April 13, 2024

A lot of things are happening around me. But today’s article is not about me, but about the best tech news, so let me tell you what pieces of XR news I’ve selected this week!
 (Before we start, in case you missed my post with my predictions for XR in 2024, you can still read it at this link!)

Top news of the week

(Image by Meta)

Meta and LG officially confirm their partnership

In the end, the rumor was true: Mark Zuckerberg was in South Korea to start a new partnership with LG. The official communication by LG states that “the fusion of Meta’s diverse core technological elements with LG’s cutting-edge product and quality capabilities promises significant synergies in next-gen XR device development.”. This seems to hint that the two companies are going to build a new XR headset together, which according to the rumors will be the Quest Pro 2, which would be aimed at competing directly with the Apple Vision Pro.
 LG also stated that “LG envisions that by bringing together Meta’s platform with its own content/service capabilities from its TV business, a distinctive ecosystem can be forged in the XR domain, which is one of the company’s new business areas.” This makes us think that somehow LG is going to provide the content available on its smart TVs to the Meta Quest. This could be useful to let Meta answer to the movies available on the Apple Vision Pro because of Apple TV.
 This partnership is very interesting: Meta is very good as a software company, and by partnering with a company with deep expertise in manufacturing electronic devices like LG, it has a better chance of fighting with the Apple Vision Pro. It is not the first time Meta partnered with an external company for a new device and in most cases this choice paid off: both the Gear VR (Samsung) and the Oculus Go (Xiaomi) were pretty good products. But will it be enough now to beat Apple?

More info (Meta and LG’s partnership — Road To VR)
More info (Meta and LG’s partnership — Upload VR)

Other relevant news

(Image by Meta)

A prototype of Meta AR glasses to be showcased at Connect

A report from Business Insider claims that Meta is going to show the first version of its AR glasses this year at Meta Connect. This is coherent with Meta CTO’s claims that this year some AR glasses for internal use will be ready.
 These glasses won’t be for commercial use, but will just be demoed internally in the company and externally at Connect, to show the direction that Meta has for what concerns AR glasses. According to the rumors, these glasses, which are codenamed Orion, feature micro-LED screens and silicon carbide waveguides, necessary for achieving a high field of view of 70° (which is a lot for the current state of technology). Only around 1,000 units are expected to be manufactured. The next edition of the glasses, codenamed Artemis, is instead meant for commercial distribution, but this should not come before 2027, according to some leaked documents.
 Seeing some AR glasses at this Connect would already be very cool. It would mark the beginning of the race towards AR glasses, which are the next technological paradigm.
 Ah, a little curious thing to end this piece of news: do you remember the picture that Zuck shared a few days ago about him working at a desk with some headsets around him? According to the report on Business Insider, among the various Ray-Ban Smartglasses, on the desk, there are also a few prototypes of the Orion AR glasses in plain sight!

More info (Meta to showcase its AR glasses at Connect)
More info (Meta to have Orion glasses ready this year)
More info (Zuck at the desk with glasses around him)

Meta refused to use Android XR operating system

According to a report from The Information, Google proposed Meta to use its upcoming Android XR operating system in its Meta Quest headsets, but Meta refused. Google has great expertise in building operating systems, plus its Google Play store would have let Meta Quest become compatible with all its Android Apps out of the box. So at first sight this seems a great deal. But if you remember well, Mark Zuckerberg entered so aggressively the XR market so that he could have full control of the XR platform, without having to respect the rules imposed by the stores and the OSes from Google and Apple, so he could not accept this proposal.
 As we saw a few weeks ago, Meta proposed to integrate only the Play Store into its devices, but Google refused, probably not to give a strategic advantage to a competitor not using its own operating system. Basically, both companies are accusing the other part of “fragmenting the VR ecosystem”: Google advocates that its Android XR can unify all non-Apple devices, while Meta answers that it has already a very good platform and if Google wants, can simply join it with its store. The truth is: no one cares about the VR ecosystem, both of them are just following their own interest in dominating the market and blame the other because it is not bending to that.

More info (Meta refused Android XR — Road To VR)
More info (Meta refused Android XR — Upload VR)
More info (Boz accuses Google for fragmenting the XR market)

Apple to accelerate Apple Vision Pro production

Even if the hype is deflating, we keep having many pieces of news about the Vision Pro every week. Let me tell you about the ones that I’ve read.
 The most important piece of news is about a new report from Ming-Chi Kuo. The report claims that the sales of the Vision Pro exceeded Apple’s expectations, so Apple is speeding up its execution plans for Vision Pro. It seems that thanks to some small suppliers, it managed to increase yearly production capacity from 500,000 units/year to around 700,000–800,000. It is also expected that the device will be shipped to more countries faster than expected, and so before the upcoming WWDC.
 Regarding the next Vision device, Kuo says that the “cheaper model” is still in the talks, but things have sped up for what concerns the Vision Pro 2, for which the priority is making it smaller, lighter, and with easier production processes. Given the production timeline, this Vision Pro successor could launch in the first half of 2026.
 Kuo also claims that the returned Vision Pros are around 1% of the sold units, so the media alarmism about many people returning their Vision Pro was just to get clicks on the articles.

