CES is all about the form factor

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

Hey hey hey! I hope you had a great time with friends and family over the holidays :D.

Being not just the start of a new year, but also a new decade (though the folks behind the Spanish language insist on the decade starting in 2021), the XR community is full of predictions of where we’ll be in 10 years. Some even believe we’ll have AR contact lenses by then. But yeah, maybe not.

I do believe VR will be an accepted technology in our everyday life even if it’s not in everyone’s home, and AR will start to become a possible mass-market platform. We’re not even able to build a magic AR headset today:

I do feel confident that VR headsets will continue to get better very very quickly and the Quest is a great starting point. The main thing left is for software to catch up and give people compelling reasons to integrate VR in their lifestyle. A year ago I wrote a blog post about headsets needing to reduce friction to then reduce how critical the applications need to be in our lives. I think each year we’ll see noticeable reductions in friction and innovative interactions that will bring VR a step closer to mass-market.

On the news

  • A Quest competitor enters the scene: The Pico Neo 2 is here. It’s focusing on the Enterprise market where it is price competitive with the Quest Enterprise option. There’s also an eye tracking version powered by Tobii. It’s hardware is slightly superior to the Quest and more comfortable. The tracking isn’t as good but people who’ve tried it have all claimed that it’s good enough. So here it is, a proper competitor to the Quest. It won’t be able to compete on the consumer market as it lacks a decent software platform, but the Quest was a major achievement hardware-wise and it’s good to see others catch up. I don’t want Facebook to be the only viable solution in the VR space and competition will also push the tech forward faster. [Link]

  • CES focuses on headset form factor: Most other VR and AR headsets seen at CES had one major thing in common: glasses-like form factor. Comfort and appearance are critical for headset adoption. One of the more interesting ones come from Panasonic, that brings in 4K HDR micro OLED panels. The field of view isn’t great with micro OLED panels yet, we still need to wait on some optic breakthrough, but this steampunk like glasses have grabbed people’s attention and feedback is quite positive. The other interesting contender is the Pico VR Glasses that uses what they call ‘pancake’ lenses, that allow to bring the screen closer to the lenses. They also have a better field of view compared to Panasonic. Both weigh around a third of the Quest’s weight. They are 3DOF, so won’t be mass market, but it’s great to see companies pushing the hardware in different directions. Nreal is also getting ready for a release in early 2020. They showed off their Nebula platform and people who’ve tried it had really positive comments about the headset. [Link] [Link]

  • 5m PSVR units sold, but sales declining: Major milestone, but with the PS5 coming out this year and the hardware starting to lag behind, sales are declining. I also feel like there have been less prominent game launches recently. Can’t wait to hear what they have in store for PSVR 2. [Link]

  • Job Simulator becomes second game to sell 1M units: Second game after Beat Saber. This list will just get longer and longer as VR becomes a more viable platform. Neither of the games are shooters and are built by teams that have properly understood the platform. Congratulations to the team! [Link]

Food for thought

  • Fortnite wants to be the Metaverse: A Forbes article speculating on Fornite becoming a Metaverse in the future. They are already doing advertisement on the platform and people go there to hang out. Tim Sweeney has been outspoken about this before and check out this tweet:

    So yeah. It’s clearly in their plans. They’re going step by step creating a nice foundation for an open Metaverse while making sure people have a reason to go there and it’s economically viable. [Link]

  • Communities can’t include everyone: Twitter thread by Holden Shearer on how you can have hateful people and those being hated on in the same community. Social platforms are definitely moving in this direction. Mastodon’s federated network is an example. Each server sets their own rules and different communities are in different servers. In real life, we also tend to see this separation. And people who break the rules are sent to prison. Freedom of speech is critical, but people needs to feel safe. Each community creator needs to decide what sort of rules and people they want to prioritise on their platform. [Link]

