Robotics Manufacturer Kawasaki Joins Microsoft’s “Industrial Metaverse”

The “metaverse” is a buzzword being dropped next to all sorts of industries but for the most part, they’ve been promoted as social/gaming spaces. Microsoft held its annual Build conference this week with CEO Satya Nadella discussing its far different vision, an “industrial metaverse” that’s welcomed Kawasaki into the fold.

Microsoft Kawasaki

Now, unlike most other metaverse platforms where you get to run around virtual environments, hanging up your avatar’s clothing every five minutes and enjoying social banter, Microsoft’s industrial metaverse is actually very different. This is essentially Kawasaki floor workers donning HoloLens 2 devices to see holographic representations of real robotics so they can solve any issues that arise with minimal downtime.

This process is called digital twinning, creating digital versions of real-world items and processes to aid learning or in the case of heavy industry; speeding up repairs, increasing production or starting a new manufacturing line. There are plenty of possibilities, so much so that Kawasaki now joins Heinz and Boeing as Microsoft industrial metaverse partners.

“That’s why I think you’re seeing a lot of energy in that space,” Jessica Hawk, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of mixed reality, told CNBC. “These are real world problems that these companies are dealing with … so having a technology solution that can help unblock the supply chain challenge, for example, is incredibly impactful.”

Microsoft Kawasaki

Microsoft isn’t purely interested in the industrial applications for connecting people using XR technology. Apart from owning Minecraft and AltspaceVR, Microsoft’s metaverse ambitions stretch across a range of products with Teams and Mesh highlighted during the conference.

“With the latest AI and Teams Rooms experiences, we’re dissolving the walls between digital and physical participation so people can present a PowerPoint together as though they were in the same location, even when they’re apart,” says Nadella. Mesh, on the other hand, is all about creation: “You can build your metaverse experiences on Mesh that are accessible from anywhere on any device, whether it’s HoloLens, VR headsets, phones, tablets or PCs.”

As Microsoft continues to explore metaverse possibilities, gmw3 will keep you updated.

Decentralized Metaverse The Sandbox Enters new Partnership to Safeguard its Community

There are a multitude of different metaverse platforms out there and one of the most prominent is The Sandbox claiming over 40 million global installs on mobile. Today, the decentralized social world has announced a new partnership with WebHelp, a specialist in customer experience and business solutions to help improve The Sandbox’s community engagement.

The Sandbox
Image credit: The Sandbox

Lime any metaverse platform The Sandbox is driven by its community of players and creators, ensuring everyone can have a safe, fun time. And should anything arise then there are the tools to help safeguard them and report malicious behaviour. WebHelp will aid in this process by providing The Sandbox community with in-game support services.

These will range from moderating in-game chat and new player support to conducting moderation, and social media activities. The partnership between the two companies initially began a couple of months back, over the coming months they’ll expand the number of Webhelp ambassadors to 150 in line with each Alpha Season release.

“With many complex interactions happening simultaneously in The Sandbox, it’s really important that our community see and feel the presence of our teams and ambassadors on the platform,” said Sebastien Borget, COO and Co-Founder of The Sandbox said. “Providing support to our players and creators is key to our offering, and we’re pleased Webhelp shares our vision for the metaverse as a safe space for users to connect with entertainment, gaming, and user-generated content. We are looking forward to working with Webhelp to scale up our dedicated support team, which is rapidly developing its skillset and becoming an extension of our team, as part of a long-lasting partnership.”

The Sandbox
Image credit: The Sandbox

“We’re excited to partner with one of the fastest-growing and most disruptive gaming platforms of a generation,” commented Olivier Duha, CEO and Co-founder of Webhelp. “Running on an open irrefutable blockchain network, The Sandbox puts community at its core, matching Webhelp’s business values. We will be using our extensive experience and expertise in content and community moderation to help The Sandbox grow and remain a safe and engaging platform for players, creators, and commercial partners.”

Ensuring a safe, comfortable environment is crucial for any upcoming metaverse but especially one that courts brands partnerships like The Sandbox does. Currently, the platform has over 200 partnerships with brands such as Gucci, HSBC, Warner Music Group, Snoop Dogg, Adidas, Care Bears, and Atari, all of which have invested in land. That looks like to increase as metaverse popularity soars, so keep up to date by reading gmw3.

Nearly 4 Years On, PSVR’s Firewall Launches Its Final Season

Just under four years on from launch, PSVR-exclusive Firewall Zero Hour has launched its final season.

The tenth season is fittingly named Operation: X and developer First Contact Entertainment says it isn’t planning any additional seasons past this one. The game will, of course, remain in operation past the end of this season.

Included in Operation: X is the return of legendary weapons alongside 24 missions that allow you to unlock new cosmetics. You’ll need an Ops Pass to access the new content.

This isn’t a massive season by most accounts, then. But First Contact is currently busy working on a brand new game for PSVR 2. No word on what exactly that will be just yet but we’d certainly welcome an official sequel to Firewall. You can keep track of every announced and rumored PSVR 2 game right here.

Firewall first launched in 2018 and quickly grew in popularity on PSVR thanks to its tactical battles that were best experienced with the rifle-shaped Aim controller. It essentially ended up feeling like VR’s answer to Rainbow Six. We gave the game 9/10 back when we did review scores, saying it offered the definitive multiplayer shooter experience on PSVR.

Are you going to be jumping into Firewall’s final season? Let us know in the comments below.

Apex Construct Creator Drops PlayStation VR2 Tease

Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) still hasn’t put virtual reality (VR) gamers out of their misery and revealed a launch date for PlayStation VR2 but that hasn’t stopped developers from dropping teasing support. The latest comes from Fast Travel Games, the studio behind futuristic bow shooter Apex Construct.

