The XR Week Peek (2024.04.16): Google promises “AR Announcements”, first details found on Gabe Newell’s BCI startup, and more!

These days I’ll start organizing my trip to the US to be a speaker at AWE in June… in case you want to meet me there, feel free to reach out. The sooner I know how many people would like to meet me, the better I’ll organize my trip…
 After this personal announcement, let’s have a look at the most important pieces of XR news of the week!

Top news of the week

(Image by Google)

Google promises “AR Announcements” for its I/O event

It’s a period of important announcements for Google. It recently had its Google Cloud Next event, where it unveiled a bunch of new AI products, like Google Vids, made to directly compete with OpenAI Sora, or the new version of its copilot for supporting developers.
 But Google’s most important event of the year is Google I/O, which is going to happen on May, 14. Google stated that we can expect “AR announcements” during it and the whole community started wondering what it may mean. I think that for sure we can see some new advancements in ARCore, or in its integration with other Google services, like Google Maps.
 But what we all hope is that Google will also unveil something more about its Android XR operating system that it is building for future AR headsets and glasses. We know that Google is building an OS for AR glasses and we know that it is already proposing it to XR hardware manufacturers (the CTO of Meta confirmed that), so it would be very interesting to know what are the features of this OS and what are the first partners that will be onboard. Android is the most used phone OS worldwide, and Android XR may have the same destiny, so it’s very interesting to learn more about it.
 The only confirmed partner with Google for Android XR is Samsung, but honestly, I don’t expect Samsung’s headset to be unveiled during a Google event. It’s a Samsung product, so probably it will be announced during an event of the Korean company.

More info (Google I/O to feature AR announcements)
More info (Everything announced at Google Cloud Next)

Other relevant news

(Image by Glue)

Enterprise collaboration Glue may shut down

On Linkedin, the company behind the enterprise VR collaboration software Glue has announced its bankruptcy. The software now is part of the assets to be sold in the bankruptcy process, and the team is working to find a company that is willing to buy the platform and carry it on. But if a solution is not found in the next ten days, Glue will be discontinued. This is very unfortunate, considering that was one of the most known enterprise XR platforms, which had a good number of customers.
 My heart is with all the people of the Glue team… I know how it’s hard to build a social VR platform and how it’s hard to see it being stopped because of financial issues. If someone of the team is reading this article and wants someone to cry with, just reach out to me.
 It’s not a good moment for small social XR projects, with Mozilla Hubs and now Glue being in trouble…

More info (Linkedin announcement of bankruptcy)
More info (Glue’s bankruptcy on Road To VR)

Apple promotes the Vision Pro as an enterprise device

Apple is clearly aiming its Vision Pro headset not only at prosumers and enthusiasts but also at enterprises. The company has recently shared an article where it describes the enterprise use cases of the Apple Vision Pro, which means it is actively promoting the B2B use of its headset. It’s relevant that it does not talk about theoretical uses, but about important companies that are already successfully using Apple’s headset to improve their production processes: KLM, Porsche, SAP, etc.
 The categories of use cases mentioned in the post are:

  • Productivity
  • Design
  • Training and simulation
  • Guided work

which are more or less the categories where XR already proved to be useful in the B2B sector. Apple has a good reputation in the enterprise world and it will be interesting to see how many Fortune 500 companies will prefer having an Apple Vision Pro instead of a Quest 3 or a Magic Leap 2.
(Thanks Dimo Pepelyashev Chris Koomen for the tip)

More info (Apple Vision Pro’s enterprise use cases)

Talking about use cases, one that is surely going to be very popular in the future but that Apple is surely not going to promote on its website is adult entertainment. I’ve found that a couple started using Apple Vision Pro to record amateur videos of themselves “having fun” to share on adult entertainment websites. May the AVP kickstart the amateur genre in the VR adult entertainment world?

More info (AVP’s adult use case)

The third and last interesting article about the Vision Pro I’ve found this week talks about the problems its first users are having, reiterating issues about neck pain, headaches, and even black eyes.

More info (Complaints on the AVP)

First details emerge about Gabe Newell’s BCI efforts

Gabe Newell has never hidden his interest in Brain Computer Interface technologies, but until this week we never had any news about it. Thanks to the usual Brad Lynch, we got to know that he founded a startup to work on them and that it has just gotten out of stealth.
 The company is “Starfish Neuroscience” and features in the team both Gabe Newell and Alan Yates. It is located in Bellevue, exactly like Valve, and has a very flat organization, exactly like Valve. There are not many words about the products being built, if not that they are working on “Minimally invasive wireless sensors & actuators” and on Advanced Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).
 It seems that GabeN is trying to compete with Elon Musk. Starfish is actively hiring, so in case you want to join GabeN’s quest, you can apply on its website.

