It’s not yet clear how the new round of layoffs at Meta will affect its transition division, Reality Labs. As AI climbs the hype cycle and the Metaverse predictably falls into a valley of disappointment, the company is clearly rearranging its priorities. As you can see from our special Meta section below, schadenfreude rains down on them. Do you think Mark has learned his lesson about technologies that are a decade away?
Adept AI Is A Unicorn. The startup, founded by former Google engineers, announced that it has raised $350 million to use artificial intelligence to develop business applications. The funding comes less than a year after it raised $65 million. The Series B round was led by General Catalyst and Spark Capital. While their valuation was not officially announced, the scale of the investment suggests that Adept AI is already worth over a billion dollars. This must be a very good AI.
Tilia Raises $22M to Manage Payments for Digital Economies. The company, which is owned by Linden Research, also named Brad Oberwager, previously executive chairman, as chief executive officer and Catherine Porter as the company’s first chief operating officer. The funding comes from Seoul, South Korea-based fintech leader Dunamu, which joins existing investor JP Morgan Payments. In 2021, Oberwager acquired Linden Lab, the company behind the “Second Life” metaverse. In October, Linden announced that it had partnered with JP Morgan Payments to develop Tilia.
SXSW XR Award Winners. Consensus Gentium from writer-director Karen Palmer won the top prize, even though it’s not technically an XR experience. The story takes place on your smartphone and uses face tracking. They introduce you as a dissident who has avoided the government’s tracking app, but needs to download it to travel to take care of her mother. There were a few moments when I thought the messages I was reading on my smartphone were my own, an experience completely unique to this new medium. A special jury prize was awarded to Body Mine by Cameron Kostopoulos, which enables a man to inhabit a woman’s body, making a profound case for VR as an empathy machine.
Google Sunsets Glass 2.0. In what is nothing but good news for other AR device vendors, Google announced this week that as of September 15, it will no longer sell or upgrade the HMD. Glass now joins Google’s graveyard of very early XR projects like Daydream, Tilt Brush, and Poly. Google may not be done with Glasses yet. Just this fill they showed that the technology from North’s acquisition showed a dioptric transparent waveguide that can do everything Glass does – and much more. Glass is still used by hundreds of companies to support storage, manufacturing and remote support.
Apple’s AR/VR headset reportedly being withdrawn due to ‘huge pressure to ship’ Mixed reality headsets seem a given for a 2023 launch, but is Apple and the industry ready? There have been a bunch of articles this week about Tim Cook insisting on starting in June over the objections of his engineers. So many tech experts have weighed in, we’ve created a dedicated section below and given it a clever name: Bobbing for Apple. The Apple Watch took a while to catch on, but it didn’t have the inflated expectations associated with the XR, and the devices aren’t nearly as expensive.
Yuga Labs’ Otherside Metaverse will launch ‘Second Trip’ on March 25th. Daniel Alegre, CEO of Yuga Labs, which runs the Bored Ape Yacht Club, which is spending over $300 million to create the Massively Multiplayer Otherside. This second test of the massively multiplayer metaverse will take place on March 25th in the form of a guided experience that will be shared simultaneously with 10,000 unique users at once. The captains of each other’s team. “Second Trip” is open to owners of virtual land NFTs that represent land not yet created in the yet-to-be-released Otherside metauniverse. Non-holders can also watch a live stream of the event on the company’s YouTube channel. I put it in my diary.
Mighty Coconut’s Walkabout Mini Golf Announces Meow Wolf Partnership and Mobile App. As SXSW kicked off last Friday, he revealed a creative collaboration with Meow Wolf for a new course coming in Q3. the Walkabout Mini-Golf Pocket Edition, an AR mini-golf game for iOS, coming this summer; and promotions to bring the title to hundreds of arcades in the location-based entertainment industry.
Metavrse Mall welcomes the Juicyverse of Mars, the home of Starburst candy in the Metaverse. TheMall and STARBURST® have teamed up to announce the launch of their newest virtual world, Starburst Juicyverse, in partnership with MetaVRse and BambuMeta® Web3 Loyalty. The fully immersive virtual world premieres at SXSW 2023 at TheMall, the world’s largest virtual mall.
This week on XR is also a podcast hosted by the author of this column, Ted Schilowitz, Futurist, Paramount Global, and Rony Abovitz, founder of Magic Leap. This week our guests are Karen Palmer, producer and director of the smartphone film ‘Consensus Gentium’ which won first place for XR Experiences at SXSW, Cameron Kostinopulous, whose VR experience ‘Body of Mine’ won the special award of Jury XR and Roman Rappak, whose Miro Shot performed a sold out mixed reality concert in Austin. We can be found on Spotify, iTunes and YouTube.
What We Read
Psychedelics meet virtual reality at South by Southwest (Tiffany Carey/Bloomberg)
This week on Schadenfreude
Mark Zuckerberg is ending the Tech Party (/The road)
Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitions are shrinking (Kali Hays/Insider)
Mark Zuckerberg is suddenly strangely quiet about the Metaverse (Mary Harrison/Futurism)
Bob for Apple
From iPhone 15 to an AR/VR headset: Apple products expected in 2023 (Lisa Eadicicco/CNet)
Mixed Reality Distortion Field: Is Tim Cook’s Legacy Doomed? (Macworld)
Tim Cook is betting on Apple’s mixed reality headset to secure his legacy (Patrick McGee and Tim Bradshaw/Financial Times)