  • Is Mobile + Cloud the ultimate platform?: Ben Thompson suggests that we moved from time-shared mainframe computers, where you could do batch work, to PCs connected to Intranet servers making it more ubiquitous but it was still deliberate to now Mobile + Cloud which makes access to computing universal and continuous. That would mean that there’s no other way to improve on that. VR/AR/IoT etc. would just be an extension of mobile devices connected to the cloud. That would also mean that it gets harder for newcomers to break in, similar to how Microsoft broke IBMs dominance and Google/Apple/Facebook broke Microsoft’s. As I feel strongly against how these companies function, I sure hope it’s not the case. I expect crypto could be the infrastructure that once again becomes a paradigm shift. Protocols like RNDR support sharing computing power between devices, self-sovereign identity will give us power over our data, smart contracts allow us to build new governance systems and this is just the beginning. [Link]

Cool Creations

  • Become Spiderman in WebXR: Similar to the Spiderman movie game released for PC VR, Tal Kol has made a WebXR experience that allows you to fling around an infinite procedural city. These sort of short fun experiences make total sense in WebXR and it’s great to see more and more content come to the platform. [Link]

  • Find all events happening in VR: With many Social VR platforms focusing on events, there’s now an easy way to learn about upcoming ones. [Link]

  • Text input based on the distance between controllers: To make VR mass-market and reduce friction, I feel that the main priority is text input. Alfredo has been building some prototypes lately so make to follow him. This is an interesting one where you select characters based on the distance between your controllers. I’m unsure about the precision, but it’s important to try all sorts of crazy ideas. [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

Setting the foundations for the Metaverse

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

The last newsletter of the decade. Also the fourth newsletter of the decade. But who’s counting. With the Holidays upon us, there has been less news but some interesting ideas and reflections that settle the foundations for the Metaverse. The Quest isn’t shipping until end of February in the US thanks to its success during the Holidays. It’s proving to be the first proper VR consumer device.

Things like IoT standards, Edge computing and 5G are coming along and will be the infrastructure for the Metaverse. And the software stack being built on top is making great strides. Games are getting better and better and companies are starting to make real money (Superhot brought in >$2M over the last week). VR applications like Gravity Sketch or remote work tools are gaining presence. We’re figuring out better interactions and interfaces, and hand tracking makes the devices more accessible.

Here’s a nice summary by Sai Krishna of the amazing strides made in XR during the last decade:

Day by day and year by year we’re making Spatial Computing and the Metaverse happen. I can’t wait to see what 2020 and the following decade has to offer and to work together with all of you to make the open Metaverse happen.

Happy New Year!

On the news

  • An IoT standard is finally coming: It’s called Projected Home over IP and it’s formed by the likes of Amazon, Apple, Google and the Zigbee Alliance. Yup, you heard that correctly. This to me sounds like the tech news of the year. IoT is shaping our homes and cities and will continue to do so in a deeper way. We’ve been waiting for the big companies to work together on a standard for years and it’s finally happening. It’s based on IP which already works everywhere and is an open standard. They are expected to release an open source reference implementation by the end of 2020. [Link]

  • Mozilla experimenting with streaming: Mozilla is playing with Servo to offload video rendering to a high-end server and then streaming that to a headset. This only works with video for now, which isn’t interactive. It’s still an interesting experiment. Headsets need to be as small and power efficient as possible. For that, running heavy applications on the cloud and streaming them to the headsets seem like the solution. Cloud gaming is making strides. We’re still far from it working at a high enough frame-rate for VR though. We do need to make sure that the communication is secure and private and servers don’t hoard user data. [Link]

Food for thought

  • Polygon loves Oculus Quest but is concerned about Facebook: Mainstream gaming media is cozying up to VR. Polygon published a great recommendation for people to get the Quest. We finally have a device we can recommend to all sorts of people that just gets better and better with software updates. But with one caveat, it’s from Facebook. Many of us don’t trust them anymore. We don’t want Facebook in our homes and controlling the software layer. [Link]

  • How much data is the Quest actually sharing: Mozilla recently released a study of how much data the Quest sends back to Facebook. The conclusion is “not so much”. This may sound positive but their Terms of Service still allows them to collect whatever they want so they could start collecting it at any moment without notice. The danger is still very much there and we must oppose it strongly as a community. [Link]

