Happy Birthday Pong! The revered Atari game turned 50 this week. Its story began on Magnavox’s Odyssey in 1972. Through many iterations, clones, and continuations, Pong remains a seminal and iconic video game. Due to its cultural impact, the game is part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
The Meta schadenfreude appears to have died this week, despite being hit with a $275 million fine for violating European data privacy laws. The penalty, imposed by Irish regulators, brings total European fines to more than $900 million since last year. Some analysts have suggested that the stock has fallen so far, it is now a good deal.
Sony enters the Metaverse with ‘Mocopi’ motion tracking system The Mocopi app allows content creators to capture subjects wearing six motion tracking bands. Capture can be used to animate avatars in a game or in a simulation like VR Chat. This will free V-Tubers from the constraints of time and location and allow real-time navigation for animation that can be used anywhere. Mocopi with six bands costs $350. Importantly, on December 15, Sony will release a Mocopi SDK to allow developers to integrate captured content with the Unity game engine and Autodesk MotionBuilder’s animation/mocap application.
Sony acquires 3D animation company Beyond Sports for $70 million This technology, integrated with previously acquired Hawk-Eye innovations, allows Sony to capture and translate real-time data from professional basketball, baseball, tennis and soccer games and turn it into animation. This would create a new spatial way of consuming sports content that could be viewed from any angle, including on the pitch, or in god mode, and shared with other concurrent users. Sony calls it a “metaverse representation” of the game. We wrote about similar technology we saw in the lab in 2018. The acquisition is estimated by analysts at $70 million.
Common Ground raises $25 million for TrueSelf Scan creative app on iPhone. The app enables photorealistic video conferencing. Users can scan themselves and then invite participants to a meeting, where each participant’s avatar sits around a virtual table, mirroring (via their computer’s camera) each user’s facial expressions and critical body language . The round was led by Marius Nacht, one of Israel’s leading serial tech entrepreneurs, and also includes Matrix Partners, Grove Ventures and StageOne Ventures, bringing the Israeli company’s total raise to $45 million.
The BeFake application uses a stable broadcast to create different versions of you. BeFake is the first mobile application that allows you to use the latest stable AI casting model on faces. Users can use AI to become a superhero, cartoon, paint – anything. BeFake adjusts billions of parameters in the app focusing on your face. All that power costs you just $6. The app was developed by a team of three – Alfred Wahlforss, Florian Juengermann and Axel Backlund – in two weeks. I gave them a hard time about the six bucks, but they say it requires ridiculous processing power, which creates a huge hosting bill. Look at this picture and tell me it wasn’t worth six dollars. You can find BeFake on the App Store
BAE and Red 6 will integrate AR into Hawk Trainer If the company behind the new AR training for real pilots in real fighters was hotter, it would burn this page. Virtually. BAE Systems and Red 6 announced at I/ITSEC in Orlando that they will “explore” the integration of Red 6’s Advanced Tactical Augmented Reality Systems (ATARS) systems on the Hawk fast jet trainer.
Disney’s new neural network can easily change an actor’s age Disney has just published an academic article, Production-ready facial re-aging for visual effects which shows how machine learning can be used to age or age a performer in a film. After Benjamin Button and DeNiro’s de-aging in The Irishman I thought we could already do it, and we can, but by applying thousands of hours of work. This way, everything is automatic.
Mozilla acquires Startups Pulse and Active Replica, introduces Hubs subscription tier. Active Replica of Vancouver is a virtual events company specializing in custom site design, event planning, live entertainment and technical support. Active co-founders Jacob Ervin and Valerian Denis are now Senior Engineering Manager and Product Lead respectively. Hubs now offers a $20/month subscription that lets you get your own dedicated Hub for up to 25 people, environments, avatars and theme packs, and 2GB of asset storage. Pulse, also based in Canada, provides automated status update integrations for Slack.
On the occasion of its first “Meta-verse”, Forever 21 launches its first-ever virtual-physical crossover F21 Metaverse Collection, with actual hoodies and t-shirts matching the brand’s virtual offerings on Roblox. This limited edition F21 Metaverse Collection will be available in-store and online, with products starting at $14.99. Producer VBG has also created successful Metaverse experiences for Barbie/Mattel and most recently, The Voice!
Step into the ancient Egypt of Ramses the Great with a dazzling immersive tour “Beyond King Tut.” The immersive exhibit, curated by National Geographic, features a City Lights VR experience titled “Tutankhamun, Enter the Tomb,” which is experienced in a Positron haptic chair. CNet reviewer Leslie Katz said “Comfortable armchairs that twist, turn and shake make it almost impossible to believe you’re not actually floating through the entrance to Abu Simbel’s massive rock-cut temples.” . Learn more about how to see the exhibit in LA, NY, or SF.
This week in XR is also a podcast hosted by the author of this column, Ted Schilowitz, head of future technologies at Paramount Global, and Rony Abovitz, founder of Magic Leap. We can be found on Spotify, itunesand Youtube.
What we read
‘Extinction is on the table’: Jaron Lanier warns of technology’s existential threat to humanity (The Guardian)
What are all these “chief officers of the metaverse” actually doing? (Alex Fitzpatrick/Axios)
This week at Schadenfreude
Metaverse occurs without permission from Meta (Alex Herrity/Coin Telegraph)
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