The XR Week Peek (2023.10.24): Bytedance debunks the rumors about Pico, new Glassholes are a trend, and much more!

It’s been another intense working week… so this newsletter will come in a slightly reduced format again because I must be efficient with my time… but let’s say that the VR ecosystem helped me in keeping this short because this week nothing relevant happened… 😐
 I have two good pieces of news regarding myself I want to tell you:

  • Finally, in a few days, I can unveil what I have worked on (and I’m still working on) all this time!
  • I am starting today a new section of the newsletter dedicated to sponsored content! I’m always very happy to give free visibility to whoever I can in the “friends and partners” section, but if some company wants some more structured collaboration, I’m happy to provide it in this new dedicated part of the newsletter. The first sponsor that believed in me is Infomediji, which I thank from the bottom of my heart!

Top news of the week

(Image by Pico)

Pico is NOT shutting down

The drama of the week was all about Pico. A Chinese website reported that Bytedance was frustrated by the slow growth of the VR ecosystem and so decided to cut off its division working on VR hardware, that is Pico. The news was shared also among Western social VR accounts: I discovered it on Cix Liv’s Twitter/X feed, for instance.
 The news immediately sounded weird to me: Pico people are currently going to AWE, and leaks have already shown us the upcoming Pico 5… it didn’t look at all the situation of a shutting down division. In fact, in a few hours, Bytedance issued a press release stating that the rumors were absolutely false. Usually, when this happens, it means that the rumors are unfounded. If there was some truth in them, Bytedance wouldn’t have answered, or would have said something vague like “We don’t comment on future plans”. But the Chinese company said “The rumor is false”, so no one of us should worry: Pico is going to stay in business. And I’m personally happy about this.
 After this update, Cix Liv and other VR people (like the usual Brad) said that the rumor in town is actually not that Bytedance is closing Pico, but that Pico will focus mostly on MR to chase Apple with its Vision Pro and will shut down its VR business. Well, I highly doubt that Pico is closing the profitable B2B VR business, because it is indeed profitable. And regarding focusing on mixed reality on the consumers’ side, I think this is what all companies are more or less doing now, so I find it not only possible, but also pretty obvious.

More info (Rumor about Pico shutting down)
More info (Rumor debunked)
More info (Pico focusing on an Apple Vision Pro competitor)
More info (Brad confirming Pico’s interest in MR)
More info (Another user confirming Pico’s interest in MR)

Other relevant news

(Image by Meta)

Quest 3 and the new Glassholes

The trend of people going around the world with Quest 3 in passthrough mode is not stopping. This week we had our friend Cix Liv ordering a cafe in San Francisco with the Quest 3 on, while Brad Lynch went to Disneyland wearing a Quest. There are many other examples of that. The Verge started referring to them as the new “Glassholes”, the term that was invented to describe people wearing Google Glass in public, when that device was popular.
 I understand the fun of doing stuff with passthrough: when the Vive Focus came out, I did some stuff like that, too. I remember one day at Immersive Architecture with Enea Le Fons in 2018 when we played around with the Focus, and then at a certain point, he was walking with us in the central plaza of Venice (Italy) with the headset on. Everyone was looking at him like a weird guy, it was very funny. Everyone feels like a gangsta doing it now with Quest 3, but Enea and I did it when passthrough was black and white, distorted, and lagging. Bitch please 😛

More info (Examples of people using passthrough in the real world)
More info (Brad Lynch going to Disneyland with the headset on)
More info (The new Glassholes)
More info (Someone mocking the new trend with a joke)

Monster Hunter hits 10M downloads in a month

Niantic’s clone of Pokemon Go dedicated to Monster Hunter is growing strong. The game, made in collaboration with Capcom, reached an incredible amount of 10M downloads in the first month after launch and has no signs of stopping here.
 I’ve always mocked Niantic’s inability to replicate the success of Pokemon Go, but now it’s the first time I see the potential of this happening. I mean, I don’t think that Monster Hunter can reach the same level of popularity as Pokemon Go, but from these early numbers, it seems that it can be a game with a very widespread adoption that can have a very long life.
 Let’s see if this will prove to be true. More than the downloads number, what is important in these cases is the retention ratio, so a new check in 6 months will tell us the truth.

More info

News worth a mention

(Image by Xpanceo)

Xpanceo raises $40M to develop smart contact lenses

I am a huge fan of smart contact lenses… I think it’s one of the most cyberpunk ideas that tech companies are building. The most advanced company in the field was Mojo Vision, but it had to recently pivot towards microdisplay production. I thought the sector was lost because of that, but this week a piece of news shook the ecosystem: a new startup, called Xpanceo, has raised a huge amount of $40M to develop its own smart contact lens technology. This puts a smile on my face… and rest assured that I will try to talk with them as soon as I can!

More info

Virtuix Omni One is now available for preorders

Virtuix has opened the preorders of its VR treadmill Omni One to the general audience. The price for the treadmill and the accompanying Pico headset is $2,595. Shipping is expected to happen in Q2 2024.

More info

Meta is working on a system to decode the images in your brain

Meta has just published a fascinating article about a research project it is carrying on about using AI on the magnetoencephalography (MEG) visualization of brain activity to try to reconstruct from that the image that the user is watching at that moment. It sounds a bit like “reading the mind of a person to see what images he is visualizing”, but of course is much more early stage than that (and Meta is not even the only entity working on similar projects).
 What could go wrong if Meta will be able to read our minds…

More info

Learn how to design a Mixed Reality application

Road To VR has hosted a very interesting guest post by Thomas Van Bouwel, in which he details how he is designing the mixed-reality game Laser Dance to take into account the various room configurations and also the accessibility needed by the user. I found it full of interesting information.