  • Tivoli Cloud VR working on organic virtual worlds: In a recent blog post, Tivoli outlined their design philosophy for their Social VR platform. Contrasting with an up-down directive of how virtual worlds should be built, they want the community to outline what the virtual universe should look like. Instead of grey and rigid urban planning, delightful and messy people-built worlds. I can’t wait to see how they bring this vision to life and it’s very much aligned with my idea of the Metaverse I want to live in. [Link]

Cool Creations

  • Visit Doom levels in WebXR: Ian Belcher has recently shared his adaptation of classical Doom levels with A-Frame that work with WebXR browsers. Many people grew up and got into games thanks to Doom and with WebXR can no be inside the game. It reminds me of Ready Player One where certain worlds allowed you to relive classical films. [Link]

  • Presenting Spatial Computing in 2009: I recently bumped into Albert Hwang’s presentation of Spatial Computing on Twitter. It’s a great reminder that none of this is new. We’ve been working on VR since the 60s and the term AR was coined in 1990. We stand on the shoulder of giants who have been experimenting with these technologies for decades. There’s so much left to explore, but it’s worth revisiting the past to better pursue the future. Albert does a great explanation of what AR is and different interaction paradigms. 10 years later and many possibilities he outlines are now possible with a $3000 headset. We expect the Quest of AR over the next decade and we’ll have many things figured out by then. (Albert Hwang ended up working at Oculus and currently works at Looking Glass) [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

Is XR dead yet?

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

Hey there! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks in XR. Maybe a crazy past few months. Oculus continues to generate a ton of news with some important internal changes. The current state of the XR market hits some companies like High Fidelity and Magic Leap hard. But people and organizations continue to ship and share important steps forwards that makes it hard to feel negative about the industry.

A highlight is the launch of Where Thoughts Go by Lucas Rizzotto on Quest. It seems like Oculus is using it as a benchmark to allow more interesting and innovative experiences on the platform. VR can allow for wonderfully weird experience, but the strict curation of the Quest store impedes it. I sure hope WTG opens the gate a little.

On the news

  • Mike Booth from Facebook Spaces leaves VR: The front-man behind the Social VR side of things at Facebook is leaving, and leaving VR as a whole. Facebook continues to push Social VR with their upcoming launch of Horizon but it seems like Mike Booth is no longer interested in pursuing that. [Link]

  • High Fidelity is shutting down: The company will continue on a new project, but the Social VR platform is closing in mid January and half of the staff is being laid of. They’re shutting it down properly, letting people fork the code, sell their coins, keeping their blockchain alive etc. They tried pivoting to an unreleased remote work project, but have abandoned that as well. We’ll have to wait and see what the new direction for the company is. I think Social VR without a real utility won’t just work. We need to have a reason to hang out with others in VR, and that reason needs to be tied to whatever VR can do right now that makes it better than a 2D display. Social VR is more hassle than social networks and videoconferencing, and we loose facial expressions. Lets see how Facebook’s entry with Horizon goes. [Link]

  • Magic Leap pivots to enterprise: It finally happened. They’re renaming the headset, removing the “Creators Edition” and offering a package ready for the enterprise. It’s a big change in direction for Magic Leap who have tried to focus on end consumers when the technology was clearly not ready for prime time yet. They also announced Magic Leap 2 for 2021, but that feels more like a way to keep control of the news spreading in a more positive fashion. I still think that with the large amount of VC funding they picked up, it’ll be hard for Magic Leap to become a viable business. They’ll probably have to be bought at some point. [Link]

  • Focals releasing new glasses in 2020: They only just released their first pair this year and have already announced new ones for 2020. It’s supposed to be lighter and look even more like regular glasses with higher resolution. These are still not AR glasses where the virtual content adapts to your environment. It’s more like a smart watch in your glasses. Like Google Glass. It’s still exciting to see Focals and Snap Spectacles trying these form factors and getting the population accustomed to idea of HMDs. [Link]

