The XR Week Peek (2023.05.23): Leaks and rumors about Apple headset intensify, VRChat to launch Creator Economy, and more!
It’s been a strange week. On the technological side, it has been exciting. Since there is the possibility that Apple announces its headset soon, all the companies are rushing to announce what they have in the pipeline before the big day. This means that these days we are going to have a lot of announcements. This and the next editions of the newsletter are going to be full of cool pieces of news.
On the work side, it has been busy, very busy. I’m also working on a cool tech prototype and I will share it with you very soon in the next few days on this blog. Be sure not to miss it! Next week I’ll also be at AWE. So the next 2–3 weeks are going to be crazy for me, so sorry if I will make the comments on the newsletter a bit shorter than usual.
On the personal side, I’m a bit devasted by the flood that happened in central Italy. My city has not been affected, I’m kinda distant from there (thanks to everyone that asked if I was ok), but seeing the images of what happened there tore my heart. In the Friends section of this newsletter, I will tell you how you can donate to the people affected by this terrible event if you want.
Ok, enough talking about me now…
Top news of the week
(Image by The Information)
The rumors on the Apple headset intensify
The 5th of June is getting closer and closer, and the rumors about the upcoming Apple headset grow continuously. This week we had a few of them… let me try to list the most relevant ones:
Palmer Luckey confirmed he actually tried an early version of the Apple headset, so he was not just trolling when he commented about the headset being “so good”. He said that Apple is going to “make VR into something everybody wants before it’s something that everybody can afford”, like the original Oculus
The trademark XROS has been registered by a shell company owned by Apple. Most likely that will be the name of its operating system
The headset should be launched at WWDC according to all the most relevant Apple analysts. Kuo now sustains that Apple told the manufacturers that the device may sell 7–10M units in its first year of life. I find this rumor pretty bizarre: at $3000, unless Apple found a very relevant use case, those numbers are very difficult to obtain
The BOM (Bill Of Materials) of the headset has been leaked. The various components cost around $1500, so if the headset has to be sold with a margin, it should cost at least $2000
Someone sustains the Apple headset may even connect to PCs to act as their virtual monitors. I’m a bit skeptical about this, though
Hideo Kojima has been seen around Cupertino last week, so someone is speculating that either he’s porting Death Stranding to iOS, or he’s building a mixed-reality experience for the new headset
A report by Bloomberg states that the headset is a compromised version of what Apple would have liked to do. Technology is in its early stages, and even a company like Apple can’t bend the laws of physics. It seems that Tim Cook wanted to aim directly at making AR glasses, but the team showed him that a mixed reality headset would have been a more viable solution, while being a step toward the glasses’ vision
More info (Palmer Luckey about the Apple headset — Road To VR)
More info (Palmer Luckey about the Apple headset — Upload VR)
More info (Apple headset to be unveiled at WWDC)
More info (Apple trademarks XROS)
More info (Apple engineers convinced Cook to make an MR headset)
More info (Bloomberg’s report about the Apple headset)
More info (Apple headset BOM)
More info (Apple headset BOM / 2)
More info (Apple headset should feature MR games)
More info (Kuo predicting the headset to sell 7–10M)
More info (Apple headset working with a PC?)
More info (Apple is ready to unveil its headset)
More info (Kojima spotted at the Apple Campus)
Other relevant news
(Image by VRChat)
VRChat to implement Creator Economy
VRChat is probably the most popular of the VR social platforms. Until now, it managed to attract lots of users, but it didn’t focus much on monetization. Things are going to change soon: the company has announced that it is going to implement a Creator Economy pretty soon. The creator economy will finally let the thousands of content creators on the platform earn money for their work directly inside the VRChat, without having to resort to external tools like Patreon. The Creator Economy should affect all the figures that are currently making content for VRChat, like world creators, avatar creators, performers, and so on. It will start as a very closed beta, and be released to the general public later this year.
I think this news is huge: VRChat has a continuously growing community, and it could finally become a platform with its own economy. We may have many people that can just live out of their work on VRChat. I hope this works well, for the good of the whole VR ecosystem.
Meta may partner soon with Magic Leap
The Financial Times this week reported a very unexpected piece of news: Meta may be working on a partnership with Magic Leap for the production of AR glasses.
