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A look at an “audio-reactive world” provided by Soundscape VR.
A look at an “audio-reactive world” provided by Soundscape VR.

This Week in ARExperience

January 13, 2022 by Jon Jaehnig
  • An update to browser-based immersive platform FRAME includes a polling feature, improved hand tracking in VR, asset and effects libraries, and expanding room limits.
  • SimulaVR’s Simula One Headset is expected to open a Kickstarter in the coming weeks, according to reporting by RoadtoVR. The stand-alone headset is built for office use and runs on Linux.
  • Vuzix announced the Shield smart glasses, a return to consumer accessible products from the enterprise-focused company. While the glasses are available outside of enterprise with a price tag (just) under $2k, the glasses are still marketed toward remote work applications like conferencing.
  • Hardware-agnostic browser-based XR company 8th Wall announced new hires this week, including Ads Technical Program Manager Kaci Lambeth and Software Engineer Brandon Nguyen.
  • Space Metaverse announced the closing of a $7M funding round led by a number of industry organizations including blockchain gaming studio Dapper Labs. As exciting as the funding round is, Space Metaverse will face the obstacle of distinguishing itself in an increasingly crowded arena.
  • “Musical Metaverse” Soundscape VR has announced product updates including new avatar customization features and new music, including tracks from Evanescence. SVR is a free platform on SteamVR and Quest, and is built around social “audio-reactive worlds.”
  • The University of Cambridge has partnered with LA-based XR education company GigXR to create holographic medical simulations for medical students and continuing education.
  • Open-World VR MMO RPG Zenith: The Last City is rumored to be launching later this month. If word on the street is true, the project is only slightly delayed from an initial 2021 launch plan. The ambitious project is set to be released on SteamVR, Oculus, and PS VR.

It’s hard to distill a single trend from this week’s news. Social VR is definitely one direction given the news from FRAME, Space Metaverse, Soundscape VR, and Zenith. 

Zenith could be its own conversation as many have expressed concern in the future of AAA VR titles being potentially limited to PS VR as  this particular headset comes with the PlayStation markets and community baked-in. Seeing a project with the scope of Zenith launch on PS VR as well other devices and marketplaces definitely bodes well for VR gamers inside and outside of the Sony community.

Enterprise AR with a focus on remote presence is just as visible in this news cycle through Simula, Care AR, GigXR, and the Vuzix release – which is arguably a “prosumer” product. If seen in that light, the project isn’t dissimilar to recent moves from enterprise-only VR manufacturers like VIVE and Varjo. 

While still priced outside of the availability of many, this middle-market products do help to expand availability and gives the companies more capital to play with as they potentially eye more affordable consumer projects in the future.