  • Medium joins Adobe: Weird move by Oculus as it’s a pretty popular and well considered application among 3D creators. I wonder if it will continue to stay free or will become multi-platform. Adobe continues to push the tooling infrastructure around XR, adding Medium to other applications like Aero. [Link]

  • Hand tracking available on Quest: Surprise early launch of this much awaited feature. My initial thoughts are that it’s far from being at the level of Leap Motion, but good enough for managing the Oculus interface and early UX work is promising. It still feels magical that they were able to make this work on Quest and I expect it to improve with software updates. Everyone seems to expect a cheaper Quest down the line without controllers. [Link]

  • Firefox now has send tab to VR: Probably the most requested feature from the WebXR community. You can now browse on any device and send that URL to your headset so you don’t have to worry about typing in VR which we all now completely sucks. Reducing friction is great! [Link]

  • Facebook will start using your Oculus data for Ads: It’s what we all feared after the acquisition. We knew it would happen eventually. I personally deleted my Facebook account, so it sucks to see that many interesting features in the Oculus platform will need to be tied to one. I might end up creating one with no data just for that, but of course, the no data part is a lie. Facebook will collect browsing and VR information. Facebook’s business model doesn’t align well with what society needs and it’s frightening that they’re are the main investors behind XR. [Link]

  • Twitter wants to become decentralized: Jack Dorsey explained in a thread that they are creating a separate team (but not really) to work on open decentralized protocols that Twitter could use. It’s an exciting announcement and the intention is great. They seem to focus on blockchain based approaches which I’m not so sure is completely necessary. The ActivityPub, Secure Scuttlebutt and Matrix communities are stating they already have standards and that it doesn’t make sense to create a new. Some argue that federated standards aren’t decentralized enough, and Twitter probably has different needs and scale that these existing platforms don’t account for. [Link]

Food for thought

  • Philip Rosedale thinks HMDs aren’t ready for primetime: And I agree. He mentions 4 pain points; 3 of which (comfort, resolution and text input) I focused on my post about When will VR reach mass-market that I published last January. It’s all about friction, and the lower the friction, the less critical the applications need to be. I called it the Friction - Killer App Scale. His 4th point is about seeing the real world from inside the headset which further aligns with this. Philip argues that these are the reasons that Social VR won’t kick off. I don’t agree there. Applications that don’t work are normally due to them not being entertaining enough or not solving a real problem. 3D virtual universes have been around for decades. Those that are only about speaking to other people through avatars have tended to fail as people won’t have a proper reason to go there. Though again, the less friction, the less critical the application needs to be. So maybe with better headsets, Social VR might work. [Link]

Cool Creations

  • Voxel Runner: New game by Dani Gatunes based on the mechanics from Pistol Whip and running on a browser! Haven’t had a chance to check it out yet but it looks great and Dani is one of the indie folks pushing WebXR the furthest. [Link]

  • Tiny Racing: This may not seem like much, but it’s a test game from Unity for their Project Tiny runtime. The important thing to note here is that it has a Web export that creates pretty lightweight experiences that work on all devices and load fairly quickly. Having Unity work better with the Web will be instrumental for the Web’s viability as a VR platform. [Link]

  • VR Design Course: Danny Bittman has released (and will continue to do so) a set of videos around creating 3D content for VR. He’ll go into different tools including Tilt Brush, Gravity Sketch and Unity. I’m so glad this exist and I’ll definitely learn a lot from it. The easier it is to learn to create VR content, the better and more varied the experiences we’ll get. [Link]

Interesting Meetups & Communities

  • Educators in VR: Possible the first ever long event in VR? It’s happening on the 17th-22nd of February 2020. There will be a ton of talks covering all aspects around the intersection of Education and VR. It’ll be hosted on multiple platforms including Altspace and ENGAGE. I’m extremely curious to see how it will work and go. [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

AAA VR Games Enter The Scene

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

Hey! I’m still trying to get used to this newsletter thing. My main objective is to give you quick insights into the latest news in the Metaverse and XR space to save you time. And maybe discover a couple of new things or perspectives you wouldn’t have otherwise.

