Meta Is Joined by Apple, Various Brands in Metaverse Pursuit

Brands have begun dabbling in the metaverse. Chipotle, Vans and Nike are among those experimenting on Roblox, a platform where users play games, while Verizon staged a stadium game in Fortnite Creative, an affiliate service of the popular Epic game. Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook is said to be encouraging brands to use Instagram’s AR filters to get acclimated to the metaverse. There are reports that Apple is preparing its own meta debut, with Taiwan-based analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicting, presumably based on his supply-chain sources, that Apple plans to unveil an AR wearable late next year. Continue reading Meta Is Joined by Apple, Various Brands in Metaverse Pursuit

The Sundance Film Festival Advances Tech for Hybrid Model

The Sundance Film Festival is returning to Park City, Utah in January after holding its last annual event entirely online. The 2022 Festival will introduce a new hybrid format that will expand The Spaceship, a virtual venue of the New Frontier exhibition where attendees can socialize and visit virtual reality and mixed reality installations. Sundance is also introducing a new Biodigital Bridge, a human-scale screen that will connect “festivalgoers in Park City and those attending The Spaceship online from anywhere in the world — establishing the Festival as a metaverse that overlays the physical event with a virtual one.” Continue reading The Sundance Film Festival Advances Tech for Hybrid Model

Meta Reality Labs Haptic Glove Aims for VR Touch Sensation

Meta’s Reality Labs division has previewed a haptic glove designed to give the user sensation of handling a real object when manipulating things that only exist digitally in virtual space. Reality Labs, a division of Facebook prior to that company’s renaming as Meta Platforms, has spent seven years working on a haptic glove prototype, now rolled into Meta’s announced 2021 spending of $10 billion to develop hardware, software and apps for the metaverse — an AR/VR fused world conjured through digital sight, sound and touch. Companies including HaptX, Hi5, Manus and SenseGlove have also demonstrated haptic gloves, an increasingly competitive field. Continue reading Meta Reality Labs Haptic Glove Aims for VR Touch Sensation

Meta Building a Safe Metaverse While Expanding VR Holdings

Social media platforms, which have had challenges maintaining a safe, socially conscious online environment — as the year’s spate of whistleblower disclosures and global regulatory hearings proves — may face an even tougher time maintaining civility in the metaverse. The shift from monitoring text, images and video to supervising a live 3D world will be orders of magnitude more complicated, observers say. According to a 2020 safety video for “Horizon Worlds,” a game Facebook developed for its virtual reality platform Oculus Quest, the company plans to record what happens in the metaverse, storing data that transpires in users’ VR headsets. Continue reading Meta Building a Safe Metaverse While Expanding VR Holdings

Unity to Acquire Tech Division of Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital

Unity has agreed to acquire the technology division of filmmaker Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital for a price reported at $1.625 billion. The San Francisco-based creator of the popular 3D game platform says the Academy Award-winning VFX firm will “continue as a standalone entity” renamed WetaFX, which Unity predicts will become its largest customer in the media and entertainment space, delivering tools Unity says will “unlock the full potential of the metaverse.” Weta and Unity have already been deeply involved over the years, collaborating on a host of tools used for films, games and immersive experiences. Continue reading Unity to Acquire Tech Division of Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital

Nvidia Goes Full-Stack, Touts Artificial Intelligence and Cloud

Nvidia is mapping out a customer service future populated with real-time avatars who use natural-language AI with real-world customers. The company, which has seemingly transformed from graphics powerhouse to AI authority (in just under 28 years since being founded by Jensen Huang, company CEO) used this week’s GTC conference to emphasize full-stack computing. The speed and flexibility of the company’s three GPU chips offer general purpose enterprise potential, thanks to Nvidia’s parallel-processing platform, CUDA. Huang backed this assertion with a slide indicating Nvidia has deployed more than 150 SDKs to industries generating $1 trillion. Continue reading Nvidia Goes Full-Stack, Touts Artificial Intelligence and Cloud

Niantic Releases Lightship Tools for a ‘Real-World’ Metaverse

Niantic, the San Francisco tech firm best known for publishing the wildly successful mobile AR app “Pokémon Go,” is opening a version of its platform to the world with the release of the Lightship augmented reality developer kit, designed to enable AR experiences for “the real-world metaverse.” Niantic CEO John Hanke, who led Google’s geospatial division through the transformation of Google Maps and Google Earth, says Lightship will incorporate a “visual positioning system” that interoperates with glasses to place objects in the real world. In March, Hanke teased an image of Niantic-branded glasses created by Qualcomm. Continue reading Niantic Releases Lightship Tools for a ‘Real-World’ Metaverse

