Meta announced a partnership with Microsoft and unveiled its $1,500 “Meta Quest Pro” VR headset which it hopes will enable a new form of work and social computing in its cross-device metaverse.
“We’re bringing the Microsoft Teams immersive meeting experience to Meta Quest in order to give people new ways to connect with each other” (Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO)
At its recent Meta Connect conference, Meta announced a partnership with Microsoft to integrate the streaming of Microsoft Teams, Office, Windows and Xbox Cloud Gaming with Quest devices
The announcement was a surprise given that the companies were seemingly in competition with each other. However, this strategic move looks set to assert the positions of both companies in any cross-device metaverse.
“People will be able to join a Teams meeting directly from Workrooms. We think that this cross-device, cross-screen experience will be the foundation of the virtual office of the future.” (Mark Zuckerberg, Meta CEO)
Meta revealed its plans for two tiers of virtual reality (VR) hardware. The timing of the unveiling is interesting as competitor Apple had planned to unveil its own high-end mixed reality headset next year.
The Meta Quest Pro will be a high-end device that comes equipped with mixed-reality mode that passes through colour video, eye- and face-tracking sensors to improve avatar animation and improved visual fidelity of 1920 x 1800 per eye that improves text-readability when in full VR mode. Meta claims 37% more pixels per inch and 75% more contrast.
“Connecting live with one another, especially in the last few years, has been the cornerstone of how people want to be in the metaverse. That feeling like someone’s actually in the room with you, that very feeling of three-dimensional presence, is actually a critical element of being able to experience the metaverse.” (Rupa Rao, Meta Product Mgmt Lead for VR Devices)
“... we're definitely trying to continue to push the industry forward, and one of the best ways we know how to do that is to release these devices that demonstrate to people what can be done.” (Andrew Bosworth, Meta CTO)
While the price of $1,500 might seem steep at first, the headset promises a range of technical improvements. There are redesigned controllers with improved haptic response, a full 360-degree range of motion and stylus function for sketching and whiteboarding.
The higher visual acuity allows for more accuracy and comfort for work-related tasks. Internet connectivity uses WiFi6 for 1.6 Gbps throughput which is twice the performance of the Quest 2. Comparable devices from competitors such as Varjo and Magic Leap cost up to two times more.
“One of the best things VR is you can create environments that go beyond what’s possible in the physical world. Of course, that goes for productivity setups too, so you have instant access to your perfect workspace that’s set up just how you want, no matter where you are … The people who we're targeting, it's going to be either people who just want the highest-end VR device - enthusiast, prosumer folks - or people who are trying to get work done." (Mark Zuckerberg)
Meta hopes that prosumers and VR enthusiasts will be won over by its ability to both work and play, in addition to appealing to enterprise and creative industries customers.
“... this stuff is going to take existing experiences that people are having today in VR and make them better … We do think this is a general compute platform that is going to be attractive to everyone … Eventually, we think that your Quest could be the only monitor that you’ll actually need” (Andrew Bosworth)
Privacy concerns in relation to the data that the headset can gather were also addressed, with eye- and face-tracking turned off by default, and processed in-device and not sent to third-parties.
“... images are deleted immediately after processing. These raw images are never sent to Meta or any third parties” (Rupa Rao)
The actual successor to the Quest 2 will be the Oculus Quest 3 and have downgraded specs for the consumer VR market with a similar price to the older model.
Meta also announced a partnership with Ray-Ban to design and create a new series of augmented reality (AR) glasses. Such a device might focus more on assistive technology than full immersion and “bring augmented reality to life with beautiful design” aimed at onboarding the mass market into the metaverse.
Controller tech demonstrated also included an updated wrist controller that allows accessibility-challenged users the ability to play games with minimal body movement. The neural wristbands use a technique known as electromyography (EMG) to allow users to use their fingers to make computer commands such as typing.
“What if you could collaborate with colleagues as if you were right there at work? … This is an exciting time to be working on the metaverse. We are investing in this because we believe in the future … The future isn’t so far away.” (Mark Zuckerberg)
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Google had a busy week, announcing a Web3 partnership with Coinbase to allow crypto payments for its cloud services and also approving Donald Trump’s “Truth Social” app for its Play Store.
"We want to make building in Web3 faster and easier, and this partnership with Coinbase helps developers get one step closer to that goal" (Thomas Kurian, Google CEO)
Google Cloud has announced during its Cloud Next conference a strategic partnership with Coinbase to develop its offering to Web3 customers in a move that is being heralded by many as another validation of the emerging crypto industry.