More info (Apple increased production capacity of the Vision Pro)
More info (Rumors on Apple Vision Pro 2)

Karl Guttag is keeping analyzing the Apple Vision Pro and discovered that while for many aspects it is a better device with better visuals, its optics are blurrier and feature a lower contrast than the ones of Meta Quest 3. Add also this info to the comparison between the two devices.

More info (Karl Guttag’s analysis)

Regarding the content, there are a few interesting things to talk about. Apple is bringing the magic of MLS (Major League Soccer) to Vision Pro: “[…] 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs with the first-ever sports film captured in Apple Immersive Video. Viewers will feel every heart-pounding moment in 8K 3D with a 180-degree field of view and Spatial Audio that transports them to each match”. I see that at Cupertino they are making good use of the technology acquired together with NextVR.
 Many facilities are also coming to the Store: there is now an app to type text on your iPhone and then “paste it” on the Vision Pro. Another app, called SplitScreen, adds support for multiple Mac desktops in the screen mirroring on the Vision Pro.
 On the gaming side, Proton Pulse, which was a VR game already at the Oculus DK1 time, is currently one of the most interesting VR games on the Vision Pro. And a guy created a special app that lets you see your room as if it were in the Matrix, with all the green letters falling down. It’s super cool and the video went viral. It also triggered some memories in me, because I tried to do something similar in 2019 on the Vive Focus Plus, but it was too early, and the result was a very simple app with green letters… it’s cool to see that now the tech is ready for what we envisioned at that time…

More info (Major League Soccer on Vision Pro)
More info (Proton Pulse — Road To VR)
More info (Proton Pulse — Upload VR)
More info (Typing on Vision Pro with iPhone)
More info (Splitscreen app)
More info (Matrix room app)
More info (The Matrix room app I did on the Focus+)

Apple also announced that it’s bringing a new show to Apple TV+ based on William Gibson’s cyberpunk novel Neuromancer, which is one of the most loved books among XR enthusiasts. This is going to create more awareness around virtual reality.

More info (Neuromancer)

Last week I told you about the possible enterprise uses of the Apple Vision Pro and this week Lufthansa announced that it is experimenting with the use of the Vision Pro to train its airline crew.

More info (Lufthansa and Vision Pro)

On the folklore side, a guy made his wedding photos with the Vision Pro on. Looking at the face of his wife, I can tell you that someone had not had sex that wedding night.

More info (Wedding with the Vision Pro)

Sony announces many layoffs

Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan announced that the company is laying off 900 PlayStation employees. These layoffs include people at Firesprite, the studio behind Horizon Call Of The Mountain, and the entire shutdown of PlayStation’s London Studio, the one which created Blood & Truth for the original PSVR. In an interesting analysis on GameIndustry.biz (thanks Rob for pointing me out to it), you can read that probably the delays on the content developed for the device, together with the too many acquisitions that still haven’t produced a hit piece of content, may have been a good part of the reason why Sony had to reduce its internal expenses.
 This is another problem for the already tricky situation of PSVR 2: if PS5 has a content problem in general, this is going to have ripple effects for the niche PSVR 2. Plus, if Sony PlayStation is in financial trouble, it will focus more on its core business, that is PS5, and will reduce the expenses on experimental projects like PSVR 2. There is a reason why every week I read an editorial about the troubled destiny of PSVR 2…

More info (Sony PlayStation lays off 900 people — Road To VR)
More info (Sony PlayStation lays off 900 people — The Verge)
More info (GamesIndustry.biz’s editorial on the layoffs)
More info (IGN’s editorial on the troubled destiny of PSVR 2)

News worth a mention

(Image by Oppo)

OPPO Air Glass 3 has been the best XR gadget at MWC

All the XR articles about XR at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona mention the Oppo Air Glass 3, the latest smartglasses by the Chinese manufacturer Oppo. They are very bright thanks to a 1000 nits display, very lightweight, and connected with OPPO’s AndesGPT for generative AI capabilities. All the articles I’ve read from MWC have positive things to say about this headset: it looks like very big standard glasses and it works pretty well. But these glasses are unluckily not a product yet, but still a prototype built by Oppo on its road towards augmented reality (and that’s a pity, considering the good feedback the device got in Barcelona).
 OPPO Air Glass 3 were not the only smartglasses there: XREAL was showcasing its Air 2 Ultra and Viture its Viture One glasses.

