Assisted reality headsets are essentially Android smartphones with a portable micro display, keeping workers’ hands free and their eyes on the task. It’s not the kind of thing you would wear in public. Even the most advanced assisted reality headsets are still a bit bulky, but they make your cell phone screen appear like a 140-200 inch monitor. As we noted in our coverage of CES 2023, a number of these screen extenders are coming to consumers this year. Three of the most promising products, the Nreal Air AR glasses, the Rokid Max and TCL’s NXTWEAR are already here. These first iterations are going to improve a lot, and quickly. I know TCL has a sleeker model on the way later this year.
The drama fabricated around the launch of Apple’s XR glasses at its annual developer conference (WWDC) on June 5 becomes like CNN commentators recounting the Trump motorcade movement. I’ve put all of these stories down in their own section, “Bobbing for Apples”, which sounds awfully unsanitary when you say it today.
Mojo Vision raises $22.4 million by turning to micro-LEDs. The company backed away from its original ambition to manufacture AR contact lenses in January, laying off 75% of its staff. With the $22 million, a new CEO, Nikhil Balram, and a new plan: to market the tiny micro-LED Mojo developed. Existing investors NEA and Khosla Ventures led the round, with participation from Dolby Family Ventures, Liberty Global Ventures, Fusion Fund, Drew Perkins, Open Field Capital and Edge.
AR display tech startup OQmented closes $20M Series A funding led by Sharp. The German company said it was a strategic investment by Sharp Devices Europe. As one of the world’s leading electronic display manufacturers, Sharp is able to market sophisticated OQmented technology, which uses MEMS mirrors, proprietary electronics and software to power the AR glasses. Existing investors Salvia, Vsquared Ventures also participated. Yes, I also had to search for MEMS.
Psychic VR Lab Co, Creator of XR STYLY Metaverse Platform Announces New $3.7M Funding Round, bringing the company’s total financing to $19.7 million. Psychic VR Lab is developing the real-world metaverse platform STYLY which uses 3D geomap data of cities as digital twins on which XR content can be distributed and found locally. The company has developed maps for parts of Tokyo (Shibuya, Shinjuku, Kumamoto, Niigata, Tsukuba), New York’s Times Square, Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, and other urban spaces around the world. by J. CVC (GP) fund, along with Front Retailing, Nippon Steel Kowa Real Estate Co., TV Asahi Holdings, JR West Japan Innovations., Tokyu Fudosan Holdings, and SBI Investment Co..
‘VRChat’ now in development for Android and iOS devices. The popular social virtual reality platform had to watch and take notes as rival Rec Room transitioned to game consoles, then mobile, en route to a billion-dollar valuation and one million users . After its $80 million Series D round in fall 2021, VR Chat’s valuation was $1.25 billion.
Zappar’s accessible QR code makes packaging talk to the blind. The enhanced QR code uses a small print variation to make codes readable from 15 feet away and enable a voice description of the product. Unilever currently only has it on two packages, but is working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to start a movement towards the new QR codes.
“Eat Sleep VR Repeat” by Fatboy Slim, a breathtaking musical journey. Here’s the full review of the experience we promised last week. ENGAGE has created this original VR gig with revered DJ and musician Fatboy Slim (Norman Cook) to showcase the capabilities of their new next-gen ENGAGE LINK, which will power their educational and business metaverse. There have only been a few screenings of this event, and there are no plans for more, at least at this time.
Tommy Hilfiger lets shoppers try on augmented reality clothes with Zero10, which has helped the fashion brand bring augmented reality fitting experiences to its stores in London, Milan and Berlin. People around the world will also be able to try out the digital collection in AR via the Zero10 mobile app, which is available for free download on iOS devices. Zero10’s AR Mirror technology allows shoppers to virtually try on clothes, using 3D body tracking, multi-class segmentation and fabric simulation to enhance realism.
Sony Electronics presents the next generation of spatial reality display The $5,000 display is after the nascent space display market now dominated by Leia and LookingGlass. Available the new month, the display will be showcased at Sony’s booth at NAB in Las Vegas, starting April 15.
US teens aren’t enthusiastic about virtual reality, with only 4% using it daily. While 29% of teens surveyed owned a VR device — compared to 87% who own iPhones — only 4% of headset owners used them daily, the investment firm found, and 14% used them weekly. “To us, lukewarm usage demonstrates that virtual reality is still in its infancy and that these devices are less important than smartphones,” Piper Sandler analysts wrote.
Yesterday, NuEyes introduced its next generation of smart glasses, NuLoupes, for the medical and dental market. NuLoupes provide variable digital magnification, 3D stereoscopic imaging and broadcasting, depth perception and object recognition. Their goal is to take the magnifying glasses that clinicians currently use and make them much better.
Metaverse Fashion Week had big brands but few people. The event has long been the subject of hype and content from some of fashion’s biggest brands, clearly in the grip of consultants encouraging customers to imagine the avatar shop of their design. Unfortunately, according to The Verge’s Jay Peters, it was boring and no one was there.
Proputt Golf + sunsets. The popular golf sim, now an Official VR Golf Partner of the PGA, is saying goodbye to its popular mini-golf variant, the superbly designed Proputt, which launched its VR golf empire. The end of their partnership with TopGolf and Quest 1 compatibility. CEO Ryan Engle told me it was too much work for not enough benefit for Proputt to continue. As popular as Proputt is, people want the full sports simulation. In fall 2022, Golf+ added professional golfers Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth as investors alongside Tom Brady, Steph Curry and Mike Trout.
This Week in XR is also a podcast hosted by this column’s author, Ted Schilowitz, Futurist, Paramount Global, and Rony Abovitz, Founder of Magic Leap. Our guests this week are Weili Dai and James Kaplan, President and CEO of MeetKai. We can be found on Spotify, iTunes and YouTube.
What we read
Building a Great Customer Experience in the Metaverse (Mark Purdy/Harvard Business Review)
This week at Schadenfreude
Meta Quest Pro, Six Months Later: Stuck between Quest 2 and Quest 3 (Scott Stein/CNET)
Tim Cook’s Apple arrives for Zuckerberg’s Metaverse (Daniel Howley/YahooNews)
Meta, Microsoft and Disney reverse their metaverse bets (Faustin Ngila/Quartz)
Bobbing for apples
Tim Cook on Shaping the Future of Apple (Zack Baron/GQ)
Apple could jump into VR at the worst possible time (Jay Peters/The Edge)
Apple Smart Goggle could be the thunderbolt XR needs (Asia Martin/Yahoo News)
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces Hyping XR ahead of WWDC (Ben Lang/RoadtoVR)
Will Apple showcase an AR/VR headset at WWDC? Delays add ‘uncertainty’, analyst says (Meara Isenberg/CNet)
Report: Apple Mixed Reality Headset Delayed to Late 2023 Due to Diminishing Confidence in Market Appeal (Scott Hayden/RoadtoVR)