Mona Metaverse raises $14.6 million, Niantic teams up with NBA for AR game, immerse language learning in VR

A wave of layoffs is hitting tech companies. This week it was reported that Unity has laid off hundreds of workers and Niantic cancels projects amid layoffs. It may be related to recent acquisitions, but more likely the current downturn evokes memories of the 2000 technical correction, and the decade-long relapse to relevance that followed. Ironically, Niantic also unveiled one of its most promising new projects this week.

Niantic and NBA Unleash an AR Game Around the WorldNBA All World is a location-based game that is strikingly similar to Pokemon Go. Instead of catching Pokemon, the map shows basketball themed content. Senior producer Marcus Matthews explained in a press release that “real world places and objects will become video game assets; the convenience store near you has become a location to pick up stamina for your NBA player, the sports store around the corner is the place to pick up the latest branded shoe to customize your players.”

Mona Raised $14.6 Million to Build Creative Metaverse† Mona provides a platform and network for creators to build, manage, and sell interactive metaverse worlds as NFTs. The world building platform is free for anyone to create and access via their web browser, and creators can put their Metaverse worlds on the Ethereum or Polygon blockchains. The round was co-led by Protocol Labs, Archetype and Collab+Currency. Other investors include Placeholder, OpenSea Ventures, Polygon Studios, ConsenSys, Venture Reality Fund and other crypto-native funds and angel investors.

US FCC commissioner wants Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores† It turns out that she to be collect data and they can manipulate you. Good God. That would never happen with American companies like Google and Facebook.

Apple’s AR/VR headset could launch in January, analyst predicts† Ming-Chi Kuo’s latest release date is pretty specific, but analysts have hilariously misunderstood Apple’s AR timing for over five years. This time it is different, says Protocol. The headset is arguably the most complicated product Apple has ever designed and can cost as much as $3,000.

Publicis’ Chief Metaverse Officer is a lion named LeonThe mega agency has introduced Leon, an AI-powered cartoon avatar, to help staff and customers answer questions about web3. Leon answered questions from the public at the company’s technology expo in Paris, and will have his own linkedin page.

Mojo’s smart contact lenses begin in-eye testing The company’s CEO, Drew Perkins, first wore the first fully functioning smart contact lens on his eye and wrote about it in his blog

The Stratoverse and MINIverse are now open to the public via Horizon Worlds After launching virtual fast food restaurants in Meta’s Horizon Worlds, Fender has introduced a guitar-themed world and BMW a world for its Mini brand. Much more native to the metaverse than ads, and you can walk around in it.

Immerse Language Learning is launched on Quest.This language learning experience is designed from the ground up for VR headsets. Immerse membership includes: 12 Live VR lessons per month facilitated by an expert phrasebook, 24/7 access to the Live Conversation Practice social lounge, personalized feedback to accelerate fluency growth, and weekly events to promote a new community – and Building Cultural Understanding Immerse is available on the Meta VR App Store for $44.99 per month.

Mixed Reality Star Gazing App for Quest. skygaze allows users to explore the solar system, explore planets or attend a show in the virtual planetarium.

This week in XR is also a podcast hosted by the author of this column and Ted Schilowitz, Futurist at Paramount Global. This week’s guest is Quinn Taber, co-founder and CEO of Immerse, the language learning application launched this week in the Meta Quest app store. You can find the podcast on podcasting platforms Spotify iTunesand YouTube

What we read

Nobody wants brands in the Metaverse (Janko Roettgers and Nick Statt/Protocol)

A Very Short and Incomplete History of XR Computing – Version 1.1.2 (Rony Abovitz/Medium)

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