The XR Week Peek (2023.11.01 + 2023.11.08): Pico performs layoffs, Nimo announces AR glasses, and more!

I’m back. The big crunch is over and the result has been the launch of a new version of the VRROOM application together with an amazing concert by the American rapper Armani White. Sorry for disappearing for so long, but it was necessary to ensure the success of the whole VRROOM team.
 Today I can’t rest, either, because I’m attending the On|Metaverse Summit, the event in Milan about XR/Web3/metaverse that I’m co-organizing. It will be another fascinating day where I hope to meet new interesting people.
 I’m sorry for missing last week’s edition of the newsletter and for this one being published late. But don’t have any FOMO: in this week’s edition, you will find news for both weeks that passed by since the last episode I published. It means you won’t miss any XR news. But since I’m still very busy and I have to publish a newsletter with two weeks’ worth of content, today I will keep the text commentary at a bare minimum and just report the news. From the next week, the newsletter will be back to normal, instead. Thanks for your understanding!

Top news of the week

(Image by Pico)

Pico performs layoffs

It seems that the news about Bytedance shutting down Pico was not true, but it is true that Bytedance is reducing its investment in Pico. The company is performing various layoffs and also merging part of the Pico software divisions together with their Bytedance counterparts. Some magazines talked about thousands of people laid off, but Bytedance refuted that the scale of the operation was that big.
 The reasons for the layoffs are the expected ones: the economic conditions are bad, and the XR ecosystem is growing more slowly than expected. But the good news, in this bad news, is that Pico is still in business. And it is important because we need competition in our space.

More info (Pico performing major layoffs — Road To VR)
More info (Pico performing major layoffs — Upload VR)
More info (Leaked statement of Pico president)
More info (Scale of layoff may be smaller than initially thought)

Other relevant news

(Image by Nimo)

Nimo launches AR glasses for productivity

Nimo is a startup that has just launched a system composed of AR glasses and a compute puck to be used for productivity. The use case is similar to other systems that are becoming popular now: give the user a big virtual display in front of him. The puck of the Nimo runs on top of a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR 2 (Gen 1) and it is used both as a computation unit and as a controller. Nimo can stream the view from your computer, or it can run applications on its own. It looks like a cool gadget.
 Nimo 1 is now available to preorder for $1299.

More info

Some news about Apple Vision Pro

The news and rumors about Vision Pro never end. In these two weeks, we got to discover that Apple is planning to organize demo sessions of Vision Pro inside the Apple Store venues and that in the beginning, the only way to buy a Vision Pro will be going to an Apple Store.
 There are rumors also about Apple thinking about using the Vision Pro for health and fitness. Fitness is the low-hanging fruit if you think about Apple Fitness+, but the problem is understanding if Apple can perform full body tracking using Vision Pro’s cameras. It seems that it still hasn’t succeeded in the task, but it is still trying. Health is a strong sector for Apple (see what it does for the Watch), and it seems that using Vision Pro’s cameras pointing at the eyes, it is possible to detect various illnesses of the users. This can be very useful, but also a bit creepy on the privacy side.
 Apple is already working on future technologies for its headset, and one of the rumors that popped out is that it is working on a next-generation technology to ensure a long duration of the battery of its device.

More info (Apple Vision Pro in Apple Stores)
More info (Apple Vision Pro may be sold only inside Apple Stores)
More info (Apple’s early work on full body tracking failed)
More info (Apple still working on full body tracking)
More info (Apple exploring health-related uses of Vision Pro)
More info (Apple working on next-generation battery)

Qualcomm is working on a new chipset

Qualcomm’s GM & VP of XR Hugo Swart at Snapdragon Summit 2023 last week unveiled that the company plans to unveil a next-generation XR chip in the first quarter of 2024. This is huge news because all the most popular XR headsets that are on the market are based on Qualcomm’s reference designs, so here we are talking about a technology that will pave the way to the next generation of XR headsets.
 It is not clear what this chipset will be, considering that the XR2 Gen 2 chipset, contained in Quest 3, has just been launched. Upload’s David Heaney speculates it may be an XR3 product made to create powerful headsets that can compete with the Apple Vision Pro, and I think it is a reasonable prediction.

More info

News worth a mention

(Image by Ready At Dawn)

A mod resurrects Echo VR, sort of

A mod for the PC version of Echo VR makes the application work with custom online servers. This means that PCVR people can play the game again. There are many limitations to this mod, plus the application is not on sale anymore so only existing players can mod it, but it made me smile the idea that the community managed to restore the game in a way 🙂

More info

Meta Reality Lab’s revenues dropped in Q3

In Q3 2023, Meta had its lowest revenues for Reality Labs. This is due to the Quest 2 arriving at the end of its cycle. We are all waiting to see what will happen in Q4 with Quest 3 and the Christmas Holidays.

More info (Meta’s losses in 2023)
More info (Meta expecting even higher losses in 2024)

Quest 3 enters the Steam chart at 0.15%

Meta Quest 3 appeared for the first time in Steam’s Hardware Survey, with a 0.15% share of the market. While there are a lot of caveats around this number, I think that it’s still an indicator of the fact that this headset has not taken off yet.