“Any layer one protocol is running compute containers, generally on a cloud of some kind … ultimately, it’s all running on top of a compute container hosted somewhere, and that’s where the cloud providers come in … The Cloud provision—we’re a layer zero” (Rich Widmann, Google Cloud Web3 Lead)
The move could be aimed at luring the fast-expanding metaverse, crypto and web3 industry from its competitors that do not accept crypto payments. Coinbase, a crypto-native company, has already announced that it will migrate some products and features to Google Cloud from Amazon Web Services (AWS).
While terms of the deal were not disclosed, it was revealed that:
By early 2023, selected cryptocurrencies will be accepted as payments via Coinbase Commerce with Coinbase earning a percentage of transactions that it processes. Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and yes, Dogecoin (DOGE) have so far been announced as soon-to-be-accepted forms of payment.
Google Cloud customers will gain tools for crypto integration and analysis.
Web3 developers can access blockchain data infrastructure provided by Google Cloud’s Bigquery and Coinbase Cloud’s nodes.
Institutional customers will have access to Coinbase Prime, which offers “an integrated solution that provides secure custody and an advanced trading platform for institutional investors and corporates”
Google Cloud will be used by Coinbase to build out its exchange and data services
Coinbase will leverage Google Cloud’s fibre-optic network and compute platform to scale its crypto services
Coinbase will offer machine learning (ML) insights to its customers based on Google Cloud’s data and analytics tech
The plans show Google Cloud’s increasing investment in the blockchain industry and acknowledgment of Web3 as the next evolution of the internet.
For example, Google developers gave a nod of appreciation to the efforts of Ethereum (ETH) developers by showing a countdown clock via its Google Search page to the ETH network upgrade “The Merge” in September this year. Google Cloud also runs a validator node for Sky Mavis, the company behind play-to-earn (P2E) unicorn Axie Infinity, on its Ronin network.
Google this week launched a feature showing the ETH balances of Ethereum wallet addresses via Google Search. Users can simply paste into the search bar a compatible Ethereum address.
While Google Cloud may be supporting Web3 and decentralization, Google Play, the Web2 mobile app store with centralized governance, has approved Donald Trump’s Truth Social app after its latest update to conform to the app store’s policies relating to objectionable posts and users.
“Apps may be distributed on Google Play if they comply with our developer guidelines, which include the requirement to effectively moderate user-generated content and remove objectionable posts, such as those that incite violence" (Google)
The app had already been available on Apple’s App Store since February, and is now available to compatible Android devices which comprise around 40 percent of the US smartphone market.
“It's been a pleasure to work with Google, and we're glad they helped us to finally bring Truth Social to all Americans, regardless of what device they use." (Trump Media and Technology Group)
Trump also has a little-known NFT collection “CryptoTRUMP Club” that since March remains available for purchase on DeepRedSky, the NFT marketplace made by the ‘right-leaning’ social media app Parler.
It remains to be seen if Donald Trump will continue to expand on the utility of NFT collection with a future Trumpaverse.
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Spain’s LaLiga, their top football division, announces a partnership with Dapper Labs for NFT collectibles called “LaLiga Golazos”.
“LaLiga is steeped in history, tradition, and legendary moments and our fans are some of the most passionate in the world and we are excited to offer a new way for them to experience the moments they love. LaLiga Golazos allows fans to own and collect LaLiga plays and moments from 2005-present” (Óscar Mayo, Executive Director at LaLiga)”
LaLiga and Dapper Labs have announced the first series of officially-licensed NFT digital collectibles dropping on October 27.
“We are constantly innovating new ways to bring LaLiga, its Clubs, and Players closer to our fans” (Óscar Mayo)
The “first fully bilingual digital collectible experience” with play-by-play narration in Spanish and English, and will feature “the best from LaLiga’s fiercest rivalries including El Clásico and storied derbies”.
Each collectible will be a “Moment” and will allow collectors to own and trade spectacular goal moments known as a golazos as well as other highlights such as incredible saves.
“LaLiga Golazos will enable fans to own a piece of LaLiga history and participate in a whole new kind of football community that recognizes and rewards them for their fandom” (Jorge Urrutia del Pozo, GM of LaLiga Golazos at Dapper Labs)