Corporate Migration to Metaverse Not Waiting for Zuckerberg

The metaverse, a virtual world where people embody avatars and live their lives online, was largely the purview of gamers and sci-fi movie fans until Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made it part of the everyday lexicon, prompting a media assessment of how the metaverse is accessible now. Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled a new Mesh app for augmented reality and virtual reality experiences using various goggles, including its own HoloLens. E-commerce platform Shopify has launched a browser-based game, “Shopify Party,” that lets employees appear as avatars for team events. Other companies are also considering a future in the metaverse. Continue reading Corporate Migration to Metaverse Not Waiting for Zuckerberg

Meta: Facebook Blasts Off for the Metaverse with New Name

Mark Zuckerberg, who co-founded Facebook in 2004 and is now its CEO and controlling shareholder, announced that the company has changed its name to Meta Platforms Inc. (doing business as Meta), reflecting its pursuit of growth opportunities in the VR and AR realms known as the metaverse. As of December 1, the company will trade as MVRS on the Nasdaq exchange, retiring the FB ticker symbol that took a long ride from a first-day close of $38.23 per share on May 18, 2012, to close at $316 on October 28, the day Zuckerberg announced the new name at the Facebook Connect developer’s conference. Continue reading Meta: Facebook Blasts Off for the Metaverse with New Name

USC Students Compete in Second ETC Metaverse Challenge

University of Southern California students were invited to participate in the second of two scheduled Metaverse Experience Challenges, hosted by ETC@USC. Making use of current and emerging tools, students were tasked with developing original ideas for compelling metaverse experiences. Ten teams started work at 1:00 pm on Friday, October 8 and presented their ideas to judges from Epic Games, Universal Pictures, Disney Studios, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud at 3:00 pm on Saturday, October 9. Each member of the winning teams — MetaversEdu and MetaMall — received a Nintendo Switch “Fortnite” Edition, courtesy of Epic Games. Continue reading USC Students Compete in Second ETC Metaverse Challenge

ETC Launches First of Two Metaverse Experience Challenges

University of Southern California students were invited to participate in the first of two scheduled Metaverse Experience Challenges, hosted by ETC@USC. Making use of current and emerging tools, students were tasked with developing original ideas for compelling metaverse experiences. Six teams of randomly-grouped students started work at 1:00 pm on Friday, October 1 and presented their ideas to judges from Epic Games, Universal Pictures and Disney Research at 3:00 pm on Saturday, October 2. Each member of the winning teams — Meetaverse and Virtual Vinyl — received a Nintendo Switch “Fortnite” Edition, courtesy of Epic Games. Continue reading ETC Launches First of Two Metaverse Experience Challenges

Facebook and Ray-Ban Team Up on Next-Gen Smart Glasses

Facebook and Luxottica Group’s luxury sunglass manufacturer Ray-Ban unveiled new smart glasses that enable the user to record via cameras hidden in the frame. The Ray-Ban glasses — priced at $299 — are based on the classic Wayfarer model, with the addition of a very small recording light, two 5-megapixel cameras, three microphones and four gigabytes of storage. The glasses, which will come in 20 style combinations and either clear or prescription lenses, are powered by Facebook technology. Both Facebook and Ray-Ban parent Luxottica stated that, “privacy is built into the product.” Continue reading Facebook and Ray-Ban Team Up on Next-Gen Smart Glasses

‘Vans World’ Opens Shop in the Metaverse via Gamer Roblox

Lifestyle apparel firm Vans has teamed with Roblox to bring skateboard destination “Vans World” to the online gamer’s vast audience. The creator of iconic footwear for boarders of all stripes is the latest brand to plant its flag in the metaverse, where kids are spending increasingly large chunks of time. Sony Music Entertainment, Gucci, BMG, Warner Bros. Pictures, Hasbro and Nike are among the firms that have partnered with Roblox, a global social platform with its own currency that in Q2 reported more than 42 million daily users who create and share immersive 3D experiences. Continue reading ‘Vans World’ Opens Shop in the Metaverse via Gamer Roblox

HiDef and Unity Pursue Social Impact and Diversity in Games

Game studio HiDef has teamed up with San Francisco-based software developer Unity Technologies to work on a games-as-a-service project that focuses on games that “connect and entertain people through creative expression, competition, shared experiences, and cultural discovery.” The San Diego-based HiDef, founded by Anthony Castoro, Jace Hall, Rick Fox and David Washington in 2019, recently raised $9 million. HiDef said the first title is a metaverse mobile game using the Unity game engine, created in concert with Unity’s gaming services team. Continue reading HiDef and Unity Pursue Social Impact and Diversity in Games

Facebook Steps into Workplace VR with Horizon Workrooms

During the COVID-19 pandemic, IDC reported that Facebook sold more Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets than before. Now Facebook offers Quest 2 owners Horizon Workrooms, a free VR service that offers virtual meeting rooms. Users can participate with a customized cartoon avatar and the room offers virtual white boards for drawing and writing, a step towards what chief executive Mark Zuckerberg dubs the “mixed-reality future” for its 3.5 billion users. Zuckerberg introduced Workrooms in VR with employees and reporters in attendance. Continue reading Facebook Steps into Workplace VR with Horizon Workrooms