This past fortnight has been really interesting in XR news and a bit hard to keep up. Check out my selection of the main things that have happened!


On the news

  • Half Life Alyx and other AAA VR games announced and launched: The awaited and long-rumored Half Life VR is coming March 2020. It’s a a major milestone for VR gaming and has gotten the community extremely excited. Many Half Life fans are disappointed that it’s made specifically for VR, but we can only hope that it will help sell more HMDs. Many interactions are only possible in VR, and Half Life Alyx was developed from the beginning with this in mind. It joins Medal of Honor, also coming in 2020, and the recently released Asgard’s Wrath and Stormland as AAA games pushing VR as a major gaming platform. [Link]

  • Atmos XR, the open-source Web based HMD, pivots away from XR: Sad news that Atmos is pivoting away from XR. They were building an open-source headset that would boot to WebXR. It was a very interesting initiative that would help push the boundaries of the open Metaverse forward, but understandably, due to the small VR market, they have to pivot. They are releasing all the progress they’ve made, so we might see the community pick it up, similar to Leap Motion’s North Star. [Link]

  • Oculus Link is now available: And it seems to be working great with ~$10 cables. I don’t see a reason why most users wouldn’t use Quest for everything over Rift S, or even HTC Cosmos and Valve Index. PC specific headsets are expensive and are only useful to high-end gamers who want the best of the best. For most VR users, the reduced friction of Quest is the way to go. And most Quest users might not even have a VR-ready PC, and for those who do, a $10 cable gives them more than enough to enjoy Rift games. [Link]

  • Tivoli forks High Fidelity: While High Fidelity decided to stop pursuing the Metaverse as Philip Rosedale, CEO, believe it’s not economically viable to do so for time being. Caitlyn Meeks and Maki Deprez, ex Hi-Fi folks, have decided to take the open sourced Hi-Fi code and fork it. We still don’t need what direction they’re going to take it in, but a lot of great work was done at High Fidelity to build a federated metaverse with great audio that could handle +400 concurrent users. Can’t wait to learn more! [Link]

  • Lots of updates from Sinespace: Another social VR platform that has been around for a while celebrate their 3rd anniversary. It’s a very powerful platform from a technical viewpoint and it’s getting better and better. Adam Frisby, CTO, announced important improvements to scripting speed, avatars and, more the more interesting voxel terrain editing. And it’s a proper voxel implementation where you can even do water. Most social VR spaces, including Sinespace, have to answer the question “Why use it?”, but it’s good to see different companies solve important technical issues. [Link]

  • Beat Saber now belongs to Facebook: Now this was a sudden surprise. It’s worth noting that Beat Saber is a kind of game that Oculus wouldn’t have funded and now they’re buying Beat Games. I’m not a fan of this decision. I don’t want Facebook to control the VR market, that terrifies my. I believe we need to aim for an open community that fosters creativity from many parties, specially indie teams. Beat Games were the best example of that culture. I’m glad they found success which they totally deserve though. [Link]

Food for thought

  • No one company can build the Metaverse: Avaer from Exokit starts a thread criticising ICO projects aiming to build the metaverse. His main argument is that the definition of metaverse implies that it can’t be built by a single organization, so those who say they’re doing it are n’t being truthful. I think the quote “A successful metaverse means you are the last person to get rich.” is interesting as well. I’m sure there can be good business models for those who contribute tools to the metaverse, but if you’re main objective is to earn as much money as possible, that won’t be aligned with the definition of an open metaverse. [Link]

  • Is the Metaverse an unreachable utopia?: James Baicoianu from JanusVR suggests that we may never reach the Metaverse as each player has a distinct vision for it. The metaverse implies a general platform for everyone, but if each organization creates different siloes, we’ll never reach “the 1 platform” like we have with the Web. I don’t think this will be the case. We already have the Internet and the Web as examples of massive networks shared by most of the world. And there are existing standards bodies that keep on developing them. The metaverse might end up being an upgrade to those networks. [Link]

