Week six of captivity. The XR worlds seems to be speeding up as the physical world grinds to a halt. Digital games spending reached a record $ 10.0B in March according to SuperData. Twitch viewership of VRChat has also skyrocketed, reaching beyond the previous peak in 2018 when VRChat went viral. Travis Scott‘s ten minute ‘Astronomical’ show in Fortnite debuted with 12.1 million avatars on Thursday, the biggest virtual concert yet. There are three shows left, but you can also watch it on YouTube. Feels like you’re looking at the future of show business.
Lest the world fully succumb to the superficial charm of Zoom, Google, Facebook, and Micrsoft are coming to get their users back. Today Facebook launched its set of competitive streaming. They’re attractive, too, and available at the Internet’s favorite price.
Snap had good news, too. The company reported a 44% revenue increase and 39 million new users in the first quarter of 2020. The company cautioned revenues from advertising will fall dramatically as the recession takes hold. (The Information).
Admidst all this good news, following through on its pivot to enterprise ninety days ago, and rumors of an impending sale, Magic Leap laid off 1,000 employees, about half the company. CEO Rony Abovitz explains the move on the company blog.
Digilens receives additional funding from Samsung Ventures. Samsung Ventures previously invested during Digilens’s $ 50 million Series C round in May 2019 and is now increasing their investment through a convertible debt instrument. The amount has not been disclosed but will be used to further development of waveguide technology for wearable AR displays.
FORM closes $ 12 Million Series A round for AR swimming goggles. FORM’s AR swimming goggles provide heads up information for swimmers. From time, to lap count, to health tracking data swimmers with a pair of FORM goggles synced to their smartphone have access to real time data about their swim.
XRHealth raises $ 7 Million to expand telehealth platform. XRHealth allows physicians to monitor patient conditions remotely, and for patients to receive treatment and therapy remotely alongside a support group built from others in similar conditions. The financial raise comes at a time when telehealth and tele-everything is on the rise.
Mozilla announces upcoming “Hubs Cloud” to allow decentralized, and open source, hosting of WebXR based Hubs. Mozilla Hubs is a WebXR based device agnostic virtual space where users can gather as avatars, chat via voice and text, and share media both 2D and 3D. All you need is a link to a Hub and your browser does the rest of work for you. Hubs Cloud is Mozilla’s effort to make Hubs open source and decentralized, meaning anyone can soon host a Hub of their own, and change it to their liking.
Librestream and Vuzix partnering to launch telehealth kits for doctors during the COVID-19 crisis. The kit will utilize the Vuzix M-400 to overlay instructions from remote doctors to nurses working on the front line. A doctor can walk a nurse through placing a patient on a ventilator while making marks in real time for the nurse to follow.
8th Wall introduces Inline AR for embedding AR into websites. Using Inline AR, websites can have AR enabled iFrames, meaning users can see AR content without leaving the webpage. A shopping page could have AR enabled in the image for the item itself, for example.
SPACES creates app for VR users to join Zoom calls. SPACES has been building VR content for VR arcades since 2015, but with the recent COVID-19 lockdown VR arcades are closed. The company has been pivoting to stay afloat by creating a way for VR users to join video conference calls as their VR avatars.
FundamentalVR partners with Imperial College London to launch training app for medical professionals working with COVID-19 patients and ventilators. The training tool walks medical professionals through everything they need to know for ventilating patients in 30 minutes.
Circuit Stream will be teaching the 25th cohort of it’s XR Development with Unity Course on May 25th, 2020. Circuit Stream is the longest running VR and AR learning platform in the industry. If you’re interested in getting started in XR, check out Circuit Stream’s Intro Workshops.
Verizon partners with TechSee to provide service via virtual contact. Verizon technicians can now share troubleshooting instructions with users through smartphone video. Verizon users can point their camera at hardware such as a modem and a remote professional can walk them through troubleshooting steps without needing to set foot inside their home.
VRX’s XR-Immersive Enterprise conference on May 5-8th is completely free of charge this year. The exclusive gathering brings innovation executives from big companies together to compare notes and network with vendors.
AWE offers free tickets for those who lost work due to the pandemic. Anyone who is looking for work in the XR industry and has been recently laid off can apply for a free all-access pass to AWE by visiting the AWE website.
What we’re reading:
Here Come The Zoom Start Ups (The Information).
“This Week in XR” is written and edited with Michael Eichenseer.