The XR Week Peek (2022.06.20): Roblox may come to Quest, Meta launches Avatar Store, and more!

It seems that in many countries of the world this weekend was Father’s Day… so my best greetings to all of you that are fathers! It’s curious that actually in Italy we celebrate this in March… but who cares, whenever is the day, it’s always good to celebrate our daddies 
 I’ll be very upfront with you: this week in XR has been very boring, so you won’t find super-news here below, but there are some interesting things that have happened in our ecosystem anyway. One of them is that I’ve become for the third year a judge of the VR Awards! Yay! I am very thankful for the trust that AIXR puts in me, and I can’t wait to begin the judging process.

Top news of the week

(Image by Roblox)

Roblox may come to Meta Quest

There is a rumor that is circulating this week: Roblox may come to Meta Quest. I don’t know if it is true or only a rumor, but if it happens, this is huge news for virtual reality.
 The reason why I think that this news is super-important is two-sided:

On one side, it means that a platform with 50M of daily users is coming into virtual reality. One of the most popular virtual worlds (no, I’m not going to say the M-word) is coming to Quest, and this could make many Gen-Z people get the Quest to play it in a new innovative way. Roblox already supports VR on PC via some special tricks, but with an official Quest app, it would become totally VR-compatible;
On the other side, it means that such an important company now thinks that Quest is a platform into which is worth investing. And this would be a huge validation for Meta’s ecosystem.

If this happens, Meta should be very happy about this possibility. But it is also true that with Roblox coming to Quest, Horizon Worlds would have another fierce competitor stealing its users, after VRChat and Rec Room.
 We have no official confirmation of this news, apart from some rumors, and images like the one above, which seems to have been shared during an earnings call by Roblox. Anyway, I absolutely hope that this is happening, because it would be super-beneficial for the XR ecosystem.
 (Thanks Yves-Marie Poirier and Simptaro for the tip!)

More info (Roblox on Quest — Rumor n.1)
More info (Roblox on Quest — Rumor n.2)

Other relevant news

(Image by Meta)

Meta launches Avatar Store

Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Meta will open a store for the Meta avatars. In this store, it will be possible to purchase new clothes for your Meta avatar, and use them at first on Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram, and in the future also in Virtual Reality. To start, you will be able to buy clothes for your digital self from important fashion brands like Balenciaga, Prada, and Thom Browne.
 I think that Meta’s vision is clear: start selling beautifications for the digital avatars in the Meta ecosystem, in the beginning just from important brands, to then open it to everyone and kickstart the content creation economy of the M-word. I think it’s an important move, because it shows how Meta is totally committed in having this new business model of the creators’ economy, alongside the one about ads.

More info (Meta Avatar Store / VR Scout)
More info (Meta Avatar Store / TechCrunch)

Engage teases Engage Link

Engage is one of the most appreciated virtual reality professional social ecosystems, and it is used a lot for enterprise meetings and presentations and for university lessons. Some months ago, the company behind it teased it was going to launch a virtual world, dubbed Oasis, that should have become “The Linkedin of the M-word”. This week, for the first time, we had a look at it.
 With a video on Youtube, the always amazing Chris Madsen introduced us to the spaces of this new virtual ecosystem. The name has changed and it is now called “Engage Link”, because after TPLink, Oculus Link, Looxid Link, and Pico Neo 3 Link, we needed something else with the name Link. For sure the name Link has been chosen because it reminds a bit “Linkedin”: if they wanted to become the new Reddit, it would have been “Engage Red”, or going this way, I can’t wait for the future products “Engage Tik”, or “Engage Face”, or “Engage Insta”.
 Jokes apart, in the video it is possible to see the graphics of the virtual world, which seems good, and the style of the world, which is very clean and corporate. Everything looks like a big serious city, divided into districts depending on the activities to perform: there is the ‘Central Plaza” which is the main hub; and ‘Enterprise Plaza’ and ‘Education Plaza’, where you can find portals to spaces where to perform corresponding activities. Everyone has also a personal apartment in this virtual world, where to host colleagues and friends for more private activities (e.g. parties).
 The idea is to create a virtual world where to create meaningful work connections and perform activities related to your work. The idea is conceptually interesting, and I’m curious to see how it has been developed because it has the potential of becoming the Linkedin of the future, but also the one of failing miserably because it’s too clunky or too early in time. Let’s see!

