Weekly metaverse and VR/AR analysis // 31 August 2022
I strived to get a tan, and I failed yet again. Also, I wrote a piece for The Drum on the role of Chief Metaverse Officers.
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New appointments at PwC, and sightings of a Pro
EXCLUSIVE: PwC UK appoints Alex Rühl to lead its Metaverse Technologies team.
- Rühl will be taking over from Jeremy Dalton. Dalton will be moving on to a Director role in PwC’s global metaverse initiatives, in Austin.
- “It’s an incredibly exciting opportunity to lead such a dynamic team in an organisation that has invested heavily in metaverse technologies for many years now,” said Rühl. “I look forward to continuing to work with Jeremy as we promote the business value of the metaverse to organisations all over the world.”
The Quest Pro was spotted in the wild, via the Zesty SDK.
- Speaking of…
Meta confirmed on the Joe Rogan podcast that the next headset is coming in October.
- It’s unique that Mark Zuckerberg announced this on the show. It was a short comment, instead of a coordinated campaign, or perhaps a curated announcement at Meta Connect.
- It’s like Sony announcing the PS6 via a Bloomberg interview. It works, yes, but it lacks the spectacle of a significant event and front-loading it with specs and software. The comparison is fair, too; Zuckerberg mentioned that Quest sales are comparable to Sony and Microsoft’s hardware.
- I would have announced it differently, but who knows – perhaps the October event has some surprises up its sleeves (rather than its legless trousers).
Nreal X and Air AR glasses were released in China.
- While a smattering of companies are building AR glasses (Meta, Niantic, Snapchat), Nreal has built the first all-in-one versions for Chinese consumers.
- At 79g, the Air version is remarkably light.
- But it’s the Nreal X which I am keeping a close eye at. With 6DoF and decent specs, it’s only slightly heavier – and may be a precursor to more hardcore glasses.
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- AR/VR Policy Summit is happening on 14 September.
- AWE EU is happening on 20 to 21 October.
- BFI London Film Festival announced the complete line-up for LFF Expanded, happening on 5 to 16 October 2022.
- Fast Travel Games unveiled the upcoming VR co-op action title EVERSLAUGHT Invasion for Meta Quest 2.
- GatherVerse EU Summit is happening 20 to 21 September.
- Houston Museum of Natural Science and BASE Xperiential unveiled the world’s first HoloTheater alongside its premiere experience, Dinosaur Discoveries: A Holographic Adventure.
- Immerse upgraded its platform with a few features.
- Metaverse Safety Week is happening on 10 to 15 December.
- Motive.io, the VR training platform, launched its software in the AWS Marketplace.
- Nike and BUCK partnered to make a webAR experience that captures the spirit of DNA (Department of Nike Archives).
- Open City Documentary Festival unveiled the Expanded Realities programme, which is our first to take place fully in person since 2019 and will run from 7 to 13 September.
- Owlchemy Labs teased its multiplayer hand-tracking experience.
- Sequin AR announced a partnership with Section 9 Entertainment and Dan LuVisi, to create a metaverse world based on his graphic novel, Last Man Standing: Killbook of a Bounty Hunter.
- Snap plans to lay off 20% of its staff.
- Steam Deck‘s UI will be used for Steam’s VR titles.
- SunflowAR is an immersive web-based augmented reality (WebAR) experience developed with the aim to cut through news fatigue about the war in Ukraine, raise awareness about increased humanitarian needs in the region and secure donations to help Ukrainian civilians.
- Scan the QR code below to see it:
The end users are human beings
Michaelangelo Rocco, Executive Creative Director for The Mill Experience
What is your background?
My passion for animation drove me to Los Angeles where I found work as a storyboard artist on serval TV shows including the hit show, America Dad. After a few years in TV animation, I received a surprise offer to join Disney Imagineering as a creative lead for their Connected Experiences team where I created news ways of connecting guests to Disney theme parks and resorts. After Disney, I moved to Osaka, Japan where I worked as an art director and creative lead on VR roller coasters and Cinema 4D attractions for Universal Studios Japan theme park. Creating 360-media that played in a VR headset and synced to the motion of the roller coaster in real-time was mind-blowing! It felt like the next evolution of animation. When the pandemic put an end to international travel, I joined the crew at Trigger, a mixed reality agency in Los Angeles, where I worked as an XR director designing VR installations and AR apps. It was an exciting job, but the offer to join The Mill as Executive Creative Director for its Experience team was too good to turn down. I currently lead a multidisciplinary team designing VR, AR, real-time animated characters, and immersive physical spaces for clients around the world.
What are you working on, and what’s a key learning that you’ve had from it?
The Mill Experience team just launched the official House of the Dragon app “DracARys”, which uses cutting-edge augmented reality to give fans the opportunity to raise their own dragon from a tiny hatchling to a colossal, fire-breathing beast. We’ve done work with procedural character design and creature AI before, but our key learnings here were in designing behaviors that can adapt to the variety of real-world environments. From tiny bedrooms to open skies, we had to make dragons of differing growth stages react to varying amounts of available space, something which has been fun to see develop.
If you had to give one piece of advice, what would you give?
I’ve been incredibly privileged to work with some very talented, very supportive people around the world. A company, a project, or even an idea is only as good as the people behind it. Join a great team that collaborates, communicates, and supports each other and all the mistakes we make as we struggle through experimenting with new technology will be worth it. As we focus on pushing the boundaries of bleeding-edge technology—VR, AR, or the Metaverse—let’s not forget that the end users are human beings. Ground-breaking experiences should have heart and feel like magic.
If you want to know more about Michaelangelo Rocco then click here to find out more.
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Tom Ffiske is the Editor of the Immersive Wire, a twice-weekly newsletter on the immersive industry.