More info (Oppo unveils Air Glass 3)
More info (Picture showcasing the size of Air Glass 3)
More info (Smartglasses at MWC 2024)

Meta starts collecting data from Quest users

These days Meta is informing its users that from the next update, the company won’t only collect data to make the headsets work properly, but will also start gathering “anonymized data about our device usage”. This is clearly the beginning of the end, with Meta starting to get data from all the Quests out there and probably use it on one side to train its AI systems and on the other for its advertisement business. And in both cases, this is not good: I don’t want Zuck to know all the kinky things I watch on SLR…

More info

Meta to delete the Oculus accounts

As it was announced a few years ago, Meta is going to delete now all the Oculus accounts of people who have not migrated to a Meta account. If you have not migrated yet, and you are reading this message, well, my suggestion is to do it, or you will lose access to your Meta device.

More info

Qualcomm is reducing its gap with Apple

A leaked Geekbench 6 result for the upcoming Snapdragon X Elite shows the Qualcomm CPU performing better than the Ryzen 9 7940HS — AMD’s flagship laptop APU. If the tests are genuine, it would mean that this is one of two other CPUs in the world able to compete with midrange x86 chips (the other being Apple’s M3). Considering that Qualcomm makes chipsets for XR headsets and that Apple showed that its M series can be a good match for XR headsets, the fact that Qualcomm is approaching the performances of a M chipset is absolutely interesting…

More info

Meta introduces a Catalog for its Quest Plus subscription

Meta is adding a catalog of games you can play immediately the moment you subscribe to Quest Plus, so you don’t have to wait several months before having enough games to play. The Catalog changes over time and these are the titles available in March (courtesy of Upload VR):

  • A Township Tale
  • Demeo
  • Espire 1: VR Operative
  • Fruit Ninja
  • Hand Physics Lab
  • Jurassic World Aftermath Collection
  • Moss
  • Onward
  • Red Matter
  • Sports Scramble
  • The Climb
  • Until You Fall
  • Walkabout Mini Golf

More info

Realwear unveils Navigator Z1 at MWC

Realwear, which is one of the leading players in the enterprise smartglasses industry, revealed at MWC its new device, the Realwear Z1, which features a thermal camera made by FLIR. This allows frontline workers to share streamlined workflows and real-time thermal insights that help make informed decisions in high-risk environments.

More info

Some info about content

  • Team Beef is porting the original Tomb Raider to Pico and Quest headsets
  • Caveman Studio released the open beta of Contractors Showdown, its upcoming battle royale game for Quest and SteamVR headsets
  • Beat Games has teased a Daft Punk DLC for Beat Saber
  • The Free-To-Play version of VRMMO Zenith has launched this week, with a mixed reception from the community
  • EA Sports’ F1 24 is coming to PC on May 31. It features a VR mode like the past editions
  • Rock and Roots, a new VR fantasy adventure, has been released on Steam
  • An experience replicating the Survivor reality show is coming to Meta Horizon Worlds
  • Rhythm game Beat The Beats landed on App Lab with a demo
  • Upload has described some minor VR content news in its weekly ICYMI column

More info (Tomb Raider)
More info (Contractors Showdown)
More info (Beat Saber)
More info (Zenith)
More info (F1 24)
More info (Rock And Roots)
More info (Survivor)
More info (Beat The Beats)
More info (ICYMI)

Some reviews about content

  • Upload reviewed Beat The Beats and gave it a pretty good score, appreciating not only its aesthetics and gameplay but also the great sense of rhythm this game gives to the player. This is not just the nth Beat Saber clone

More info (Beat The Beats)

Other news

His Majesty Hugo Swart leaves Qualcomm after having led its XR efforts. Good luck to him for his next adventure

Learn more

Supermassive Games is laying off 90 employees

Learn more

Astronauts are exercising on the Space Station using the Vive Focus 3, overcoming the tracking issues

Learn more

Apple is canceling its Car project, after many years spent on it

Learn more

There is an emulator for the Nintendo Virtual Boy running on the Nintendo 3DS

Learn more

Shader is a tool to easily create AR filters thanks to AI prompts

Learn more

At MWC, HTC has unveiled the Vive XR Elite Business Edition

Learn more

iVRy is going to release its unofficial SteamVR driver for PSVR 2

Learn more

News from partners (and friends)

Back to the Mixed Reality

Tevfik Ufuk has developed an experience dubbed “Back to the Mixed Reality”, that lets you don your Quest 3 and drive the iconic DeLorean in mixed reality and make it travel to the future. A build is available for free and from the videos it seems a very cool experimental app.
Learn more

Strike Rush is an upcoming VR action shooter

Korean studio Skonec is going to release Strike Rush, a 4 vs 4 team-based VR shooter game set in cyberpunk-styled battlefields. The game is going to be officially released on April 18, 2024, and a pre-release test is going to happen next week on March, 11th. You can discover more about this upcoming cool game and join its beta test using the links below!
Visit Website
Join the Pre-Release test (via Discord)

Some XR fun

Living the time of his life with the Quest 3, Dune, and… something else
Funny link

Zuck is back at getting our data!
Funny link

Donate for good

Like last week, also this week in this final paragraph I won’t ask you to donate to my blog, but to the poor people who 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
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  • Reynaldo T Zabala
  • Richard Penny
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  • Steve R
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  • 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 OPPO)

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