Walmart Begins Metaverse Build-Out on the Roblox Platform

Walmart has planted its flag in the metaverse, launching Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play on Roblox, a virtual worlds game platform that emphasizes user-generated content. Roblox community members can check out the Walmart “isles” to collect “verch,” or virtual merchandise, “catch top music artists and unlock exclusive interactive content,” the company says. “Roblox is one of the fastest growing and largest platforms in the metaverse, and we know our customers are spending loads of time there,” Walmart CMO William White said, citing the platform’s 52 million daily active users. Continue reading Walmart Begins Metaverse Build-Out on the Roblox Platform

CES: VisiSonics Showcases New 3D Spatial Audio Solutions

Maryland-based VisiSonics, a 3D spatial audio company, is revealing its licensable hardware and software audio solutions at CES 2022 in Las Vegas this week, booking appointments for one-on-one product demonstrations at its Venetian Resort suite (#3310). “We’ve developed two lines of technology to capture audio with all the directions preserved,” explains chief technology officer and co-founder Adam O’Donovan. “Our 64-microphone array on a sphere to capture audio led to our RealSpace 3D sound engine that allows 3D spatial audio to be personalized.” Continue reading CES: VisiSonics Showcases New 3D Spatial Audio Solutions

Intel Says the Metaverse Needs 1,000x More Compute Power

Intel has raised a red flag regarding the metaverse, warning that more processing power is needed to support the vision. “Immersive computing, at scale and accessible by billions of humans in real time” will require a 1,000x increase in computational capability from today’s state of the art, says Intel senior vice president Raja Koduri, general manager of the company’s Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics Group. Intel remains enthusiastic about the metaverse, however, conceding in the company’s first official statement on the matter it “may be the next major platform in computing after the world wide web and mobile.” Continue reading Intel Says the Metaverse Needs 1,000x More Compute Power

Lens Fest: Snap Reveals New Augmented Reality Possibilities

During Snap’s annual Lens Fest event, the company introduced new features and upcoming changes to its Lens Studio creation suite. Snap touted updates involving the integration of outside media and data in addition to a collection of new augmented reality features intended for future glasses, including its own AR-enabled Spectacles. Creators will be able to add audio clips and licensed music to Snapchat Lenses. The company is working on delivering real-time data such as weather info from AccuWeather and cryptocurrency prices from FTX. Developers will also have the ability to embed links inside Lenses and send Snapchatters to different websites. Continue reading Lens Fest: Snap Reveals New Augmented Reality Possibilities

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

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

ByteDance Buys Startup Pico, Virtual Reality Headset Maker

TikTok parent company ByteDance has acquired startup Pico, which, according to IDC, was the third largest virtual reality headset manufacturer worldwide in Q1 2021, with shipments growing 44.7. percent year-over-year. The purchase marks ByteDance’s first step into virtual reality and the company said that Pico’s “comprehensive suite of software and hardware technologies, as well as the talent and deep expertise of the team, will support both our entry to the VR space and long-term investment in this emerging field.” Continue reading ByteDance Buys Startup Pico, Virtual Reality Headset Maker

HTC Vive Pro 2: 5K 120Hz VR for Enterprise, Serious Gamers

The recently launched HTC Vive Pro 2 VR headset offers a sharp 5K 120Hz desktop virtual reality experience. Priced at $1,399 for the entire package — and $799 for the headset alone (for those who invested previously in the Vive Pro or Valve Index) — the Vive Pro 2 retains the same design as the 2018 model and relies on older controllers but offers a wide range of attractive features for gamers. The 2,448 x 2,448 pixels per eye is a dramatic improvement over the previous Pro’s 1,440 x 1,600 pixels, which also offered a slower 90Hz refresh rate. Its LCDs also have RGB sub-pixels for increased sharpness. Continue reading HTC Vive Pro 2: 5K 120Hz VR for Enterprise, Serious Gamers