The VR studio left a less than subtle hint about its intentions to develop projects for PlayStation VR2 over on Twitter. While there was no mention of what videogames it might be planning – could it be a new IP or maybe Apex Construct 2? – there was one additional teasing bit of info, a hashtag saying “more than one”.

So by the sound of it, Fast Travel Games is currently working on at least two VR titles for PlayStation VR2; which is exciting. This adds to a steadily growing list of videogames confirmed for the upcoming headset. These include Medieval Dynasty, Pavlov Shack by Vankrupt Games, Maze Theory’s Engram, anime-inspired Runner, an unannounced one from Coatsink; and, of course, Horizon Call of the Mountain.

As well as Apex Construct, Fast Travel Games has also released The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets and Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife, both in-house developed titles, whilst its new publishing arm has released both Virtuoso and Cities VR.

PlayStation VR2

The long-awaited follow up to SIE’s first VR headset released in 2016, the PlayStation VR2 is expected to offer a sizable leap over its predecessor. It’ll house a 4k HDR display, a 110-degree field of view (FoV), headset haptics, eye tracking (for foveated rendering), inside-out tracking, a new vent design, IPD adjustment, new controllers, and a simpler set-up with a single cable going to the PlayStation 5.

Fast Travel Games’ timing is interesting as it comes just a few weeks ahead of what would’ve been E3 2022. The annual videogame extravaganza has been completely cancelled this year but that hasn’t stopped companies from preparing their usual press events. Maybe they’ll be sharing more regarding the VR project around then? If that happens then gmw3 will keep you updated.

Until You Fall Collaboration Coming To Drums Rock This Week

VR drumming game Drums Rock is getting a collaboration with Schell Games’ Until You Fall this week.

A free update for the game will add a cover version of Kneon Knightmare from Until You Fall’s soundtrack. It’ll be a heavier take on the track in step with the rest of the game’s tracklist and also include several cosmetic overhauls such as a drum set inspired by the game, sticks in the shape of blades and hands identical to those of the player character in Until You Fall.

Check out the track itself in the video below.

Drums Rock Meets Until You Fall

Drums Rock is akin to using the drum kit peripheral in Rock Band and later Guitar Hero games; notes stream towards you and you have to match them to the corresponding instrument by hitting it on time. The only difference is that, with this being VR, you don’t actually have a plastic kit yourself.

Until You Fall, meanwhile, is Schell’s roguelite action game in which you take on runs of a dungeon, facing down monsters with swords. To this day it remains one of our favorite VR games and sits on our list of the 25 best VR games out there.

This isn’t the first collaboration between two VR developers we’ve seen. Earlier this month Resolution Games announced it was teaming up with Fast Travel Games to bring weapons from the latter’s debut title, Apex Construct, over to Blaston.

Currently the game’s available on Quest via App Lab. Are you going to be checking out the Drums Rock and Until You Fall collaboration? Let us know in the comments below!

Lynx Secures $4M in Series A Funding, Aims to Become “European Champion of Mixed Reality”

Lynx, the French XR hardware startup known for crowdfunding the Lynx R-1 mixed reality headset, today announced it’s secured $4 million in its Series A round, led by social VR platform Somnium Space.

Alongside Somnium Space, participants in the latest funding round also include what Lynx calls early supporters of the company and “other investors involved in the AR/VR field such as ex-Meta and Google engineers.”

This brings the company’s total outside funding to $6.8 million, according to Crunchbase data, following the R-1 headset’s $800,000 Kickstarter campaign back in late 2021 and a seed round of $2 million in early 2019.  As a part of the deal Artur Sychov, founder & CEO of Somnium Space, is joining the company’s board of directors.

Built on Qualcomm’s XR2 chipset, Lynx R-1 combines high quality cameras and virtual reality displays to achieve passthrough AR in addition to standard VR (aka, mixed reality), making it an early pioneer of the category. The headset also ditches the standard Fresnel lenses for a novel optic called a “four-fold catadioptric freeform prism,” which is said to slim down the size of Lynx R-1 seemingly beyond what current Fresnels can do.

“At Somnium Space we truly believe in the future of open and decentralized Metaverse which empowers its users. This includes, not only software, but also very importantly hardware,” says Artur Sychov, Founder & CEO of Somnium Space. “The Lynx team led by Stan has created an extraordinary AR / VR device (Lynx-r) with openness in mind which will change and revolutionize the way we all think and interact with this market category. I am very happy to support this company and believe that together we will push the boundaries and potential of the VR/AR industry forward.”

Founded in 2019, Lynx has high ambitions for its R-1 headset too. Priced at $600 for its consumer version, the company is looking to lead the way into the same product category that many established players are soon to enter, including Meta with Project Cambria and Apple with its rumored headset, reportedly code named N301.

“We have this opportunity right here to create the European Champion of Mixed Reality with our work at Lynx, supported by a vibrant community of users and developers desperate to see alternatives to Big Tech companies products and their closed ecosystems.” says Stan Larroque, founder and CEO of Lynx. “What’s the point of creating a European Metaverse if the underlying platform, the door we use to access it, remains in the hands of the same big players with their damaging business models?” he adds.

Since finalizing the design of Lynx R-1, the company has also completed an office expansion in Paris, now at more 200 square meters of R&D, and established a new office in Taiwan.

The post Lynx Secures $4M in Series A Funding, Aims to Become “European Champion of Mixed Reality” appeared first on Road to VR.