The partnership may revolve around two main points:
Manufacturing capabilities. Magic Leap has factories in the US and Mexico able to produce AR glasses. Meta may ask Magic Leap for support in the production of its own glasses so that to reduce its reliance on China
IP. Magic Leap has knowledge of how to build AR glasses, and some of its components are really good. Meta may decide to use some of them in the glasses that it is building.
Both companies didn’t answer this rumor. But Peggy Johnson, Magic Leap CEO, a few months ago hinted at the fact that partnerships could have been a good way of making business for the company in the upcoming months. And this makes us think that this partnership may come true.
More info (Original report)
More info (Road To VR talks about this potential partnership)
Sightful Spacetop is the first AR laptop
Startup Sightful has come out from stealth with a futuristic project: a laptop powered by AR glasses called Spacetop. It has only the keyboard and the touchpad, and then the screen is only virtual, visible through AR glasses connected to the computer.
The laptop is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2, so it is more like a Chromebook than a regular laptop. The AR glasses connected to it are a modified version of the Nreal Light, which feature a 53° field-of-view, and 1,920 × 1,080 resolution per eye.
The total cost of the device is $2000, and only 1000 units will be distributed in the first batch.
The idea is cool, but in my opinion a bit too much ahead of time. AR glasses have still a very limited field of view, so the idea of not having a physical screen, but just a very big virtual one is not going to work. Since the FOV of the glasses is very small, you can anyway just see a small portion of the big virtual screen at a time.
Anyway, a journalist from The Verge tried it and found it quite nice. But she highlighted the current technical limitations, too.
More info (Sightful Spacetop — Road To VR)
More info (Sightful Spacetop — Upload VR)
More info (The Verge goes hands-on with the device)
Meta ends support to Oculus Home on PC
This piece of news is not one of the most relevant ones on the practical side, but let’s say that I’m adding it to the top news category because of the emotional value it has. Meta has silently ended support for Oculus Home on PC.
Oculus Home was a feature launched for the Oculus Rift CV1 that let people configure their own home with gadgets, collectibles, games, and much more, and then invite their friends there. I still remember the excitement for when this feature was released, because it looked like a step towards the metaverse! Many people created fantastic home spaces of their own. Anyway, it had its share of problems: it was kinda messy and also very heavy for the hardware of the computer to run.
Now Meta has started to silently remove the support for it, and many people are losing the homes they crafted with much love. That’s so sad. It’s another part of my memory of the “good old days of VR” that goes away.
More info (Meta ends support for Oculus Home)
More info (People on Reddit trying to find a way to backup their own homes)
News worth a mention
(Image by Meta)
“Quest 3” started appearing on the Meta Store
All of a sudden, on the Meta Quest Store, all the titles have started showing compatibility with “Quest 3”. It’s not a secret that the Quest 3 is going to be launched this year, but this error made some people think that Meta is actually going to announce the Quest 3 during the gaming showcase on June 1st to anticipate the moves by Apple. In my opinion, it is not going to happen because it would have little sense… but never say never.
CREAL shows lightfield AR display integrated on top of a classical lens
CREAL, one of the most interesting AR startups out there, has just announced its latest breakthrough innovation: it has been able to implement a light-field display on top of a classical lens. This means that using a prescription lens of standard glasses, is able to provide AR augmentations that have 3D stereo effect and focus at different depths like real objects. This new optical engine will be showcased at AWE, and I hope to be able to go hands-on with it.
More info (CREAL announcing its new lightfield innovation)
More info (Video showing the technology in action)
Samsung acquires eMagin
Samsung has just acquired eMagin, an American manufacturer of OLED microdisplays for AR/VR headsets, for $218M. Samsung hopes with this acquisition to acquire knowledge and technologies for the manufacturing of the displays of future XR headsets, of which Samsung may be a supplier.
More info (Samsung acquires eMagin — Road To VR)
More info (Samsung acquires eMagin — Upload VR)
Meta experiments with BMW the in-car use of headsets
Meta and BMW have just released a video related to an experiment they are doing together to integrate in-car MR entertainment. This looks a lot like Holoride, but there is an interesting twist: Meta has worked with BMW to make sure that the tracking of the headset works well also inside the car, which is not possible with a stock Quest 2 or Quest Pro. It is still not clear what could be the application of this technology, and both companies stated that for now, it is just R&D.