More info

News worth a mention

(Image by Meta)

Horizon Worlds arrives in the UK

Meta is finally rolling out Horizon Worlds outside of North America. The social XR space is now coming to the UK, with the release to more countries in Europe to be expected later this summer. Meta has also added new moderation features to its social VR application, and it is now possible to avoid hearing what the people you don’t know are saying.

More info (Horizon Worlds lands in the UK)
More info (New “garbling voices” feature)

Tribeca Film Festival has awarded three VR experiences

The Tribeca Festival, which also featured a beautiful VR version on Museum Of Other Realities, has just finished. Three VR experiences have been awarded:

The Storyscapes Award and the $10,000 prize went to Kubo Walks The City

New Voices Award has gone to LGBTQ + VR Museum, an experience by Antonia Forster, who all of us love
A special jury mention for the Storyscapes Award went to EVOLVER

Compliments to all the winners, I can’t wait to try their experiences!

More info (VR edition of Tribeca Film Festival)
More info (All the winners of Tribeca Film Festival)

We are not ready to work in VR, yet

One of the most shared news in our communities this week has been the research article “Quantifying the Effects of Working in VR for One Week”, which has proven that working in VR to do standard 2D tasks (e-mails, word, etc…) is less productive than doing this on a standard PC. The reasons are obvious: it is less comfortable, it may lead to nausea, the interface is clunkier, eyes get tired soon, etc… A huge “You don’t say”. But people seemed very surprised by it.
 VR is not ready to make people work 8 hours a day in it, yet. We need at least 2 new hardware versions in my opinion to reach that stage. I tried working with a Valve Index myself, and after 4 hours my head and eyes were tired. The day we can work in VR will come but in a few years.

More info

Quest runtime v41 is rolling out

A new version of the Quest runtime is rolling out, and it is bringing with it the very needed parental control tools, plus a beta fix for Oculus Link not working well on Windows 11. I am glad that Meta is working on the problems that the community has notified it about.

More info

Some articles on the metaverse

As every week, let me notify you the most interesting articles I have found about the M-word:

McKinsey & Company has published the results of a survey about the metaverse. The report seems to be a bit too biased on the positive side, but it is still interesting to be read. For instance, it shows that even if almost no one understood entirely what is the metaverse, most people have at least grasped something about the concept. Plus, Gen-Z and Millenials are the generations that are interested the most in it;

Alvin Wang Graylin (Mister President) and Kevin Geiger had a very interesting chat in which they talked about the metaverse, China, blockchain, and HTC Vive. I think there are some interesting insights in the interview, and so it is worth reading it. Just to give an example: Alvin comments that the transparency of the blockchain is good up to a point. Would you be happy if everyone could make a query and see how much money you own? I don’t think so…
New World Notes is at it again commenting on the Web3 worlds, which are mostly desert. Some people say that we shouldn’t value them for the current users, but for the future potential, but NWN’s author comments that this was an error already made with Second Life. Evaluating platforms for a cloudy “future potential” has little meaning, and only present verifiable users count should be given high credit.

More info (McKinsey and Company’s report)
More info (Kevin Geiger and Alvin Wang Graylin)
More info (New World Notes on Web3 worlds)

Meta study the use of iPhone for scanning Codec Avatars

You all know that Meta is doing this very interesting research about super-realistic avatars called Codec Avatars. Until now recording your face for such an avatar required to use a dedicated volumetric videos studio, while with the latest research experiment, you can perform the procedure just with a commercial iPhone. This is a great step forward for usability.

More info

Steam Next Fest lets you try some interesting VR games

It is that time of the year again, and thanks to Steam Next Fest you can try for free the demos of some cool VR games that are going to be released in the next months!

More info

Some news on content

Upload has reviewed Green Hell on PC. It’s very interesting that in this case, the game on PC has substantial differences (not only in the graphics) from the one on Quest

Half-Life: Alyx “Levitation” Mod brings 4–5 hours of gameplay to the game, with a high-quality that seems to come from Valve itself

Beat Saber has released new tracks with the remix of some of its most popular songs

Demeo has released its 4th episode “Curse of the Serpent Lord”. According to Alex VR, it is the best episode ever released

Multiplayer VR shooter Vail should get a beta in July

SuperNatural is going to use Meta’s money to release every month levels with the soundtrack of a different popular artist. This month is the turn of Katy Perry

Puzzling Places is adding a cool passthrough AR mode

Mothergunship Forge is available now for Quest and SteamVR. According to Upload, the game is very fun thanks to its crazy system of letting you assemble weapons on your wrist

A VR mod for Dark Souls is in the works by Luke Ross.

