Your weekly briefing on the metaverse // 19 September 2022
Today, UK-based readers will be mourning the passing of Elizabeth II, during the state funeral. My thoughts go to the family and country today.
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Say hello to the Metaverse Institute
EXCLUSIVE: The Metaverse Institute launches, and is looking for experts to identify those making a positive impact.
- What is it? The Metaverse Institute is made up of a group of pioneers and leaders in the metaverse, artificial intelligence, and other related technologies.
- What is the goal? The purpose is to identify and evaluate the most innovative companies seeking to operate in this field, focusing on ones that aim to drive a positive impact.
- Dr Christina Yan Zhang, CEO of The Metaverse Institute, said: “I started academic research on the metaverse in 2006, and my PhD was on practical use-cases for using digital twin in the metaverse for the construction industry. So it is really exciting to see these technologies coming into the mainstream today. Our Institute is made up of leading pioneers in the metaverse, artificial intelligence, and digital strategy consulting and we want to help individuals and organisations identify the metaverse technologies that will bring real-world benefits to them, and to wider society.”
- To contribute as an expert, you may find Christina here.
Somnium Space partnered with Vrgineers to make an open source VR headset.
- The headset will not have any policies from centralised bodies, and it will be sold under an unlimited commercial license using Android as an open-source operating system.
- I am in full support of this. Open source applications drive a lot of innovation and present more options for commercial businesses who want to tailor their VR solutions in their own way.
Disney said its future in the metaverse lies with Disney+, but not in the way you think.
- Bob Chapek outlined that the company wants to bring the theme park experience to its streaming service, calling it ‘next-gen storytelling’ – though he did not like the word ‘metaverse’ to describe it, implying that it does not represent the overall vision. The long and short of it is that Disney+ will be an ‘experiential lifestyle platform,’ a departure from its streaming label.
- The word ‘metaverse’ obfuscates a company’s true ambitions. It goes well beyond, and shows how flimsy the metaverse is as a label.
What do you think of the Metaverse Institute? Join the discussion and meet like-minded professionals on the Immersive Wire Discord.
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- Blippar integrated its WebAR SDK into Unity.
- Cognitive3D raised $2.5m in funding, to fuel its growth in spatial analytics.
- Cosmo Media Labs announced its official launch today after securing an investment from The Sandbox.
- This is the first time The Sandbox has taken a financial stake in an independent production company.
- Engage XR Holdings announced its half-year results today, showing revenues up 41% to €1.76m.
- Also, the development of our new platform, ENGAGE Link, is expected to go live before the end of 2022
- European Commission unveiled the VR/AR Industrial Commission, as well as made the metaverse its priority for the ‘digital age’ of Europe.
- FATES is a new web3 project based around worldbuilding.
- Under the bridges of Waterloo station Aures London, the dystopian stage was already set for the announcement, code-named Project Night Shade. An immersive space, all surrounding walls were covered in projections that would soon reveal the new immersive world of ‘FATES’. It uses web3 for owning items and characters as part of the journey, though we need to see more before we can comment further – Grant Cooper, who attended the launch event.
- Google made an I process that can turn 2D images into 3D structures.
- Still a ways to go, but impressive use of AI.
- HaptX announced a $23m in funding, to continue its growth.
- NASA and Google made an AR solar system together.
- NeXR Technologies SE announced a partnership with H&M Thailand to implement a virtual fitting solution.
- Northeastern University received a bomb threat, from a violent metaverse skeptic.
- PlayStation unveiled more details and trailers on the PS VR2, including its lack of compatibility with its previous headset.
- I do not mind this, so long as it makes sizable leaps in fidelity and gameplay.
- Storyblok found that over 20% of retailers and e-commerce companies are already extending their CMS to display content into metaverse environments, to showcase their branded images and products.
- The study includes VR and AR, and the stats are based in the US.
- Ultimechs, the free-to-play VR sports game, launched on Quest 2, Steam VR, and Pico headsets.
- Varjo secures $40m in funding, to continue its XR expansion.
- Vatom announced a partnership with Komodo Technologies, to launch its new web3 recording capabilities.
- VR Art Prize is looking for new projects, under the theme of ‘Virtual Utopias.’
- VR Awards opened up public voting, for VR game and content creator of the year.
- Disclaimer: I am a judge at the VR Awards (which was a lot of fun this year, BTW; 2022 has been excellent).
- XR Pitch Battle is a five-minute pitch event with €10,000 up for grabs.
Looking for assistance
Want to receive help from readers of the Immersive Wire? Send an email with ‘looking for assistance’ in the subject line to tom (at) immersivewire (dot) com.
- Electric Skies is looking for a UK based, Mid/ Senior level, Unreal Generalist, to work on a music based XR project. Starting in November and running for 9 months. Message here for more details.
Seek to be uncomfortable
Sly Spencer Lee, co-founder and co-CEO of Emerge
What is your background?
Most tech founders have the same story; interested in computers as a kid, parents bought him one, and rest is history. I’m probably as far from that as you can get- I’m a first-generation Asian American who grew up in the deep south- Mississippi. Educated as a marine toxicologist/ ecologist, lived in a leprosy colony in Hawaii as a scientist for a few years, worked in developing countries which led me to find my passion at building companies starting with my first- an oceans education non-profit, The Hydrous, funded by Google, Autodesk, and the Smithsonian.
What are you working on, and what’s a key learning that you’ve had from it?
I am pursuing my personal legend at Emerge, where we are on a mission to build a new category of product we call the “Connected Human” – similar to how Nest pioneered the Connected Home, with a first product that enables the sense of touch in the Metaverse. Emerge Wave-1 is a consumer device that emits sound waves (ultrasound forcefields) that you can physically feel with bare hands- imagine a “virtual high five” in the Metaverse.
I’ve learned an insane amount building Emerge, which is what keeps me going- the vast amount there is still left to learn. 2 things that come to mind are the art and grit that it takes to build and ship a consumer hardware device- which is becoming harder as of lately with the supply chain global situation. There’s a book level amount of learnings there- Tony Fadell captured it very well in hist latest book, Build.
Another learning I’ve been digesting lately is everything around being “here now”, self actualization and the journey, which truly is the purpose to all of “this”. Alan Watts put it really well, something along the lines of… “a person that cannot be present in the now has no business planning for the future”
If you had to give one piece of advice, what would you give?
Most generic advice has been given already so I’ll attempt something more “out there.” Probably the most significant piece of advice that has shaped me in the last year that I’ll pass along is listen to the lectures of Alan Watts. Will change your life and hopefully give you more perspective.
A bonus piece of advice: seek to be uncomfortable as often as possible. I’ve started Wim Hof breathwork + Ice baths a few times a week and it has been transcendental.
If you want to know more about Sly Lee, you can check him out here.
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Editor, Immersive Wire
Tom Ffiske is the Editor of the Immersive Wire, a twice-weekly newsletter on the immersive industry.