Coronavirus brings technology to the forefront

Bi-weekly update with the latest insights from the Metaverse: news, posts, creations and communities.

Hey hey! I hope you’re staying at home! After a month long hiatus, it’s great to be back. A massive amount of work and having to sort out my living situation for this dreadful crisis has had me way too busy. At least the rest of the metaverse hasn’t stopped, on the contrary, it’s seizing this opportunity to pick up speed.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed everyone around me getting up to speed with technology. Suddenly, everyone now gets all these applications that have been around for a while. Or they discover random features like Google Search’s AR mode. From kids to the elderly, technology has conquered further grounds in our day to day lives. Zoom’s market cap is now over all US airlines. And they went from 10M daily users to 200M in 3 months. It’s crazy. The Internet can’t keep and many services are having to throttle their downloads and streaming.

With its challenges, VR platforms are also upping their game. For example, we’ve seen blogs suggest top apps for remote work, physical events have moved to VR and many more have decided to give this VR virtual events thing a go, and then it’s proving to be a provider of freedom to our new confinement living state. Even my non-VR Twitter is tweeting frequently about how they’re using their headsets. Half Life: Alyx launching and reaching top sales on Steam is a another important push. What is disappointing is that this context that’s generating so much interest in VR coincides with none of the major headsets being available for purchase. It’s definitely affecting many impulse buys.

With that, I’ll leave you with some of the most exciting VR things I’ve found over the last few weeks. Stay home and stay safe!

On the news

  • With events cancelled in the physical world, VR events declare it’s there turn: Over the last month, many large events have been organise in VR. Most of these were intended to happen in VR from the beginning, but others like Vive’s anual conference and IEEE decided to try out VR after having to cancel their real world event. It’s a great chance for VR to prove its worth and many Social VR company are grabbing onto the opportunity. I haven’t been able to attend yet, but from what I see on my timeline, they’re being really successful. [Link]

  • Attention-based payments for WebXR sites: Mozilla and it’s Firefox Reality browser is launching an experiment supporting Coil. It works similar to Brave Browser where people pay a $5 monthly subscription, and then that money is sent, based on the time they spent on different sites, to the creators. Though we still need larger upfront payments, anything that will help reduce the importance of ad-based revenue. This is still a model that incentivizes spending as much time as possible on the Web which will trigger algorithms to prioritize extreme content. [Link]

  • Facebook buys studio behind Asgard’s Wrath: They continue to buy some of the most successful VR studios. The terms, again, haven’t been disclosed. I feel wary of seeing so many big VR efforts concentrated in a single company. It’s great to have a plurality of organizations trying out many different things in different directions. It’s still such early stages. VR is also a very powerful medium, and having a single company control so much of it is dangerous. If you’re reading this newsletter, I’m sure you’re not looking forward to a Facebook-owned metaverse. [Link]

  • Linden Lab sells Sansar: After announcing they would stop working on it, they’ve found a bidder. The buyer, Wookey Projects, seems to be a company that buys dying projects. I have my doubts that a company that’s not solely focused on the platform being able to make it successful, but let’s see. [Link]

  • +100 VR games have made $1M: Very important milestone as more and more VR developers can build profitable businesses. 7 of those have made >$10M. The software is improving, becoming more enticing, and there are more and more headset out there. Currently, it’s almost impossible to grab a headset from Oculus or Valve. [Link]

  • Native IPFS support on Opera: It’s the first browser to support a decentralized file system protocol. Opera might not be a very popular browser, but it’s still an important milestone. Other browsers like Brave and Firefox have also expressed interest. Native support allows developers to offer a better user experience with those protocols, making them more accessible. [Link]

  • 6D.ai has been bought by Niantic: The AR super company, a Google spin-off, continues to buy other promising companies in the AR space. 6D.ai is building very promising technologies to support the AR Cloud. I found them particularly interesting as their perspective seemed to come from a privacy-first point of view. They had mention before they wouldn’t sell out, so, while I’m very happy for their success, I do hope that mission will be kept at Niantic, unlike how Whatsapp was taken over at Facebook. [Link]

  • StriVR raises $30M: There aren’t big investment rounds in VR so it’s great to see companies doing big here. It generates excitement for the market, which then brings more money in which fosters innovation. StriVR is one of the largest B2B training platforms and has big partnerships with companies like Walmart. [Link]

Food for thought

  • VR isn’t ready to host an event like GDC: Liv Erikson is back on the newsletter with a great analysis on what’s left for macro events hosted in VR. It’s not just the technological aspects, but massive events with thousands of people on the Internet, where people ignore social norms and it’s hard to enforce them, is just looking for trouble. She advocated organising smaller more intimate events which I wholeheartedly agree on. [Link]

  • Crypto worlds getting searching for adoption: In the crypto community, a blog post came up also talking about the opportunity for Social VR worlds during a crisis like this. They have a sole focus on crypto platforms though. It is interesting to see a crypto person make the case for how the world is ready for VR. [Link]

Cool Creations

  • Join video calls from VR: SPACES, a VR location-based entertainment company, has built a tool that lets you jump into calls in Zoom, Hangouts and others. You get a whiteboard, your desktop and can see the faces of the others in the call. It’s an awesome idea that feels so obvious in hindsight. We still have so much creativity left to explore in VR. [Link]

  • Vircadia, another High Fidelity fork: There are multiple efforts to build on top of the amazing work done at High Fidelity. This one is maintained by volunteers instead of having a company supporting it. [Link]

  • Jumpy Balls, a WebXR game: Feiss from Mozilla has built a small game to demonstrate ECSY, an entity-component-system for the Web. It’s great to see more fun concepts on WebXR. [Link]

  • Multiuser WebXR whiteboard: Another great use case for WebXR. Easily jump into a multiuser room with colleagues with a link. [Link]


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Thanks for tuning in, that’s it for today. If you find anything interesting that we should post in the next one, reach out via Twitter or Email.

See you in 2 weeks!

Alberto

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