More info

John Carmack apologizes for not having defended Palmer Luckey

John Carmack has publicly apologized on X for not having stood for Palmer Luckey when Facebook fired him for his right-wing political views. We all already loved John and we love him even more after this honest public statement. The thing could have ended here, if not that Palmer Luckey and Andrew Bosworth themselves started quarreling in the comments of the thread, with Palmer really wanting to unveil everything that happened, and Bosworth playing in a defensive way. It’s been a good Sunday read, while I was eating some popcorns. Considering the naivety of Boz’s answers, I guess that Meta’s PR team was instead drinking bottles of Tequilas…

More info (John Carmack’s statement)
More info (A tweet from Boz)
More info (A tweet from Palmer)

News worth a mention

Meta Quest v64 runtime improves the passthrough

Meta has rolled out the new runtime of Quest, v64, which introduces a drastic improvement in passthrough quality when you are looking at screens. While before the display of your phone or your laptop looked like a white halo, now you can read its content even from inside the Quest. The passthrough appears a bit more defined in general, but don’t think it has changed much: it is just a little better than before, with a clear improvement only when you are looking at a display.
 There are other updates included in this new version: Quest 3 gets lying-down mode and support for external microphones. It seems that scene setup now also supports the automatic detection of doors and pieces of furniture, which is cool because it is a step forward towards full environment understanding, something that we strongly need in XR headsets.

More info (Quest v64 Update — Road To VR)
More info (Quest v64 Update — Upload VR)
More info (New Scene Setup features)

US teenagers are using more VR according to a survey

Analytics firm Piper Sandler has carried out research and found that the weekly use of virtual reality devices increased from 10% to 13% compared to the fall of 2023. The same research states that 33% of teenagers in the US now own a VR device, while last year, that figure was 31%. While the increment is not that big, what for me is interesting about this piece of news is that analysts have started to say positive things about XR again. I think this is a great sign, and may preannounce a new growth period for all our field.

More info

Khronos releases OpenXR 1.1

The Khronos Group has released the standard v1.1 of OpenXR. This is very good news: it means the standard is alive and is being improved to stay relevant following the evolution of the XR ecosystem. The new standard clarifies some points of the previous version and introduces new features in the specifications like Stereo with Foveated Rendering, Local Floor, and Grip Surface.

More info

PC VR is growing

An interesting article on Upload VR clarifies that PC VR, while not being so successful as standalone VR, is still a growing market. We were all fooled by the stagnating percentage of VR users reported by the Steam survey, but actually, that number is constantly influenced by the growing number of Chinese people on Steam. The Flat2VR community added to the article the datum that some of the most popular PCVR mods had around half a million downloads. PC VR is actually growing and some applications have even found it to be a very successful market.

More info (Upload reporting the growth of PCVR)
More info (Flat2VR talking about the mods)

The Humane AI Pin must improve

The Humane AI Pin is one of the gadgets getting the most attention in the last months because it promises to be able to replace your smartphone thanks to its AI-driven natural interface. Most tech magazines reviewed it this week and reported that while interesting, it is still full of issues like overheating, inability to use its projected display outdoors, object recognition not always working, and so on. His hand-based interface is anyway quite cool, and someone tried to replicate it on Quest.

More info (CNET’s review of the Humane AI Pin)
More info (Humane’s interface on Quest)

Some news about content

  • Arcade Paradise VR is coming to Quest on April 25th, with pre-orders discounted at 10% off the $20 price tag on Quest
  • Luke Ross released a new VR mod for the PC version of Horizon Forbidden West
  • Beat Saber just got its first-ever hip hop mixtape, with also the possibility of listening to the uncensored versions of the songs
  • The developer behind open-world RPG A Township Tale announced it has a new title in the works, this time focusing on a “dark fantasy game” exclusive to VR headsets
  • EXOcars, which promises physics-based offroad racing, reaches Steam Early Access on May 22 and targets a full release in October 2024
  • Homeworld: Vast Reaches adapts the popular RTS series for VR this spring on Quest
  • Apollo 13: The Lost Tapes VR is a time travel horror shooter coming to PSVR 2 this month that re-adapts the story of Apollo 13
  • Nope Challenge, a game that lets you live your worst phobias (making you say “Nope, nope, nope!”) reaches the Meta Quest platform on April 25
  • Masters of Light, a hand-tracking action-adventure VR game is a new experience inspired by the studio’s previous free self-defense VR experience, Fight Back. It is coming to Quest next month
  • Ultimate Swing Golf, a golf game promising “realistic shot mechanics”, reaches the Meta Quest platform on May 16
  • The usual ICYMI on Upload gives a lot of news about minor VR games
  • MetaCity Patrol is a new Quest game that seems a mix between AirCar and Lo-Fi
  • Someone on Reddit made an app for Vision Pro to have live subtitles of everything you hear

