Apple introduced their long-awaited augmented reality headset in June.
Called Apple Vision Pro, the headset promises to “seamlessly” combine the real world with digital elements. While the Vision Pro is aimed at augmented reality experiences, it can also switch to full virtual reality using a dial. The headset has a separate battery pack and can be controlled using eye movements, hand gestures, and voice commands. Users can give voice commands, and a wide range of familiar iPhone and iPad apps will automatically be compatible with the headset.1
Priced at $3,499, Apple Vision Pro will launch early next year in the United States and roll out to other countries later in 2024.
Experts, including Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook, all see the next era of personal computing as one dominated by the metaverse, virtual worlds, and interactive 3D objects.2 As a result, the race to dominate the headset market is on. That goes a long way to explaining why the day after its big Vision Pro announcement, Apple wasted no time in buying an AR headset startup called Mira, which has deals in place with Nintendo theme parks and contracts with the U.S. military.3
Shanghai, China’s largest city and financial capital, announced a plan in June to build 30 culture and tourism metaverse projects by the end of 2025 to help spur a local metaverse tourism industry that could generate as much as 50 billion yuan (US$6.9 billion) within two years.
The city’s focus will be on “smart tourism” and incorporate virtual performances by what they term “virtual idols,” digital public artwork on blockchains, and integrating metaverse technologies into real-world tourist attractions to give visitors augmented reality options, such as having avatar tour guides.4
SoftBank-backed virtual reality startup Improbable has unveiled its plan for a network of “interoperable Web3 metaverses” called MSquared. The project aims to create 3D virtual spaces where thousands of users can live, work, and interact with each other. Improbable has partnered with Google, Nvidia, and Japanese cloud gaming firm Ubitus to provide the necessary technical infrastructure for the metaverse network. The service will be accessible through cloud streaming, similar to how movies and TV shows stream online, eliminating the need for software downloads. Last. Year, Improbable raised $150 million from investors for work on the MSquared project.5
Industry Updates on Specific Companies
Unity Software Inc
Unity launched a dedicated AI marketplace in its Unity Asset Store aimed at helping developers leverage AI to create and grow real-time 3D (RT3D) content for use in video games and metaverse applications. The AI tools available will include professional-quality solutions from Unity, as well as community-built solutions and cutting-edge AI technology. The new marketplace will act as a central hub for developer tools, allowing them to find AI solutions more easily. Tools will include generative 3D AI that will simplify the creation of assets and virtual worlds, producing them in a fraction of the current time, using natural language to help 3D artists render and texture objects, and apply real-time simulation and lifelike physics in virtual worlds.6
eXp World Holdings Inc
eXp World Holdings released updates to its metaverse offerings in June, including Virbela and Frame.
Virbela and Frame provide organizations with virtual environments to create new workflows and help reduce overhead and travel costs while keeping employees in touch and collaborating across distances.
Updates to Virbela include a new virtual campus that looks and feels like a modern city. The most advanced enterprise metaverse available for remote work today, Virbela’s new diverse avatar system and integration with Zoom will roll out later in 2023.
Frame updates include support for 150 simultaneous users, new virtual meeting environments, and a “Connections” feature to help you easily find colleagues in the metaverse. Frame also recently launched an app version for Microsoft Teams that was featured at Microsoft Build.7
Investing in the Metaverse with MESH ETF
Looking to invest in the Metaverse? The Evolve Metaverse ETF (MESH ETF), is Canada’s first metaverse ETF. MESH ETF provides investors with an actively managed diversified portfolio of companies involved in the development of the metaverse.
Portfolio Strategy and Activity
For the month, Unity Software Inc made the largest contribution to the Fund, followed by eXp World Holdings Inc and Adobe Systems Incorporated. The largest detractors to performance for the month were Advanced Micro Devices Inc, followed by Sony Group Corp and Roblox Corp.
To learn more about MESH ETF, please click here: https://evolveetfs.com/mesh/.
- Robertson, A., “Apple Vision Pro is Apple’s new $3,499 AR headset,” The Verge, June 5, 2023; https://www.theverge.com/2023/6/5/23738968/apple-vision-pro-ar-headset-features-specs-price-release-date-wwdc-2023
- Vanian, J., “Meta’s heated rivalry with Apple enters new phase as the tech giants go after headsets,” CNBC, June 5, 2023; https://www.cnbc.com/2023/06/05/meta-apple-rivalry-enters-new-phase-as-tech-giants-go-after-headsets.html
- Schiffer, Z. & Heath, A., “Apple has bought an AR headset startup called Mira,” The Verge, June 6, 2023; https://www.theverge.com/2023/6/6/23751350/apple-mira-ar-headset-startup
- Zuo, T., “Shanghai targets US$6.9 billion metaverse revenue from culture, tourism projects,” Yahoo Finance, June 27, 2023; https://finance.yahoo.com/news/shanghai-targets-us-6-9-043537652.html
- Browne, R., “SoftBank-backed startup Improbable outlines plan for metaverse to rival Microsoft, Meta,” CNBC, June 16, 2023; https://www.cnbc.com/2023/06/16/softbank-backed-improbable-outlines-plan-for-msquared-metaverse.html
- “Unity Launches New AI Marketplace as Premier Destination for AI Solutions,” Unity Software, June 27, 2023; https://investors.unity.com/news/news-details/2023/Unity-Launches-New-AI-Marketplace-as-Premier-Destination-for-AI-Solutions/default.aspx
- “eXp World Holdings Continues to Innovate and Expand Its Metaverse Offerings,” eXp World Holdings, June 21, 2023; https://expworldholdings.com/press-releases/exp-world-holdings-continues-to-innovate-and-expand-its-metaverse-offerings/