I guess that during these days of hot summer many people are on vacation, so I wish you all to take some days of rest. Probably also the big guys of XR are on vacation because this week we have very little interesting news about things happened in our ecosystem. So… don’t expect this to be my best roundup ever… 😀
Top news of the week
Xiaomi unveils Mijia smartglasses
A few months ago, Xiaomi unveiled a concept video for its upcoming smart glasses, which should have featurd notifications from the phone, automatic translation of text from/to the Chinese language, map directions, and many other features, while still offering a very sleek design.
This week, Xiaomi actual unveiled the real hardware that should make that vision become real: dubbed Mijia AR Glasses, these glasses have a nice set of features. For instance, they have:
- A micro OLED 3,281 PPI display with 3,000 nit peak brightness
- 3GB RAM
- 32GB of storage
- A 50-megapixel camera, an eight-megapixel telephoto lens, along with 5x optical zoom and 15x hybrid zoom capabilities
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 8-core chipset
- Dual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
- An internal 1,020mAh battery
The glasses can actually record long videos (with a nice function that can give you the video even for the instants before you pressed the shutter button), and show you translation of texts that you are seeing from Chinese to English and vice versa.
So more or less they are delivering what they promised. There is only one big problem: the form factor is terrible, they look super-dork, even worse than Google Glasses. Wearing them on the street, you probably look like an idiot or someone coming from another planet. This is totally different from the concept idea. I don’t even know how they plan to sell this device in China, a country where people want to appear cool and not weird.
Anyway, if you are in China and you want to look 奇怪, you can get the Mijia AR glasses at CNY 2,499, or around $370, if you were an initial backer on Xiaomi Mall, or later at the standard price of CNY 2,699, or about $400. Have fun with them.
Other relevant news
Improbable and RP1 are creating the network of the metaverse
Many people talk about the metaverse these days, but very few of them work on tackling the technical issues that prevent it from happening. One of the biggest of them is networking: how can we put millions of people together in the same shared virtual space? Nowadays in social VR worlds like VRChat you can have a maximum of 50–100 people together in the same room. Many more people can be in the same virtual world, but they are separated in different “instances”, that is clone worlds with 50–100 people each, or in different “shards”, that is segments of a big open space with 50–100 people in each one of them. If we want to create virtual worlds scenarios like a concert in a stadium with 50,000 people inside singing altogether, we need to have a new networking stack. Luckily there are companies working on it.
A few weeks ago Yuga Labs and Improbable made a joint beta test for Otherside, the new NFT-based world by the creators of the Bored Ape Yacht Club. While I’m not a huge fan of this NFT hype, I was impressed by the technical outcome: they managed to put 4,500 people all together in the same environment, with all of them seeing and interacting with each other. And the CEO of Improbable stated that with the current architecture, they could go much beyond that, up to 100,000 users in the same shared space.
There is another startup that is working on a similar technology: it is called RP1 and I have personally interviewed it. They managed to put 4,000 bots simulating 4,000 connected clients in the same WebXR virtual world. The demo was not with real people like the one from Improbable, but the technology is VR-ready, with all the characters being able to move their fingers and perform facial expressions. Plus, RP1 used ONLY ONE SERVER. It is impressive. RP1 also is working on a demo with 100,000 people which should be ready by the end of 2022.
Companies like these are what will make having all the people of the physical world in the virtual world possible. I can’t wait to have my stadium experience in VR.
More info (Yuga Labs having a demo with 4500 people in)
More info (Improbable CEO talks about having up to 100,000 people in the same world)
More info (My interview with RP1)
News worth a mention
Quest v43 update to bring 16:9 video recording
Content creators, rejoice! According to the features currently released in the PTC, the next v43 update of the Quest runtime will finally introduce the possibility to record gameplay videos in 16:9 format.
And, interestingly, the runtime is also being prepared to add authorizations for face tracking and eye tracking, as a leaked screenshot proves. This shows that Project Cambria release is getting closer.