More info (Arcade Paradise VR)
More info (Horizon Forbidden West)
More info (Beat Saber)
More info (Township Tale’s studio)
More info (EXOCars)
More info (Homeworld)
More info (Apollo 13)
More info (Nope Challenge)
More info (Masters Of Light)
More info (Ultimate Swing Golf)
More info (ICYMI)
More info (MetaCity Patrol)
More info (Live Subtitles AR App)

Some reviews about content

  • Upload went hands-on with Max Mustard and praised its very good execution, stating that it is “a standout title in the third person VR platformer category”

More info (Max Mustard)

Other news

There has been the first surgery aided by some kind of AR in Chile

Learn more

Meta is testing an interesting “instant replay” feature in Horizon Worlds

Learn more

Dyson made for real the AR vacuuming app that Daniel Beauchamp prototyped a few weeks ago

Learn more

Someone made beautiful CT scans of the Apple Vision Pro and Quest 3

Learn more

VR browser Wolvic is now based on Chromium

Learn more

A Kickstarter campaign will be announced soon for a pinball controller for VR

Learn more

On X I’ve found a very cool rap video made with Star Wars’ C3PO… of course, made with AI

Learn more

News from partners (and friends)

Discover Newton’s Room

Newton’s Room is a mixed reality physics education experience where users apply Newton’s laws of physics to solve challenging puzzles that adapt and respond to their physical environment. I personally think that virtual reality can be amazing to teach physics, so I suggest you give a look at this app.

Learn more

Sponsored Area

I’m looking for collaborations

Since the platform I was working on is “on hold”, in this period I’m open to collaborations. As a developer and CTO, I can bring my long experience in developing XR applications, both as standalone experiences or virtual worlds on platforms like VRChat or Roblox. Add me on Linkedin and let’s discuss about how I can help you 🙂

Let’s talk on Linkedin

Some XR fun

This game is literally GENIUS: it is made so that the user seen from the outside while he is playing it looks totally silly. You have to see it.
Funny link

Oh so you have just released a game for PCVR? Nice, let me tell you how cool is my Quest 3…
Funny link

Donate for good

Like last week, also this week in this final paragraph I won’t ask you to donate to my blog, but to the poor people who are facing the consequences of the war. Please donate to the Red Cross to handle the current humanitarian situation in Ukraine. I will leave you the link to do that below.
 Let me take a moment before to thank anyway all my Patreon donors for the support they give to me:

  • Alex Gonzalez VR
  • DeoVR
  • GenVR
  • Eduardo Siman
  • Jonn Fredericks
  • Jean-Marc Duyckaerts
  • Reynaldo T Zabala
  • Richard Penny
  • Terry xR. Schussler
  • Ilias Kapouranis
  • Paolo Leoncini
  • Nikk Mitchell and the great FXG team
  • Jake Rubin
  • Alexis Huille
  • Raghu Bathina
  • Chris Koomen
  • Cognitive3D
  • Wisear (Yacine Achiakh)
  • Masterpiece X
  • Dimo Pepelyashev
  • Jennifer Granger
  • Jason Moore
  • Steve Biggs
  • Julio Cesar Bolivar
  • Jan Schroeder
  • Kai Curtis
  • Francesco Strada
  • Sikaar Keita
  • Ramin Assadollahi
  • Juan Sotelo
  • Andrew Sheldon
  • Chris Madsen
  • Horacio Torrendell
  • Andrew Deutsch
  • Fabien Benetou
  • Tatiana Kartashova
  • Marco “BeyondTheCastle” Arena
  • Eloi Gerard
  • Adam Boyd
  • Jeremy Dalton
  • Joel Ward
  • Alex P
  • Lynn Eades
  • Donald P
  • Casie Lane
  • Catherine Henry
  • Qcreator
  • Ristband (Anne McKinnon & Roman Rappak)
  • Stephen Robnett
  • KaihatsuJai
  • Christopher Boyd
  • Sb
  • Pieter Siekerman
  • Enrico Poli
  • Vooiage Technologies
  • Caroline
  • Liam James O’Malley
  • Hillary Charnas
  • Wil Stevens
  • Brian Peiris
  • Francesco Salizzoni
  • Alan Smithson
  • Steve R
  • Brentwahn
  • Matt Cool
  • Simplex
  • Gregory F Gorsuch
  • Matias Nassi

And now here you are the link to donate:

Support The Red Cross in Ukraine

(Header image by Starfish Neuroscience)

The post The XR Week Peek (2024.04.16): Google promises “AR Announcements”, first details found on Gabe Newell’s BCI startup, and more! appeared first on The Ghost Howls.

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