Reviews Are in for Meta Quest Pro, Quest 3 to Arrive in 2023

The Meta Quest Pro is making its way to reviewers, who say that the pricey $1,500 mixed reality headset from Meta Platforms will be out of reach for most consumers but could be a natural upgrade to business users who want to upgrade from the Quest 2. Offering augmented reality in color and avatars with nuanced facial expressions, the Quest Pro is a productivity tool “ideal for builders, architects, engineers, designers, and others” who want to create or work in immersive environments. For everyone else, a consumer-priced Meta Quest 3 will be arriving in late 2023. Continue reading Reviews Are in for Meta Quest Pro, Quest 3 to Arrive in 2023

Meta’s ‘Horizon Worlds’ Is Struggling to Attract New VR Users

There’s trouble in virtual paradise, according to The Wall Street Journal, which says internal Meta Platforms documents show that its initial goal of 500,000 monthly active “Horizon Worlds” users by the end of 2022 has been revised to 280,000, which is over 80,000 more than it currently has. Meanwhile, Forbes says the debut of avatar “legs” demoed by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg at last week’s Meta Connect was actually “staged” using motion capture. However, a Meta spokesman explains that the company’s metaverse efforts were always expected to be a multiyear project, with ongoing improvements based on user feedback. Continue reading Meta’s ‘Horizon Worlds’ Is Struggling to Attract New VR Users

AR/VR Meta Quest Pro Targets Productivity Sector for $1,500

Meta Platforms unveiled its anticipated mixed reality headset yesterday at Meta Connect. The $1,500 Quest Pro, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced as “the first in our new line of advanced headsets,” becomes the first full-color AR/VR device to hit the U.S. market on October 25. Although Meta is positioning the Quest Pro as a productivity device, the thrust was that app makers will be encouraged to develop for it. Meta also announced that NBCUniversal content and Microsoft Office, Windows, Teams and Xbox Cloud Gaming are coming to Meta Quest headsets. Continue reading AR/VR Meta Quest Pro Targets Productivity Sector for $1,500

Roblox Targets Advertisers, Diverse Users with New Features

As it seeks to build-out a metaverse, online game platform and game creation system Roblox is courting brands as well as older users (54 percent of the platform’s daily active users are said to be age 12 and below). The popular gaming platform is adding facial capture for users and offering advertisers digital billboards and links to branded destinations. Roblox has been trying to divide its users by age, and added authentication for those 13 and above last September for access to more adult content. As part of the content diversification critical to both initiatives, Roblox is increasing its Game Fund to $35 million. Continue reading Roblox Targets Advertisers, Diverse Users with New Features

Zuckerberg Says New Meta VR Headset Launching in October

Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed that Meta Platforms will in October debut the mixed reality headset the company has been developing under the codename Project Cambria. Appearing on Spotify’s “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast last week, Zuckerberg said the new headset will have outward facing cameras capable of porting the outside world into the VR experience. With improved facial tracking to transpose smiles and frowns and the ability to convey “actual eye contact” between avatars, Zuckerberg said the new device will enhance the experience of “social presence.” Continue reading Zuckerberg Says New Meta VR Headset Launching in October

‘Fortnite’ Metaverse Build-Out Gets iHeartLand Music Venue

Epic Games is getting another major venue in its “Fortnite” metaverse with an iHeartMedia digital headquarters. The complex, iHeartLand, includes a main stage, recording studio and game park. An interesting example of how virtual reality is mapping IRL commercially, the concert venue struck a naming rights deal with insurance company State Farm. In addition to avatar concerts, State Farm Park features a large screen that can display 2D performances, the format chosen by inaugural guest Charlie Puth for his September 9 show. Continue reading ‘Fortnite’ Metaverse Build-Out Gets iHeartLand Music Venue

Industry Leaders Discuss Virtual Beings at ETC Town Square

Five industry experts were invited to give 25-minute presentations over Zoom to the ETC@USC membership last week on the theme of virtual beings. Discussions addressed creating a more emotive and relatable personality and improving the image, sound and body language of virtual characters. The presenters were chosen because of their efforts to bring a new dimension to related discussions taking place within ETC’s member companies. The talks were recorded and posted on ETCentric in support of ETC’s mission of sharing information and educating the industry. Continue reading Industry Leaders Discuss Virtual Beings at ETC Town Square

VTubers are Latest Creators Earning on YouTube and Twitch

VTubers are Japan’s latest export, with dozens of the virtual online stars claiming millions of fans and becoming a new breed of influencer, raking in hefty sums on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch. Tokyo-based Hololive Production kicked off the creator trend, which centers on animated personas that stream using motion-capture or AR face-tracking. Complete with their own mythos and origin stories, the characters amass large followings. As of April, Hololive represented more than 65 VTubers, the most popular in English, Gawr Gura, has more than 4 million YouTube subscribers. Now UTA has signed VTubers Shxtou and Baoo for representation. Continue reading VTubers are Latest Creators Earning on YouTube and Twitch

