, making it one of the fastest uptake in SeedInvest’s history. The Omni One is an omni-directional treadmill which lets users walk and run inside games and virtual worlds in VR.
Psychic VR Lab raises $8.5M to grow Web-XR platform, STYLY. The tool allows users to build cross-platform 3D experiences which can be viewed in browsers or VR/AR devices. The new funding will help with organizational structure and converting spaces into STYLY.
Bank of America is bringing VR instruction to its 4,000 banks. The company announced that they will partner up with Strivr to bring more of its workplaces virtual training in banking and empathy in regards to sensitive matters. Although still in an experimental phase, it could mean that over 50,000 employees might have the opportunity to bring VR to its branches. Corporate America is slowly seeing the use cases of VR.
Oculus has partnered with Virtuclear to offer prescription lenses for the Quest 2 for $80. You can now buy them directly on the Quest website. For people who wear glasses like me, this is great news. The inserts go from 0 to -8.0 SPH Prescription Range.
Rumors surface about a new Oculus Quest Pro VR HMD. According to Tom’s Guide, during an AMA on Instagram, Oculus’s VP of AR/VR Andrew Bosworth responded to a comment about a $600 headset with advanced specs. To this, he said “Quest Pro, huh? Interesting,” before winking at the camera. We will find out what Facebook has planned soon enough, but until then, enjoy your 5-month old Quest 2.
Virtual music platforms have reached the huge audience that live cannot.
Looped, a global virtual venue and interactive digital program, raised $7.7M in initial funding from over 100 investors. The virtual venue makes audiences active participants with real-time fan widgets including merch, polling, games, a global chat, and ‘backstage’ capabilities for one-on-one video chats directly with creators. Since the launch in 2019, the company has had over 300,000 fans and over 1,000 creators such as the original cast of Hamilton, Billie Eilish, and BTS.
Burned Banksy NFT Sets Art And Crypto Worlds Alight. An anonymous guild of “art digitalists” bought an original Banksy and then lit it on fire, but not before capturing an NFT of it. Banksy agency authenticated the event, marking the first time an artwork has been burnt and then sold in the digital form. As of writing, the current bid is just over $14,000 in crypto. Other digital artworks have sold for $8M or more.
Epson unveils their new Moverio BT-40 and BT-40S AR Smart Glasses. The new product boasts a wider field of view (FOV), Full HD 1080p display resolution, high contrast, improved connectivity, and a more comfortable, adjustable and easy-to-wear design. The BT-40 and BT-40s glasses are now available to pre-order and will be available on Amazon in Q2 for $579 and $999 respectively.
South By Southwest announces SXSW Online XR. This SWSW Online XR will be virtual recreations of Congress Avenue and the Red River Cultural District, featuring 2D video feeds of SXSW Programming, Meet-Ups, Special Events and Special 360-degree videos. The events will be hosted through VRrOOm on VRChat.
NYC Media Lab to host “Technology + Storytelling: Engaging The Immersive Future” on March 10th, 10AM to 3PM ET. The event will utilize a new VR technology called OhYay, which is in conjunction with Snap. The forum will be free and open to the public with several panels from industry professionals. To register for the event, please visit here.
This Week in XR is now a podcast hosted by Paramount’s Futurist Ted Schilowitz and Charlie Fink, the author of this weekly column. You can find it on podcasting platforms Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube.
What We’re Reading
No More FOMO. Top firms turn to VR to liven up meetings. (The Guardian)
Cleanbox CEO Amy Hedrick Is Saving the AR & VR World One Headset at a Time Through Virus-Fighting Tech (Next Reality)
Four reasons you’re tired of Zoom calls — and what to do about it (The Washington Post)
Forbes contributor Charlie Fink is the Author of “Remote Collaboration & Virtual Conferences, The Future of Work” (2020), “Convergence” (2019) and “Charlie Fink’s