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Big XR News from Engage XR, Microsoft, Disney, Meta, and Accenture


This week was busy for the XR space. Following various industry events this week, the immersive industry was ready to debut new updates and showcases to prove XR is here to stay.

This week and last showed that various big technology firms are still serious about investing in the XR space. New updates and features may create a vast, immersive marketplace for firms, developers, and consumers.

Although, despite a prosperous period for the marketplace, the waves of 2022 are still following through the tech industry, leading to various vital players requiring staff layoffs to remain strong carrying on through 2022, leaving the future in question for some.

ENGAGE XR Hosts Fatboy Slim ‘Eat Sleep VR Repeat’ Digital Concert

This week, XR had a massive outreach moment when ENGAGE XR Holdings Plc hosted a virtual reality (VR) Fatboy Slim content.

The enterprise-grade Metaverse platform chose to host world-renowned DJ’s “Eat Sleep VR Repeat” concert, a virtual event ENGAGE designed to showcase its emerging platform.

The campaign will host six shows which last 45 minutes each. During each Metaverse performance, Fatboy Slim featured some of his top hits, including ‘Weapon of Choice’, ‘Rockafeller Skank’, and ‘Right Here, Right Now.’

David Whelan, the Chief Executive and Co-Founder of ENGAGE XR said:

The Fatboy Slim concert demonstrates the versatility and capabilities of VR and how corporations to creatives can build their own worlds within ENGAGE to be used for entertainment, business engagements and so much more.

Moreover, Garry Blackburn, Owner of Anglo Management and Manager for Fatboy Slim, explained that by participating in the VR event, “we’re learning the language of VR and how to behave in the environment.”

Blackburn stated that Web3 integration, such as NFTs, would be “amazing” and could address some industry concerns regarding fair artist compensation. He went on to say that Web3 platforms could also make it hard for rights and labels to work together.

Blackburn also added:

With the record industry, when CDs and cassettes were gone, the only way these artists could make any money—notwithstanding artists like Beyonce—is by constantly touring. You see bands in their 60s and 70s still touring because they need the money. I think this is one way that [Web3 and the Metaverse] could be a way for them to generate money much more easily with touring in the future.

Avatars come to Microsoft Teams

Microsoft launched Avatar for Teams on Monday, an immersive service that allows users to participate in meetings as a virtual person. The framework operates under a public preview period, meaning that Teams users must jump through several simple hoops to leverage the early-stage enterprise-grade avatar solution.

Microsoft is still working on its enterprise avatar system to optimize the service ready for a public roll-out. So, Teams users may experience technical problems as Microsoft irons out specific issues based on its public preview user feedback.

Microsoft is incorporating new lighting and performance rendering systems to enhance the graphics of an avatar’s hair and skin.

Additionally, Microsoft is working to enhance avatar customization. Users of Teams can customize a business avatar. The company makes clothing, accessories, and headwear that are inclusive and diverse for Teams users.

An optimized and personalized Teams avatar can use animated emoji responses to communicate during a meeting; employees can use the feature to communicate nonverbally by, for instance, clapping or raising an avatar’s hand.

The move is part of Microsoft’s effort to avoid issues with remote working, like video call fatigue, by offering immersive options that keep employees engaged without requiring them to appear on camera.

In addition, eliminating the requirement for a video feed to participate in meetings makes the fight against meeting fatigue more adjustable for employees. A worker who cannot share a video feed because of a poor internet connection or a bad working environment can still participate with simple audio-only dial-on options.

To leverage Avatars for Microsoft Teams today, please refer to XR Today’s step-by-step how-to guide.

Disney Axes 7,000 Metaverse Employees

On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Disney had announced 7,000 layoffs and has cancelled its metaverse division.

The WSJ revealed, citing reliable sources, that Disney intended to eliminate its metaverse division. Previously, the division aimed to produce Web3 content using the media conglomerate’s intellectual property catalogue.

Disney reportedly laid off the 50-member team. However, the WSJ added that its leader, Mike White, will remain employed by the company in an unspecified capacity.

CEO Bob Iger announced the news in February as part of Disney’s “significant transformation.”

As a result of Disney’s global layoffs, the company will be able to recover approximately $5.5 billion in expenses. Iger went on to say that doing so would boost Disney’s profitability.

It is unclear as to the stance of Disney’s Web3 Accelerator program, which fostered six startups in building solutions and immersive experiences to engage audiences. It would focus on digital assets such as augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), and non-fungible tokens (NFTs)

Meta Quest v51 Requires Android 12L Security.

This week, Meta Platforms made the Quest version 51 (v51) update available for early-access developers. The update includes new features for headset enthusiasts.

Added highlights incorporate local dimming support for the Meta Quest Pro and extra help channel for Public Test Channel (PTC) clients.

The news follows Meta’s announcement that, as of 30 June, all Quest developers must develop applications compatible with Android 12L.

The goal of Meta’s switch to Android 12L is to make production easier for Android users who are already on the market. It likewise shows a shift to working on a new operating system (OS) for the Quest 2 and Quest Pro.

Additionally, the upgrade will improve smartphone interoperability with Android 13 users, enhancing user experiences and security.

The Quest v51 update would improve the Quest Pro’s dynamic display range by expanding access to local dimming.

The Quest Pro’s Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 1 chipset, which Qualcomm makes, will also be fully utilized when upgraded to Android 12L – significantly supporting Meta’s commitment to supporting enterprise metaverse technologies.

Accenture Faces 19,000 Layoffs

This week, reports indicated that Accenture cut roughly 19,000 positions or 2.5 percent of its workforce.

Julie Sweet, Chief Executive of Accenture, addressed the layoffs noting that the company is “focused on executing compressed transformations” to lower costs, strengthen growth, and remain more agile and resilient.”

Accenture’s layoffs occur amid the global economic crisis, which has already impacted several tech giants. Meta also laid off 10,000 employees in March due, among other things, to slowing economic growth and rising overhead costs.

In November of last year, Meta also started 11,000 mass layoffs. Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, recently stated that his company would work on “transformative” technologies like AI.

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