More info (Green Hell — PC VR review)
More info (Half-Life: Alyx “Levitation”)
More info (Beat Saber Mixtape remix)
More info (Demeo’s 4th episode)
More info (Vail)
More info (SuperNatural)
More info (Puzzling Places)
More info (Mothergunship Forge release)
More info (Mothergunship Forge review)
More info (Dark Souls VR Mod)

Other news

Road To VR has published one of his amazing behind-the-scenes articles about Moss Book 2

Learn more

NVIDIA has presented on its blog another use case of enterprise collaboration in VR that uses 5G and cloud rendering

Learn more

Ultraleap has added physics hands with realistic grip to its SDK

Learn more

According to Valve News Network, Valve may be working on a new space exploration VR game

Learn more

Part of your data on Tik Tok may still be accessible from China. You don’t say

Learn more

News from partners (and friends)

Enea Le Fons’s consultancy services

My friend Enea Le Fons, the man behind the “30 days in VR” now offers consultancies with a first free chat available. If you want to exploit his long experience with VR and design, book a timeslot of his here below.
Learn more

Participate in the AR/VR Survey and win prizes

I just got this from my friends at Slash Data:
 AR/VR creators, this survey is for you. Which tools and platforms are you using to build mind-bending creations? Take the survey to help the global community learn more about the skills and technologies necessary to succeed in 2022.
 The survey takes about 15 minutes and covers VR, AR, and mixed reality sectors. It’s available in English, Chinese (Simplified), Spanish, Vietnamese, and Russian. Just pick a language you’re most comfortable with.
 In return for your effort, you will enter prize draws for a chance to win $500 towards your AR/VR project, a $100 Amazon voucher, $30 Gumroad ebook of your choice, swag, and more. If you have a few extra minutes, promote the survey for a chance to win up to $1,000 USD in cash.
 The survey welcomes creators of all profiles: no-code, developers, students, hobbyists, and professionals.
 Take the survey before it closes, on August 4th.

Learn more and participate

Some XR fun

Lucas Rizzotto has invented THE FARTVERSE
Funny link / 1
Funny link / 2

They got me in the first half, not gonna lie
Funny link

VRChat in a nutshell
Funny link

Valve Index I love you, Valve Index I hate you
Funny link

Latest Meta’s concept of the metaverse reminds me something…
Funny link

I think that with this news, the metaverse community has reached the lowest point ever.
Funny link

Donate for good

Like last week, also this week in this final paragraph I won’t ask you to donate for my blog, but to the poor people that are facing the consequences of the war. Please donate to the Red Cross to handle the current humanitarian situation in Ukraine. I will leave you the link to do that below.
 Let me take a moment before to thank anyway all my Patreon donors for the support they give to me:

Alex Gonzalez VR
Raghu Bathina
Eduardo Siman
Jonn Fredericks
Jean-Marc Duyckaerts
Reynaldo T Zabala
Richard Penny
Terry xR. Schussler
Ilias Kapouranis
Michael Bruce
Paolo Leoncini
Bob Fine
Nikk Mitchell and the great FXG team
Jake Rubin
Alexis Huille
Jennifer Granger
Jason Moore
Steve Biggs
Niels Bogerd
Julio Cesar Bolivar
Jan Schroeder
Kai Curtis
Francesco Strada
Sikaar Keita
Ramin Assadollahi
Jeff Dawson
Juan Sotelo
Andrew Sheldon
Chris Madsen
Tracey Wong
Matthew Allen Fisher
Horacio Torrendell
Andrew Deutsch
Fabien Benetou
Tatiana Kartashova
Marco “BeyondTheCastle” Arena
Eloi Gerard
Adam Boyd
Jeremy Dalton
Siciliana Trevino
Joel Ward
Alex P
Marguerite Espin de la Vega
Lynn Eades
Donald P
Casie Lane
Renan Paglinawan
Catherine Henry
Enrico Poli
Vooiage Technologies
Liam James O’Malley
Paul Reynolds
Hillary Charnas
Wil Stevens
Brian Peiris
Rhys Coombes
Francesco Salizzoni
Alan Smithson
Steve R
Matias Nassi

And now here you are the link to donate:

Support The Red Cross in Ukraine

(Header image from Bloxy News)

The post The XR Week Peek (2022.06.20): Roblox may come to Quest, Meta launches Avatar Store, and more! appeared first on The Ghost Howls.

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