More info (Meta partners with BMW — Road To VR)
More info (Meta partners with BMW — Upload VR)
More info (Meta partners with BMW — Video shared by Zuck)
Some news about AI
Talking about artificial intelligence, I want to share with you two interesting pieces of news from this week:
Rodney Brooks, a super-expert about artificial intelligence, thinks that we are over-hyping AI and that large language models, while impressive, still lack the ability to think that is expected from an AGI. He also states that is not worried about AI because technology usually takes more time to be implemented than expected: widespread autonomous cars are always on the verge of arriving next year, but actually many years are needed before all the cars will just drive themselves alone
A guy on Linkedin showed a very cool experiment mixing ChatGPT with the new Maps features announced by Google: if you input the name of a city, the application takes you to have an aerial view of it and tells you some important known facts about that city.
More info (Rodney Brooks talks AI)
More info (ChatGPT and Maps)
Digital Twins may be very relevant in healthcare
Digital Twins of the human body may be useful for many things, like predicting the health status of a person over the years, evaluating the potential effects of a medicine before it gets taken, predicting illnesses, and so on. They could be able to save many lives. The problem is that constructing the digital twin of a real person is very difficult because the body is a complex machine we still don’t know entirely well.
Fanatical is offering a bundle for Meta Quest
Fanatical’s “Build Your Own Quest VR” Bundle lets you create your own bundle choosing between 24 very popular Quest games. You can select 4 games for $40, or make bigger bundles paying more money.
Some content announcements
HUMANITY has launched on PSVR 2 and PC VR
Rube Goldberg Workshop lets you create very special contraptions for the small price of $10 on the Meta Quest Store
JoyWay’s new game Dead Hook has been postponed to June 29 due to “important business reasons”
5v5 multiplayer shooter X8 has launched in Early Access
No More Rainbows is going to be launched for Meta Quest 2 on June 1
Horror Bar VR, a crazy zombie bar simulator, is launching “towards the end of the first half of 2023”, which I think just means “end of June” but with many extra steps.
More info (HUMANITY)
More info (Rube Goldberg Workshop)
More info (Dead Hook)
More info (X8)
More info (No More Rainbows)
More info (Horror Bar VR)
Some content reviews
Road To VR went hands-on with Firmament and found it visually intriguing, but sometimes frustrating, and then not build-up specifically for VR
Upload VR went hands-on with the new multiplayer mode of Puzzling Places and found it great and very natural to be used
Upload VR has tried HUMANITY in VR and loved the quality of this game, from the graphics to the complexity of the enigmas
More info (Firmament)
More info (Puzzling Places)
More info (HUMANITY)
Pico 4 has just updated its runtime and now has a feature that is amazing for demoing VR to people
Quest updated its runtime, too, and added custom skyboxes to the home environment
Sony is going to announce big games for PSVR 2 at the upcoming PlayStation Showcase
The CEO of Bigscreen has made a very informative teardown of his Beyond headset
Jaroslav Beck has exited from Beat Games. Good luck to him for his future!
ARCore now has scene semantics and can distinguish the various elements of the scene around you
This research created a flexible and transparent augmented reality display
News from partners (and friends)
Donate to the parts of Italy affected by the flood
You can donate money to fund the recovery of the regions affected by the terrible flood in Emilia Romagna (Italy), using the following bank coordinates:
Recipient: AGENZIA REGIONALE SIC.T. PROTEZIONE CIVILE EMILIA ROMAGNA
Reason: ALLUVIONE EMILIA-ROMAGNA
Bic Swift Code: UNCRITM1OM0
The situation there is pretty bad, and every help, even small, matters. I’m donating myself, and I hope this money can really help those people that have lost everything from one day to the other in having a better future.
Some XR fun
I think Mark is feeling a strange presence behind him these days…
I didn’t know I wanted Borat in Resident Evil 4 VR, but after I’ve seen it, I understood it was exactly what I needed!
The wrong way to keep yourself informed about AI…
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
Reynaldo T Zabala
Terry xR. Schussler
Nikk Mitchell and the great FXG team
Wisear (Yacine Achiakh)
Julio Cesar Bolivar
Marco “BeyondTheCastle” Arena
Ristband (Anne McKinnon & Roman Rappak)
Liam James O’Malley
And now here you are the link to donate:
Support The Red Cross in Ukraine
(Header image by Netvios)
The post The XR Week Peek (2023.05.23): Leaks and rumors about Apple headset intensify, VRChat to launch Creator Economy, and more! appeared first on The Ghost Howls.