More info

The Upload Winter Showcase is back!

Upload VR is hosting a new Showcase of VR games on December, 6th 2023. This time it is even partnering with IGN for the event. They are looking for interesting games to talk about, so if you are the creator of an XR game, do not hesitate to contact them!

More info

Ubisoft gives more details about Assassin’s Creed VR

This week we had a few interesting info about the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR. In particular, the company has shared a new gameplay trailer and has also detailed some of the choices it has taken, like why it chose Ezio, Connor, and Kassandra as the three Assassins of the game. You’ll find all the info in the links here below.

More info (Assassin’s Creed VR gameplay video)
More info (Interview with one of the creators of Assassin’s Creed VR)

VR games are getting spooky

If you are into horror, this may be your favorite moment of the year, because some VR games are adding some special modes to celebrate Halloween. Two examples that I have found in this sense are Budget Cuts and Richie’s Plank Experience.

More info (Budget Cuts’s Halloween Mode)
More info (Richie’s Plank Experience’s Halloween Mode)

Some news on content

  • Tea is Served is an interesting short comedy VR horror
  • Pavlov Shack will finally have a full store release on Quest on November 14
  • Escape from Galaxen, a game that pays homage to classic ’80s space shooters, has been released on App Lab for $6
  • Survivorman VR: The Descent, a survival simulation experience featuring Les Stroud, has been released on App Lab
  • VR drumming game Paradiddle is coming to Quest this year
  • Roguelite adventure Ironstrike is slated to come on Meta Quest on November 16 for $20.

More info (Tea Is Served)
More info (Pavlov Shack)
More info (Escape From Galaxen)
More info (Survivorman VR)
More info (Paradiddle)
More info (Ironstrike VR)

Some reviews on content

  • Tin Hearts VR looks like an enjoyable game if you are a fan of the “Lemmings” gameplay
  • Genotype is a solid sci-fi adventure, featuring very interesting bio-gloves that can generate creatures you can use as weapons. There are some things to improve on the difficulty and repeatability side, though
  • Dungeons of Eternity is one of the few games that was awarded with an ESSENTIAL badge by Upload VR. It is a must-have VR fantasy dungeon crawler with hack-n-slash combat, with also co-op.

More info (Tin Hearts VR)
More info (Genotype)
More info (Dungeons Of Eternity)

Other news

The demand for Quest 3 512GB units is higher than expected

Learn more

Quest 3 has a “microphone popping” problem

Learn more

Upload has tried Quest 3 Charging Dock and found it very cool, but also expensive

Learn more

Some people brought VR headsets to rural zones in India and amazed people there

Learn more

Someone has made the XR Interaction Toolkit work in WebXR… wow

Learn more

News from partners (and friends)

Discover Falling Down XR

Discover a world of thrilling jumps across flying platforms, wandering through a dark maze, and intense shootouts with hordes of monsters in the indie game Falling Down XR. The creators stated that they “have maximized the use of VR capabilities to make the gameplay captivating and emotional”, so hopefully this is a cool experience.
Learn more

CPR Simulator reaches version 2.0 and becomes FREE (sort of)

CPR Simulator is a VR application that teaches you how to perform CPR, potentially helping you in saving lives in case of emergencies. Now the experience has added a lot of updates and improvements, reaching version 2.0. The creators are celebrating this milestone by letting everyone use the application for free until October, 31st 2023. It does seem to me a cool opportunity to learn something that can be useful for your life…
Learn more

Infomediji Is Hiring!

Who We Are
 Push the boundaries of the virtual reality industry with us as we create a cross-platform, VR video streaming metaverse. As the team behind the DeoVR video streaming platform, there are more than 100 talented people from all over the world waiting for you to join them.
Who Are We Looking For
Product Manager
 We are seeking an innovative and hands-on Product Manager to join our fast-paced team. You will be responsible for organizing, creating, and executing a strategic roadmap for our VR products. You’ll be instrumental in coordinating various teams, understanding market trends, and driving the overall vision to ensure that we stay on the cutting edge of the VR industry.
Senior Unity Developer
 Join our Unity team and be at the forefront of innovation in the global VR video streaming ecosystem. If you’re passionate about fine-tuning Unity components and creating groundbreaking VR experiences, we want you to be a part of our team, shaping the future of immersive technology.

Backend PHP Developer (Core)

Be a vital part of our PHP Core team shaping the future of global VR video streaming. If you’re a backend wizard with a passion for VR and want to work on cutting-edge products that power immersive experiences, we’re eager to have you on board to make an impact in the exciting realm of virtual reality.

Visit Website

Some XR fun

Finally a Vision Pro I can afford
Funny link

When I started with XR, I couldn’t imagine that one day I would have read the sentence “MR Pooping is 10/10”
Funny link

I do not know why there is this obsession of mixing mixed reality with toilets…
Funny link

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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Sb
  • Enrico Poli
  • Vooiage Technologies
  • Caroline
  • Liam James O’Malley
  • Hillary Charnas
  • Wil Stevens
  • Brian Peiris
  • Francesco Salizzoni
  • Dimo Pepelyashev
  • Alan Smithson
  • Steve R
  • Brentwahn
  • Pieter Siekerman
  • 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 Meta)

Disclaimer: this blog contains advertisement and affiliate links to sustain itself. If you click on an affiliate link, I’ll be very happy because I’ll earn a small commission on your purchase. You can find my boring full disclosure here.

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