Some articles on the metaverse
Here you are my shortlist of the interesting articles about the M-word that I’ve read this week:
- According to a report from The Information, the prices of virtual lands have plummeted. Hopefully, this will lead to the end of the nonsense land speculation in virtual worlds
- An article suggests that we start regulating the metaverse now before we finish with the same problems with had with social media
- Another interesting post instead argues that if we upload our conscience to the cloud, it is not us living forever, but a clone of ours that will evolve in a different way than we would have evolved in the real world. This contrasts with some transhumanist ideas
- Tim O’Reilly has expressed his opinion on the metaverse. He says it is a communication channel. While I think it’s a bit reductive for the real potentialities of the metaverse, the article is still worth a read
Questioning the adoption of Quest
Last week, New World Notes asked an interesting question to its community: if the Quest has for sure surpassed the 10M sold units, why hasn’t Meta celebrated this yet?
This week, the same blog proposes an interesting theory: the retention of Quest is not as big as we imagine. Probably Zuck was hinting at 10M ACTIVE users, and it is unclear how many active users the Quest actually has, that is how many people really use their Quest every week. Probably the numbers are lower than we initially thought, and this could explain why the company could not subsidize the hardware with the gains of the store and so had to raise the prices of the headset. Unluckily, I don’t know if this theory is correct or not, but this is something that is worth thinking about.
Enjoy 5 hours of John Carmack
John Carmack has been hosted on Lex Fridman’s podcast and has spoken for a whopping 5 hours time about nerd stuff: rockets, metaverse, Doom, AI… everything you can think about. I hope someone writes a TL; DW of the video, but while we wait for that, you can enjoy watching the pure gold of the integral version.
Conjoined twins surgery was aided by VR training
The stories I love reading the most about VR are the ones where VR helps in saving lives. This week we had one of those stories: in Brazil, it has been possible to do a complex operation of separating two conjoined twins thanks to the extensive training that the team of surgeons has been able to perform in VR. The team used to meet in VR to visualize the situation and rehearse the procedure, which then was carried on in the real world by a 100-people medical team over a time span of 27 hours.
The kids are now ok and they are recovering. What a great piece of news!
Meta wants to help developers in creating hand-tracked experiences
Meta has just released on App Lab “First Hand”, a demo application that shows an example of the implementation of proper hand tracking interactions. The application is open source, so developers can have a look at the code and be inspired (i.e. copy-paste) on how to implement hand tracking in their own experiences.
At the same time, the developers of Myst have released on Road To VR a guest post about how they properly implemented a hand tracking interface in Unreal Engine for their game. A post worth reading.
Red Matter 2 promises to be an astonishing game
Road To VR journalists have been able to publish a preview post about Red Matter 2. And from what they say, this game can truly set a new standard for graphics on Quest 2: the game seems to be even better than some PC VR games! I can’t wait for the 18th, so I can play it, too.
Some news on content
- CCP is shutting down Eve: Valkyrie and Sparc forever
- Among Us VR beta signups are now available, with playtesting of the game beginning “within a few days.”
- Sword fighting VR game Swords of Gargantua will become unavailable to play after September, 30th. What a sad piece of news
- Pianovision, an app to teach you to play the piano in passthrough AR, has been released on App Lab with a set of improvements
AIXR has shortlisted the people and companies that will be the finalists for the VR Awards 2022. See who they are and prepare to root for them
Road To VR has made a list of the new prices of all the official Quest accessories, whose price has raised together with the one of the headset
Tinder had once a project to create the “Tinderverse” (OMG), but due to the adverse economic conditions, it has been shelved (thank God)
It seems that VR gamers can’t wishlist AppLab games on the Quest store. This is not good for us indies…
Move.ai is an interesting startup providing mocap for multiple people in the same space, without requiring them to wear any sensor
News from partners (and friends)
Support Max Noir!
My friend Max Noir is still thriving in trying to create an XR ecosystem in Uganda. If you want, you can support her effort by donating to her Patreon page! Let’s help her in making XR more inclusive.
Some XR fun
Let’s open SteamVR menu… oh no
Accurate depiction of some startuppers out there…
Donate for good
Like last week, also this week in this final paragraph I won’t ask you to donate for my blog, but to the poor people that 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
- 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
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- Raghu Bathina
- Jennifer Granger
- Jason Moore
- Steve Biggs
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- Jan Schroeder
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- Sikaar Keita
- Ramin Assadollahi
- Juan Sotelo
- Andrew Sheldon
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- 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
- Enrico Poli
- Vooiage Technologies
- Liam James O’Malley
- Hillary Charnas
- Wil Stevens
- Brian Peiris
- Francesco Salizzoni
- Alan Smithson
- Steve R
- Matias Nassi
And now here you are the link to donate:
(Header image by Xiaomi)
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