This Week in ARExperience
July 7, 2022 by Jon Jaehnig
- Finnish headset manufacturer Varjo released a free eBook detailing the use of eye-tracking-enabled XR headsets for research. The publication comes about one month after the announcement that Varjo is working closely with OpenBCI, a company that makes sensors for studying neuroscience.
- Varjo headsets have been capable of eye-tracking for some time, as the technology helps their headsets to optimize display. Their work on the Galea headset with OpenBCI is research focused putting it in competition with HP’s G2 Reverb Omnicept Edition – While Galea will be much more capable, it will also likely be much more expensive.
- Forbes reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating ByteDance for “deception.” This wouldn’t be XR news except for the fact that ByteDance recently acquired VR headset manufacturer Pico.
- Pico isn’t currently one of the biggest names in VR in the States because it is currently limited to the enterprise market. However, its flagship headset retooled for consumers recently launched in the U.K. and is expected to launch in the U.S. shortly where it may be a competitor for Meta – the megacorporation formerly known as Facebook.
- Road to VR reported that rhythm game Beat Saber earned nearly $100M last year. The game has been a slow-burn viral fever for years as gamers share mixed reality videos of themselves playing the game. As a poster child for VR entertainment, the success of the game has been closely tied with the rise in affordable consumer headsets.
- Monaverse announced via VentureBeat that the company has just closed a $14.6M funding round led by a mix of major companies and angel investors including Protocol Labs, OpenSea Ventures, Polygon Studios, and the Venture Reality Fund. The platform makes it easy and affordable for creators to make virtual spaces for social gatherings, art, and performance.
- Fun Fact, the Venture Reality Fund also backs Beat Games and Varjo.
- XR Pioneer Avi Bar-Zeev tweeted that he is preparing the second edition of his “100 Original Voices in XR” list. Bar-Zeev’s original list consisted largely of creators and designers with original takes but that might not have large recognizable platforms in the way that executives and “influencers” do.
- Nathan Pettyjohn announced on LinkedIn that he is launching a new company. We don’t know anything about the company yet. However, Pettyjohn has been working with ThinkReality, Lenovo’s AR/VR division for the last few years. That’s in addition to his being the president of the VR/AR Association. So, whatever he does next will be worth watching.
Partnerships and parenthood seem to be themes today. Sometimes those partnerships are promising (Varjo x BCI) and sometimes they’re problematic (ByteDance x Pico). Mona’s funding announcement also gave us an interesting opportunity to look at the effect that patronage from a project like the Venture Reality Fund can impact not just one or two companies, but the whole ecosystem.
Then there’s all of the excitement that comes from Pettyjohn’s coming announcement. After covering the space for a while, a new company is like seeing a new character appear on a drama. Who knows what they’re going to bring along and how they’re going to interact with the established cast?