The XR Week Peek (2023.11.27): Discover XR Cyber Monday Deals, Sam Altman returns to OpenAI, and much more!

Italy won the Tennis Davis Cup, and that was pretty cool to see (the match between Sinner and Djokovic was just incredible). And talking about “cool” things (pun intended), today I’m traveling to Helsinki, Finland, where I hope to have a great time at MatchXR. Will we meet there?

Top news of the week

Discover Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts!

Today it’s the CyberMonday and there are discounts all over the place in VR and in tech in general. Here below I’m posting for you the best offers I’ve found: for instance, HTC is discounting basically every piece of hardware (including Vive Trackers that can be useful for all the VRChat fans out there), while Pico is offering one of the best deals with €100-worth-of-content given for free with every purchased Pico 4. There are also some deals about Meta Quest, in this case giving you free content credit if you buy a device. But it’s not only hardware… all the stores are giving discounts, too. Meta Quest Store this time requires you to explicitly write BFCM23 to have -40% off, while Steam is having its usual Autumn sale. Prepare your wallet for this Cyber Monday!

More info (Meta Quest 2 deals)
More info (Meta Quest 3 deals)
More info (HTC Vive deals)
More info (Pico deals)
More info (Steam sale)
More info (Star Wars Squadron deal)
More info (Synth Riders deal)
More info (Meta Quest Store deals)

Other relevant news

(Image by Sam Altman)

Sam Altman returns as CEO of OpenAI

Last weekend I told you about the OpenAI saga: the board of OpenAI fired its CEO Sam Altman, starting a series of unexpected events that we all in the community followed while eating popcorns. This week started with Sam Altman returning back to the company, de facto making things return to normal after 5 days of plot twists. The only (big) difference from before is that with the exception of one member, the board of OpenAI has now changed.
 It’s hard to comment on what happened without understanding what were the reasons that led the board to fire Altman, and that, as of today, are still not clear. Some rumors talk about the board receiving the information about a breakthrough algorithm called Q* (Q-Star) which showed the signs of being able to make maths reasonings, which would mean that it could lead towards AGI. The algorithm seemed to have been able to learn math principles and then being able to solve math problems using them, which is something that current LLMs can not do. AGI could have a general intelligence a bit like us humans, so may lead to unexpected social consequences, more than LLMs already do, so the board may have been scared by it, and may have worked towards slowing down the pace at which OpenAI is working to making sure to find the time to investigate how to use this technology in a safe way for everyone. We have no idea if this is true, but this may have some foundations because when Altman was fired, there were mentions here and there by the board about OpenAI having to slow down its commercialization.
 If this were true (and it is a HUGE if), it would show that all tentatives to slow down AI development, as some scientists proposed a few months ago, are not practically possible. If OpenAI wanted to slow down to have time to understand the consequences of this new type of AI, Microsoft would already ready be to hire all the talents of OpenAI and carry on AI developments by itself. These technologies are so important and have so much business potential (see the success of OpenAI services) that companies can not stop pursuing them because there is too much money at stake. On one side this is understandable, but on the other side, this scares me, because it shows that there will not be any responsible development of AI exactly as it has not been any responsible development of any breakthrough technology. We are going to repeat the same errors, again. And this is why, while the whole internet was cheering for the return of Altman, I was pretty scared about what it could mean.

More info (Sam Altman returns as CEO of OpenAI)
More info (The Q* algorithm could be the reason why Altman was fired)

News worth a mention

Samsung trademarks “Samsung Glasses”

Samsung has filed a trademark for “Samsung Glasses” in the UK. This may be one of the potential names for either the upcoming mixed reality headset that Samsung is developing with Google or the name of future AR glasses. We don’t know, but this shows that the Korean company is still committed to XR developments.

More info

Rokid is now a unicorn

Chinese manufacturer Rokid, who produces augmented reality glasses, just received a huge investment round of $112M to help the development of its XR products. After this investment, the evaluation of Rokid went beyond $1B, making it become one of the “unicorns” of our field.

More info

VRChat introduces paid subscriptions

The popular social VR platform VRChat has just introduced “paid subscriptions”, which will let creators create Patreon-like subscriptions for their supporters directly on the platform. While some people complained that the net amount that goes into the pockets of the creators is smaller than on Patreon, the fact that subscriptions are integrated into the platform allows creators to organize smoothly paid-only content. I think it’s a good thing to help talented creators make a living out of their VRChat creations.