Cool Creations

  • Urbit: Another identity contender that’s worth checking out. They are far from ready for prime time. 2020 seems to be the year when they open up. Currently it’s only possible to install their software and set up your identity. The approach is interesting though, and it’s one I’ve been pushing for years. All our digital interactions stem from ourselves as individuals, from our identity. That means that our identity can become our personal operating system and all other applications run on top of it. I am concerned about the limit on unique Urbit identities though. As with land limited VR worlds, I think we have technology that allows us to avoid these limits, so why set them? [Link]

Random Findings

  • Pygmalion's Spectacles, VR’s first appearance in Sci-Fi. I discovered this short book while researching for a blog post. It’s written by Stanley Grauman Weinbaum and it’s only about 30 pages long. It was published in 1935, so it counts as the first appearance of VR in Sci-Fi. The book is about a pair of glasses that trick your senses to believe they’re in a different world. Sound familiar? Enter the first virtual world and enjoy while the main character questions himself of what it means to be real. Definitely worth a read. [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

Kicking things off

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

Hey there! Welcome to the first ever Simbol Insights, a newsletter to get the latest insights from the open metaverse: news, essays, creations and communities.

I’m Alberto and I’ll post a new update every 2 weeks so you can make sure you catch up on the most important updates from the deep metaverse (can I coin this now?). I’ll make sure to extract the main insights from each piece of content so you can get a quick update and continue with your busy day.

It’s great to have you here, and I’m looking forward to constructing healthy discussions with you. If you have any comments or suggestions, please reach out!


On the news

  • John Carmack leaves Oculus: He’s moving to an advisory CTO role, but will now be focusing on AGI (Artificial General Intelligence). Carmack’s been like a North Star for VR developers, and his initial push of Palmer Luckey’s prototype was key to make this new VR wave happen. He’s constantly pushed both Mobile VR (like Gear VR, Oculus Go and Oculus Quest) and for developers to build better apps, offering free critiques. His keynote and hallway sessions at Oculus Connect will be missed. Based on past successes, it’s hard to think he won’t make any progress in AI, but it feels worrisome to see AI research leaded by people and companies not known for their empathetic capabilities like: Elon Musk, Facebook, Google and now Carmack. [Link]

  • Looking Glass 8K 32”. Looking Glass had already released 2 small holographic screens, but is now jumping ahead to a 32 inch 8K display. It’s focused on business collaboration, but it’s a clear path forward to 3D displays and holograms without glasses. I can’t wait for all screens, including our phones, to be able to display the 3D worlds we currently only enjoy fully with HMDs. [Link]

  • Minecraft Earth. An AR Minecraft game. It has been promoted at Apple Keynotes and is now here. I haven’t tried it myself, but feedback doesn’t seem to be great with clunky UX. It is another big IP betting on AR though. [Link]

  • Quixel joins Epic Games. With this, many high quality photogrammetry assets from Quixel are now made available in Unreal Engine for free. Making it easier and cheaper to build high quality 3D content is necessary to make the Metaverse happen. [Link]

  • Chrome 79 ships WebXR. Standards bodies have worked to transition from WebVR to WebXR and it’s not shipping in Chrome 79 (currently in the Beta channel). It’s shipping without flags and without Origin Trials. There are things that are still not available in WebXR, like AR features, that will come in the future. It’s a huge milestone, and Chrome now joins other browsers like Oculus Browser and Firefox Reality with shipping VR support. Developers now have a stable API to work with. [Link] [Link]

  • Bad news cycle for Magic Leap. It seems like the company is running out of money again and has started fundraising their Series E. A leaked email from Rony Abovitz, CEO at Magic Leap, mentions that they’ve already raised $500M. It seems that as part of that funding, they signed over their patents as collateral to JPMorgan Chase. I find it harder and harder to see a way out for Magic Leap as they go further down the investment rabbit hole with no profits in sight. To make things worse, reports say they’ve only sold Magic Leap Ones in the low thousands. Now they’ve also lost 2 executives, CFO Scott Henry and SVP John Gaeta (who created bullet time for The Matrix). Rony does try to hype the Magic Leap 2 in the same email using his typical marketing speech but 🤷. [Link] [Link]

