XR extended reality AR NEWS

Summer of Extended Reality (XR): Latest News & Industry Updates

We’ve come to the end of a very eventful summer of extended reality (XR). New releases, public announcements from big tech companies, company acquisitions, NFTs, and more… This summer, we witnessed brand new industry updates, and now as we enter the final quarter of 2021, we decided to compile some of the most important highlights of this summer for you.

Rayban x Facebook: Ray-Ban Stories 

One of the most anticipated news in the AR world was Facebook x Ray-Ban collaboration for brand new smart glasses: Ray-Ban Stories. They are a combination of classic Ray-Ban style and the latest Facebook technology, yet they are not truly AR glasses. They are stylish and very suitable for casual use as if wearing regular Wayfarers while going out. 

With Ray-Ban Stories, users can capture photos and videos, which they can also share, or listen to music and podcasts, take a phone call without taking out their phones. It is claimed that these glasses are an important step towards the future since mobile phones will no longer be in the center of our daily lives with the latest developments in the display technologies such as augmented reality. It is indeed a big step towards doing the tasks we need to do on our phones hands-free. 

Introducing: Horizon Workrooms 

Meet the future of work: Horizon Workrooms. With this project, people can come together in a virtual room and work collaboratively. Horizon Workrooms works across both virtual reality and the web and is designed to improve teams’ ability to collaborate, communicate, and connect remotely through the power of VR. Teams can use Workrooms for anything they need to discuss–whether that’s getting together to brainstorm or whiteboard an idea, work on a document, hear updates from their team, hang out and socialize, or simply have better conversations that flow more naturally. 

As seen in the introductory video, with Oculus Quest 2 headsets, users can define their surroundings before going into VR so they can move naturally in their own environment without the worry of stumbling objects around. Using features like the mixed-reality desk, keyboard tracking, hand tracking, remote desktop streaming, video conferencing integration, spatial audio, and the new Oculus Avatars, Workrooms offer a different kind of productivity experience. The company also stated that they’ve been using Workrooms at Facebook too, to collaborate with coworkers already and think that it’s one of the best ways especially when teams can not get together physically during this global pandemic. 

Giant Brands Releasing NFTs

The first quarter of 2021 was active in terms of investments in NFTs. Big companies released their own brand NFTs to be sold on platforms like OpenSea or Decenatraland or sold in games for players to dress up their avatars. 

One of the highlights of this summer was Louis Vuitton releasing a custom skin for Riot Games’ League of Legends avatars in the iconic LVMH pattern. Also, Vogue Singapore is bringing NFTs to high-end fashion, featuring a QR code in its September 2021 issue that enables access to two digital covers created by fashion designers, which are available as NFTs. 

summer of extended reality

Meanwhile, Burberry jumped on the bandwagon of NFT by Mythical Games’ Blankos Block Party blockchain game. Blankos Block Party is a multiplayer party game featuring digital vinyl toys known as Blanko and the new Burberry Blanko is a shark character named Sharky B. What Burberry aims with the Blankos B Series drop is to empower gamers to own an NFT from the new collection and actively engage with its house codes. 

Other than fashion giants, the Coca-Cola Company released an NFT of the pixelated version of Coke’s classic 1956 vending machine. All the big brands, and also the small ones, are experimenting NFTs to leverage their businesses and opening the door of innovation for the future.

summer of extended reality

Snap’s New Generation Spectacles

The next generation (4th Gen) was released on 20th May, months before their competitor Facebook released Ray-Ban Stories. This generation Spectacles are the company’s first true augmented reality glasses. However, the new spectacles are not for everyone, they’re shipped only to creators and designers who want to create their art on Snap’s Lenses using the Spectacles. The goal of the project is to help creators “create the world they want to see”. 

The first two generations of Spectacles, released in 2016 and 2018, looked like sunglasses with a single camera in the corner of the frame. They let you snap videos (and later photos) in a unique, spherical format that could then be transferred to your phone and posted to Snapchat or another social network. However, the new generation Spectacles aim more than just recording AR videos, they’re not your regular glasses to wear while meeting with friends. They have the potential to inspire so many innovative ideas in artists. Throughout the summer, we came across various creative projects using this latest technology. When do you think the new Spectacles will be available for the public? Time will tell.

Netflix Meets XR Content & Games 

Shonda Rhimes, producer of unforgettable TV shows such as Gray’s Anatomy and Bridgerton, and also the head of Shondaland Media expanded their contract with Netflix. This newly expanded partnership will give Netflix and Shondaland Media the opportunity to exclusively produce, stream and distribute feature films as well potential gaming and virtual reality content. 

The pact currently includes a branding and merchandise deal for Shondaland Media content, which will now add live events and experiences. Yet, it is not certain if the users are going to encounter VR content soon after the deal is signed, but this pact gives promising signals that Netflix will not entertain us just in 2D, but will also provide immersive experiences and high-quality content. 

Also, Mike Verdu joined Netflix as Vice President of Game Development, reporting to Chief Operating Officer Greg Peters. Verdu was previously Facebook’s vice president in charge of working with developers to bring games and other content to Oculus virtual-reality headsets. Exciting days ahead!

summer of extended reality

Oculus Quest 2 x Zoom Announcement

Horizon Workrooms already provide access to your personal computer and real-world keyboard without having to remove your headset. As if being in a real meeting, users can take notes and use the virtual whiteboard too in Horizon Workrooms. What’s exciting is Zoom and Horizon will be working together to bring a new feature that supports Zoom meetings to allow users outside of VR to join the meetings and create a platform to stay connected and productive across realities. With this Zoom and Oculus collaboration, we will be able to arrange Zoom meetings on Horizon Workrooms using Oculus Quest 2 headsets. The estimated release date is the beginning of next year.

summer of extended reality

Roblox x Sony Music Collab

At the beginning of this summer, video game platform Roblox announced that they partnered with Sony Music Entertainment. This deal has allowed the two companies to work together and create new experiences for the Roblox community. The partnership provided Sony Music artists a way to reach new audiences and generate revenue. 

“With this new agreement, we look forward to expanding our successful partnership with the Roblox team to further unlock commercial opportunities at the intersection of music and gaming. Immersive online environments represent a meaningful opportunity for reaching a growing number of fans who want to use virtual communities to enjoy shared music experiences.”

Dennis Kooker, Sony Music Entertainment President of Global Digital Business and U.S. Sales

This is not Roblox’s first collaboration with the music industry. In November 2020, Lil Nas X performed a virtual concert and this May Zara Larson held her Launch Party on Roblox with an attraction of over 4 million visits.

Apple Files Patent For Mixed Reality Headsets

We do not know whether Apple’s new XR move is going to be AR glasses or not. However, it’s no indicator that Apple is not investing in this area. On the contrary, Apple is constantly patenting new MR technologies and getting prepared for its big MR debut. 

In early July, the United States Patent and Trademark Office published a patent filed by Apple Inc. for a new type of MR device that does away with conventional screens in favor of a Dynamic Focus 3D Display that projects images directly unto the users’ retinas. 

summer of extended reality

With everything going on in the industry right now, it’s almost impossible to not feel excited about the near future. Which companies will be the key players of the metaverse? Which company will have the best AR hardware and accelerate the adoption of these new technologies? And where will you stand when all of these new developments are coming to life? If you have a business and want to explore the XR world, bring your products to the metaverse and simply enhance your customers’ shopping experience, you can contact our professional team today.