More info

Discover Quest 3 and Apple Vision Pro cost estimations

A Chinese firm has tried to estimate the cost of the components of both the Quest 3 and the Apple Vision Pro. The first interesting result is that the Quest 3 is probably sold at cost, or even at a loss. The second one is that the Apple Vision Pro is so next-gen that one of its displays costs just a bit less than all the components of Quest 3! The Vision Pro seems to be sold with a margin over the components cost.

More info

Microsoft is retiring Azure Spatial Anchors

Azure Spatial Anchors was the service that let you pin AR elements in exact points of the room so that also other people around you could see the same AR content in the exact same position. It was one of the foundational features of HoloLens development. Now Microsoft is discontinuing them, putting another nail in the coffin of the HoloLens.
 (Thanks to Davy Demeyer for the tip!)

More info

Get started with Apple Vision Pro development

Unity has just released the tools to start developing for Apple Vision Pro and interested developers can already start experimenting with them. To help the devs, some content creators have already started digging into the details of this SDK. For instance, I’ve read the whole documentation and written a roundup of the most important info to know, while the amazing Dilmer Valecillos has already started making some fantastic tutorials on how to use it. If you want to start using the Apple Polyspatial SDK, start from the links below!

More info (My analysis of the Apple Vision Pro Unity SDK)
More info (Dilmer’s tutorials on the Apple Vision Pro Unity SDK)

Meta’s head of augmented reality software is stepping down

Meta’s VP of Engineering Don Box, who was tasked to lead the team in charge of developing an augmented reality operating system, has stepped down from his role. The company claims that the decision has been taken for personal reasons and that nothing in Meta’s roadmap is changing because of that. I think that if a person with that role and that experience is stepping down, some delays in the development are actually possible.

More info

Ubisoft is developing Just Dance VR with a new partner

Just Dance VR should have been the first big exclusive of the Pico platform, but with Bytedance disinvesting in consumer VR, its destiny became a bit blurry. Ubisoft has confirmed to Upload that actually, the development is going on, but with a new partner. Who will it be… Sony or Meta?

More info

Davigo is finally coming

Asymmetric action game Davigo is finally launching on November, 29th, after a long alpha period. In this game, a VR user impersonates a giant that has to smash some normal-sized avatars armed with rockets that are controlled by flatscreen PC users. This game seems very interesting and in fact, some of its GIFs went viral on many subreddits. Let’s see what will be its performances after the launch!

More info

Some news about content

  • Bandai Namco Filmwork and XR studio Atlas V have teased an experience called “Mobile Suit Gundam”, aimed at being some sort of “immersive anime”
  • Bulletstorm VR has been delayed to January 18th, 2024
  • Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted 2 is slated to be released for PSVR 2 on December 14th
  • The studio behind Shadow Legend announced a new sci-fi fantasy action adventure called “Arken Age”. It is slated to come for PSVR 2 & SteamVR
  • Tender Claws announced that Stranger Things VR is having delays on its expected launch date
  • “Wallace & Gromit Jamtastic!” is a mixed reality experience that is going to launch together with “The Grand Getaway” in Winter 2023
  • GOLF+ teased a mixed reality mini golf mode for Quest 3
  • Dragon Front Rising, a card-battler game which was available years ago for Gear VR, is back to the Meta Quest platform for $19.99

More info (Mobile Suit Gundam)
More info (Bulletstorm)
More info (Five Nights At Freddy’s)
More info (Arken Age)
More info (Stranger Things VR)
More info (Wallace And Gromit)
More info (GOLF+)
More info (Dragon Front Rising)

Other news

Fortnite Leaks reveals a new music mode and Eminem for the grand finale

Learn more (Fortnite Music Mode)
Learn more (Fortnite Finale featuring Eminem)

Mixed-Reality experience Pillow has been featured on Forbes

Learn more

See the teardowns of the Pimax Crystal and DPVR 4

Learn more (Teardown of Pimax Crystal)
Learn more (Teardown of DPVR E4)

A psychologist tries to explain the reasons behind the “Uncanny Valley” Phenomenon

Learn more

News from partners (and friends)

Gabriele Romagnoli is starting a new podcast about XR + AI

LinkedIn influencer Gabriele Romagnoli (who works at ShapesXR) is starting a new podcast series about XR and AI. And guess who is one of his first guests?
Learn more

Mindport is partnering with Cognitive3D

Mindport and Cognitive3D partnered to make it easy for developers to build better VR training simulations and get the actionable insights they need. Mindport offers an authoring tool to create training VR experiences and Cognitive3D can help in building analytics from these experiences after they have been released. This seems like a very good partnership.
Learn more

Some XR fun

Every year there is a big party at Sony Interactive Entertainment…
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
  • Christopher Boyd
  • 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 Apple)

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