Meta’s Horizon Worlds may be the butt of many jokes these days due to disappointing graphics, a small user base, and not much you can actually do in the company’s VR meeting place. But Meta isn’t the only company that seems to think a virtual world could be key to the success of virtual reality.

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman,  Apple is also building some sort of “3D mixed-reality world” for its upcoming headset.

Here’s a roundup of recent tech news from around the web.

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  1. When VR headsets become must more like glasses and can effectively replace an array of monitors then I think we’ll definitely have one killer app for VR.
    Until then I seriously wonder how far Apple will get as I’m quite sure they will not place nice and will push far harder for lock-in than Meta has.

  2. Such a relief to hear someone call it Horizon Worlds instead of “meta’s metaverse”.

    Anyway, Apple is probably going to have just as much of a hard time getting people to use its headsets for anything but games unless it comes up with a way to create virtual screens that run desktop, or at least phone applications, easily enough to approximate a desktop or phone in terms of user comfort.
    It’s that or try to push using the same avatar for games and business, and actually hire a game studio to make whatever content you need.
    Getting people to buy and use the hardware for everyday situations would mean getting people to replace something they currently have with it, and give those who do a cool label to call themselves. It’ll be tricky, and I’d hate to see them succeed.

    1. I don’t agree.
      The futuristic things we see in movies can happen, but in a different flavour. What I see as most likely to succeed is something like this:

      Smart Visor, with large clear screen that has a low-resolution OLED (translucent) display. There’s also an electric-activated lens that makes the Visor opaque from the outside. It has all the batteries in the back-head rest for balance, with the aim for 8-hour (business day) battery life. It has running cameras and relatively modest processor, it relies mostly on Wifi to connect to your phone which does the heavy lifting. All in all, it is an expensive USD $900 toy. This is for Mixed Reality, aka AR.

      And the rollout doesn’t happen online or for people. It happens in a city by city situation, that is the smartest way to do it. Find the city which has the most revenue, start from there and work your way down. So firstly NY, then LA, London, etc etc. It will use GPS and Tracking to know where you are, and use the Gyro and Cameras to find your perspective. It will also use another small camera for your eye tracking to “float” digital information on your Visor. At first it’s things like Public Toilets, Hospitals, Police Stations, Shopping, and Walking Directions. Then it also shows other Visor users with a Username.

      As the rollout happens, we get the company putting more and more details about the city into the Visor. The corporation most adept to do this is Google, with their Street View, Maps, and Search services coming together. A very distant second-place is Apple.

      After they’ve hit the top cities around the world, then they can go mainstream with a new device that is much more affordable (USD $200). The aim is to lose money. But build out as fast as possible, and monetize later on. Just like Google did with AndroidOS, that project wasn’t really profitable until v4.1 in 2012. They can still have a “Pro” model that has a sharper display, faster processor, better gaze tracking, maybe a built-in GPS with larger battery, definitely better Build Materials, and exclusive software perks.

      We can then see Pokemon Go come to it, and make a huge splash. Or maybe some other “next big thing”. But the plan is to own the infrastructure and ecosystem that they all run on. Many of the processing requirements can be outsourced to Cloud Servers, they just need a fast 5G (or Wifi) connection to bridge it.

      I truly think that this is it. And I think Apple has the image and appeal to get the ball rolling, then they will rely on all those millions of iPhone users, and Apple Maps, to build upon the Digital World. It helps that most of that userbase will be located in the cities that have the most capital, so the rollout would be more seamless. Google is mostly incompetent so I don’t have a lot of faith in them, but when they see the writing and perhaps decide to compete, they certainly have a larger Digital World that’s already available to use.

      After the Visor, we can get smart glasses, maybe smart-windows on Luxury E-Vehicles, and even smart helmets. Or you can grab something like an iPad, open the camera and take a walk, and the App will turn it into a “Virtual Window” and show a Mixed Reality for the user.

      Zuckerberg has the wrong idea, it is not about Meta or Virtual Reality… the future is about Mixed Reality. Ironically it was Microsoft who was the first to discover this, but they’ve been sitting on it for years, just like they did with WindowsCE, their incompetence will show again as Apple and Google create a new Ecosystem. Unfortunately it will be China that is out of bounds, and will eventually lead in this market. However, anti-West nations like Russia will block such device being used (like drone flights) due to privacy concerns and political reasons. Many cities won’t get serviced due to being a low priority, mostly in Africa, South America, Middle East, and Central Asia… also they lack some of the connectivity requirements and have little financial incentives.

      1. Okay, you basically described the Microsoft HoloLens using existing Maps data. Using that for navigation might be a little more convenient than a phone, but not really compelling, since on a map view you get a better view of what streets are up ahead and pretty much everyone already knows where they want to go once they’ve left a building.
        Then you mention seeing people’s usernames. Well, that’ll be people who choose to turn on username broadcast. People will want to turn that on and off throughout the day as a matter of safety.
        Still, I suppose a city-by-city approach is one way to go about it. Because what you can do is bribe mayors and council members in a city with many languages spoken in it to replace large swathes of signs and menus with QR codes, and putting random holo-art all over the place, or using AI to mask graffiti, but if you do that, you better be selling your headset for cheap, and be prepared to pay for all the servers needed to host those things. You’ll still get backlash, but people will be hesitant to complain because no one in any other city is complaining (because no other city is going through this yet). Exactly what signs to replace where and in what order with what timing is the really tricky part, especially once you start expanding.
        Still, if you don’t want people to feel like they’re being forced into something unnecessary, you have to give the headset some kind of utility to do something most people have to do and currently find a hassle. Hence the need to call up virtual phone screens or something. Of course, the whole idea of virtual meetings being viable is based on the idea that multi-month lockdowns are an appropriate response to a pandemic, and we can expect more of that. So if the government orders that again, that hassle that a consumer headset becomes a utility to deal with is having meetings. But you still have to be more convenient than Zoom, or integrate with it for a while.
        I can think of some other ways to create a hassle that a headset becomes a utility for. But if I bring them up you might think I’m crazy.

    2. Paying thousands upfront for a goofy looking goggle, that runs Second Life from 2009 and you move in it like a drunk baby, only to avoid eye contact with your coworkers on a meeting, yeah, I don’t really see the value proposition here.

      1. Same, yet some companies won’t shake off that ill-advised product “vision” – I wonder if it’s because nobody still has not come up with valid use cases for AR/VR outside of full-fledge gaming.

        It’s a shame because the technology is getting better, but the pool of non-gamers is not growing. Meta’s “cartoony Facebook in VR” was never going to catch on, nobody thought it would work nor shows any interest for it – and it isn’t a technological issue or limitation, the idea itself is just plain lousy.

        Office-bound professional usage and lifestyle “let’s watch Youtube videos from inside a box inside another box” have hit the proverbial wall a while ago, time to come up with better ideas – and fast.