New Netflix Hire Signals the Service’s Push into Video Games

As part of its plan to expand into gaming, video streamer Netflix has hired former Electronic Arts and Facebook executive Mike Verdu as its vice president of game development. At Facebook, Verdu worked with developers to bring virtual reality games and other content to Oculus headsets. At Netflix, Verdu will report to chief operating officer Greg Peters and is mandated with bringing video games to the Netflix platform within the next year. Sources said that Netflix does not plan on charging subscribers extra for gaming content. Continue reading New Netflix Hire Signals the Service’s Push into Video Games

Cinematic and Narrative Virtual Reality Tech Moving Forward

At the Cannes Film Festival’s XR program, VeeR co-founder Jingshu Chen delivered a keynote on monetization of virtual reality, in which she referred to Gartner’s well-known Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies. She pointed out that Facebook’s 2014 acquisition of Oculus sparked the “peak of inflated expectations,” followed by a downhill path to the “trough of disillusionment” beginning in 2017, when headset sales slumped and some VR companies pulled back. Now, she said, we could be on the upward “slope of enlightenment.” Continue reading Cinematic and Narrative Virtual Reality Tech Moving Forward

Microsoft Mesh Aims to Bring VR/AR Devices, Users Together

Microsoft Mesh is a new mixed-reality platform powered by Azure that enables people in different locations to meet and collaborate as digital representations of themselves in holographic experiences across a variety of devices. To demonstrate the shared experience, Microsoft technical fellow Alex Kipman appeared at the company’s Ignite digital conference this week via holoportation, and was joined by Cirque du Soleil co-founder Guy Laliberté, filmmaker James Cameron and Niantic CEO John Hanke to discuss related initiatives. Microsoft announced two apps built on the platform — a preview version for HoloLens 2 and a new Mesh-enabled version of AltspaceVR. Continue reading Microsoft Mesh Aims to Bring VR/AR Devices, Users Together

Pandemic Is Accelerating the Adoption of Augmented Reality

The COVID-19 pandemic is driving increased demand for augmented reality at some companies, including Mercedes-Benz and L’Oréal (whose brands include Lancôme, Kiehl’s and Maybelline New York), in the last year. L’Oréal chief digital officer Lubomira Rochet stated that, “we saw the appetite, it grew and it’s our responsibility now to continue to innovate.” That company has debuted a number of AR projects for employees and customers in the last few months. One uses ModiFace AR to connect consumers with beauty advisers. Continue reading Pandemic Is Accelerating the Adoption of Augmented Reality

Tech Firms Consider Remote Work Options After Coronavirus

Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter were among the first U.S. companies to send their employees home as the coronavirus spread. Now, as they reopen their campuses, they are also allowing some of employees to continue to work from home. If that policy becomes widespread, it will be a major change from the college-like corporate campuses the companies built to encourage creativity and spontaneous interactions. Working from home will be its own perk and allow companies to broaden their search for workers. Continue reading Tech Firms Consider Remote Work Options After Coronavirus

Apple Acquires Virtual Reality Live Streaming Service NextVR

Apple has purchased NextVR, a virtual reality video service that offered 360-degree access to live events, including sporting events from NBA, WWE and NHL. With a VR headset, users could enjoy the feeling of “presence” in NextVR’s panoramic stereoscopic 3D scenes. The company also offered 2D smartphone access and planned to support augmented reality devices. The service never became popular, however, and a failed 2019 funding round followed by the coronavirus-related cancellation of sporting events left it struggling to survive. Continue reading Apple Acquires Virtual Reality Live Streaming Service NextVR

Facebook Provides Early Global Access to eSports Feature

Facebook Gaming is introducing worldwide early access to tournaments for eSports amateurs. Though the feature had been in development for some time, said Facebook Gaming head engineer Mina Abouseif, the company released it early to help people shut-in due to the coronavirus pandemic cope better with the isolation. The tournaments feature was originally designed for live gaming events, but Facebook shifted it to one that will help people stay connected to friends, family and communities via “friendly competition.” Continue reading Facebook Provides Early Global Access to eSports Feature