Meta Plans Hiring Cuts as It Gears Up for ‘Fierce Headwinds’

Meta Platforms is preparing for a steep economic downturn that CEO Mark Zuckerberg is trying to get in front of by cutting costs and refocusing priorities. Engineering hires will be cut by 30 percent this year, with fewer than 7,000 additions as opposed to the original target of 10,000. The pivot comes at a time when Meta is seeking to expand on several fronts. The company reportedly needs to increase by fivefold the computing power of its data centers in order to accommodate the artificial intelligence technology that will be necessary to support its new “discovery” push.  Continue reading Meta Plans Hiring Cuts as It Gears Up for ‘Fierce Headwinds’

Roblox: User-Generated Content Competes with Pro Games

Online game world Roblox draws about 50 million daily active users worldwide. Launched in 2006, the company lets users create their own games and play games created by others. As such, a generation has grown up using the Roblox Studio game engine, and now some of those Millennials are competing with professionally trained coders for jobs designing for the platform, which runs on the beginner programming language Lua. Designed for use in embedded applications, Lua is cross platform, and the Roblox API allows it to be played on anything from an Xbox to a PC, laptop or Android or iOS phone. Continue reading Roblox: User-Generated Content Competes with Pro Games

Bored Ape Yacht Club Creator Yuga Labs Raises $450 Million

Yuga Labs, creator of the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs, has raised $450 million in a seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz, which has been bullish on crypto and Web3, investing in blockchain firm Solana Labs, game developer Sky Mavis and NFT marketplace OpenSea. Yuga has been busy, too, acquiring Larva Labs’ CryptoPunks collection of uniquely generated characters and Meebits library of collectible 3D characters. Collectively, Bored Apes and CryptoPunks are estimated to be worth about $3.6 billion at current prices. The funding round — which includes investments by Samsung and Google Ventures — gives Yuga what it says is a $4 billion valuation. Continue reading Bored Ape Yacht Club Creator Yuga Labs Raises $450 Million

Bob Iger’s Act 2: Into the Metaverse with Avatar Firm Genies

Los Angeles-based avatar technology firm Genies Inc. has secured Bob Iger as an investor and board member, a coup for the five-year-old startup, which crafts celebrity avatars and also allows people to create their own avatars, fashion, worlds and experiences. The move into the metaverse is Iger’s first entertainment play since exiting Disney in December after 15 years as CEO. Genies says Iger will help “navigate its mission to empower humans to create their own avatar ecosystems” in Web3 — including avatars, fashion lines, immersive experiences and virtual worlds.  Continue reading Bob Iger’s Act 2: Into the Metaverse with Avatar Firm Genies

HTC Adds Vive Guardian to Protect Kids in Volatile Metaverse

Taiwanese electronics company HTC has introduced a new Vive Guardian feature for its popular VR headset, the HTC Vive. The safeguard is designed to limit access to apps while children are cavorting in the metaverse, and experts say it’s a much needed step in an environment that thus far lacks kid profiles and parental safety settings. HTC, Meta Platforms and others suggest VR be used only by those over the age of 13, but at this point, it’s only a recommendation, and calls are already amplifying to put child safety measures in place. Continue reading HTC Adds Vive Guardian to Protect Kids in Volatile Metaverse

Meta Hypes Numerous Benefits of Metaverse for Advertising

Meta Platforms’ Vishal Shah told attendees of the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual leadership meeting that the brave new virtual world his company is conjuring will offer vast opportunities for marketing and promotion without the physical constraints of real estate leases, supply chain snags and geographic inconvenience. Appearing virtually, Shah revved the engines at “The Road to the Metaverse” tour, promising brands an exciting ride, albeit one that may take 10 years to hit cruising speed. Meta is stepping on the gas to get there, investing $11 billion in its Reality Labs VR unit last year.  Continue reading Meta Hypes Numerous Benefits of Metaverse for Advertising

Meta’s VR Evolution Includes New Cross-Platform 3D Avatars

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been busy reinventing his company since the October announcement that the parent entity would name-change to Meta Platforms, where Zuckerberg remains chairman and CEO. Traditional social media engineers and support staff workers at the company, which turns 18 this month, are being urged by managers to reapply for new positions that involve responsibilities in augmented reality and virtual reality, according to reports that say Meta is actively recruiting from tech giants such as Microsoft and Apple to fill thousands of new jobs in hardware and software. Continue reading Meta’s VR Evolution Includes New Cross-Platform 3D Avatars