More info

VDXR seems to be a better OpenXR runtime than SteamVR

A single developer has created an OpenXR-compliant opensource runtime for PC that is more performant and more standard-compliant than SteamVR. Its name is VDXR. Virtual Desktop is already integrating it in its new version.

More info (VDXR performances)
More info (Virtual Desktop integrates VDXR)

XREAL releases Xreal Air 2

XREAL is starting to sell its XREL Air 2 smartglasses, which are a linear evolution of the successful Air 1 model. The Air 2 and Air 2 Pro will ship starting at $399 and $449 starting in November in selected countries, with preorders open now.

More info

Rayban Meta review

I’ve found on The Verge a very long and detailed hands-on review of the Rayban Meta smartglasses. It seems the journalist liked them.

More info

Google may still be working at Project Iris

Some months ago a rumor claimed that Google had stopped working on Project Iris, its project devoted to the creation of augmented reality glasses. But a new data mining revealed that new strings mentioning Iris have appeared in Android. So maybe the project has not been totally disposed of…

More info

Meta is investigating controllers’ tracking issues

It seems that some people complained about the tracking of the controllers of Quest 3, especially for games requiring very fast movements of the controllers. Meta is investigating the topic.

More info

FCC approves superfast Wi-Fi

The FCC has just approved the usage of a wider band of the 6GHz spectrum to be used by local Wi-Fis. This is going to be used by companies to create very fast local wireless connections, which can be used for wireless “tethering” of lightweight XR devices to local compute units.

More info

Scientists invent touch-less cold sensations

Some researchers have found a way to recreate the sensation of cold on the hands without requiring the user to wear any device, but by just blowing air on them. The cool thing is that this sensation of cold is just a sensation and doesn’t actually change the temperature of the skin.

More info

Some useful info for Quest developers

If you are a Quest developer like me, you may find interesting that:

  • Now it’s possible to share particular builds of a Quest app on the Quest Store/App Lab for beta testing via a link
  • Meta Quest integration package for Unity is now shared via UPM and not the Asset Store anymore

More info (Quest beta URL sharing)
More info (Quest package shared via UPM)

Valve released SteamVR 2.0

SteamVR 2.0 is now live for everyone. It offers a better interface than the previous version.

More info

Asgard’s Wrath 2 received enthusiastic previews

Both IGN and Upload had a preview of Asgard’s Wrath 2 and both magazines praised the game for its size (more than 60 hours of playtime) and quality (the 3d assets are amazing). Some journalists even talked about this game being the Half-Life: Alyx of standalone VR.

More info (New teased features of Asgard’s Wrath)
More info (IGN hands-on Asgard’s Wrath 2)
More info (Upload hands-on Asgard’s Wrath 2)

Some news on content

Here below you find the link to the most relevant news about content that I found during these two weeks!

Release date of Stride: Fates
New gameplay video for Arizona: Sunshine 2
Rolling Stones pack for Beat Saber
Trailer and Release date for Silent Slayer. I particularly liked it.
Sniper Elite gets new game on Quest
Release Date of Ziggy’s Cosmic Adventure
Space Salvage released
Lucas Rizzotto’s Pillow released
Drum experience Paradiddle’s release date announced
VR adventure Epyka announced for 2024

Some reviews on content

Here below you find the link to the most relevant reviews about content that I found during these two weeks!

GhostBuster’s VR had some launch issues
Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord reviewed by Road To VR
Vampire: The Masquerade — Justice reviewed by Road To VR
Underdogs reviewed by Road To VR
Underdogs reviewed by Upload VR
Powerwash Simulator reviewed by Upload VR

Other news

New interesting technology for haptic feedback

Learn more

Exit-Suit hands-on

Learn more

Shooting 3D pictures with Quest 3

Learn more

Vive XR Elite just got an important software update

Learn more

CityXR lets you design augmentations at the city level

Learn more

Meta is gradually merging Horizon into the Quest runtime

Learn more

Meta asked Google to put the Play Store on Quest. Google said no

Learn more

Google Maps just got an interesting update

Learn more

HTC sent some headsets to the space station to improve the mental health of astronauts

Learn more

News from partners (and friends)

Discover Our Next Reality

“Our Next Reality” is the upcoming book by two epic guys of our ecosystem: The HTC Executive “Mister President” Alvin Wang Graylin and the long-time AR pioneer Louis Rosenberg. This is for sure going to be something interesting to read. The book is coming in March, 2024, but can already be preordered on Amazon.
Learn more

Just Hoops in MR

My friends at Just Hoops added a new mixed reality mode for the game on Quest 3! To celebrate, they are sharing some keys of the game with my community! As usual, first come, first served:
 If you didn’t manage to grab a key, consider buying the game using the links below!
Buy the game on Steam
Buy the game on Meta Quest Store

Pop Quest Adventure

The esteemed community member Jake Donaldson has just finished his game Pop Quest Adventure and published it on the Meta Quest Store. In this game you can… basically pop everything!
Discover the game on Meta Quest Store

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

First time?
Funny link

How to convert your Quest 2 into a Quest 3
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
  • Pieter Siekerman
  • Enrico Poli
  • Vooiage Technologies
  • Caroline
  • Liam James O’Malley
  • Hillary Charnas
  • Wil Stevens
  • Brian Peiris
  • Francesco Salizzoni
  • Dimo Pepelyashev
  • 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 Nimo)

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