Food for thought

  • The Web Emergent Metaverse: Greg Fodor explains the vision behind Mozilla Hubs and their bet on the Web. Greg comments on what made the Web so popular (simple for newcomers), features that strengthened its position (like JavaScript) and what’s missing (identity, payments and bi-directional links). He then points out how the Web leveraged the exponentially growing Internet, and that the Metaverse will need to do some with some other super-growing network. His bet is on the Web. Greg finishes outlining a set of minimum features to kick-off the Metaverse, explaining that the Web started out without many features that we now expect today. Some of the basic features he mentions are real-time communication, easy tools to create 3D content and mixed media in 3D space. Make sure to check it out. Do you think his list of basic features will be enough? I believe the content in a Metaverse will need to provide real utility, and the minimum features go around what kind of utilities they enable. [Link]

  • Tim Sweeney on what’s necessary to build the Metaverse. Really dense talk by the CEO of Epic Games, makers of Unreal Engine and Fortnite, on the path from now to the open Metaverse. He starts with a clear and specific definition of Metaverse: “It’s a real-time 3d social medium where people can create and engage in shared experience as equal participants in an economy with societal impact.” The “equal participants” bit wouldn’t fit the Metaverse from Snow Crash, which coined the term, to be considered as such. Though I’m all for making sure the Metaverse is open! Sweeney talks about what kind of standards (like identity, object marketplace etc.) need to happen and the value of competition in every part of the stack. He then moves on to point that the Metaverse will need to provide real utility (“be better than Fornite”), start with what we have right now (like linking Fornite itself and Minecraft), and that there needs to be economic incentives for creators. I believe he hits all the right notes, and is the best summary of how to make the open Metaverse happen. Jin from M3 also went through the hard effort of transcribing the talk so we can review it more thoroughly. [Link]

  • Voices of VR podcast series on XR Ethics & Privacy. Kent Bye is one of the necessary voices in the XR community making sure that we also talk about the impact of what we build. He’s just launched a series of podcasts made up of 14 interviews around XR Ethics and Privacy. I haven’t had time to listen to all of them yet, but will definitely do so. This is a crucial conversation to have and I appreciate Kent and others making sure it happens. [Link]

Cool Creations

  • Mozilla Spoke, Architecture Kit: Spoke is a great tool by Mozilla to easily create virtual worlds. It integrates seamlessly with their social VR platform Hubs, so you can create a 3D environment, upload it to Hubs, share a link with others and share that virtual worlds with colleagues. Now it’s even easier to create these worlds thanks to the release of the Architecture Kit, +400 optimised models to create buildings. [Link]

Interesting Meetups & Communities

  • M3 Meetup - 17th November, 12pm PST. M3 (Metaverse Makers Meetup) is a community of makers focused on the open metaverse. Check out the charter. It’s difficult to organise a biweekly meetup, and the folks at M3 have done an amazing job at it and uploading all the interesting talks to Youtube. A new edition is happening this Sunday with two talks: Identity in the Metaverse (by myself) and (by Alfredo). Tune in here in Hubs! In the meantime, join the Exokit Discord or follow on Twitter to continue the discussions!

  • We Make Reality. A great community created and spearheaded by Eva Hoerth. It’s a very open, caring and diverse community around those values in XR. It’s a great place to share, discover and help each other with our work in the space. The best way to participate is signing up in their website, but also make sure to follow them on Twitter.

Random Findings

  • Google Lively. I recently bumped into Lively, a web based 3D environment from 2008. It was the 20% project of Niniane Wang (who also worked at Niantic later on) and even worked on Internet Explorer in Windows XP. Rooms supported real-time communication of up to 20 people and supported chat and watching Youtube together. Rooms could also be embedded in websites. It’s interesting to see how we’ve been pursuing this model for decades. [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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