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Metaverse July 19, 2022

Artilux teams up for a metaverse 3D camera

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In order to improve the utilization of the metaverse, materials company II-VI has partnered with Artilux in Taiwan to create a next-generation 3D camera with a significantly longer range and higher image resolution.

For a small 3D camera that operates in the short-wavelength infrared (SWIR) at 1380 nm, II-VI coupled its unique indium phosphide (InP) semiconductor laser technologies with a sensor array from Artilux, resulting in much improved performance than current cameras running at 940 nm

The InP edge-emitting lasers with up to 2 W of output power and optical diffusers for the highly integrated SWIR illumination module were provided by II-VI in surface-mount technology (SMT) packages for low-cost and high-quality assembly. The SWIR sensor array in the Artilux camera is based on a scalable, established CMOS technology platform called Halcyon that was created in collaboration with foundry TSMC.

For NIR+SWIR (near infrared + short-wavelength infrared) sensing and 3D sensing technologies, Artilux employed germanium on a silicon substrate (GeSi) as opposed to the conventional silicon germanium (SiGe). Dark current and DCR (dark count rate) are reduced by more than 3 orders of magnitude as a result.

Dr. Julie Sheridan Eng, Sr. Vice President, Optoelectronic Devices & Modules Business Unit, II-VI, stated “the longer infrared wavelength improves contrasts and reveals material details that are otherwise not visible with shorter-wavelength illumination. We can illuminate the scene with more brightness while yet staying well within the parameters of the eye safety criteria by constructing a camera that operates at 1380 nm rather than 940 nm. Additionally, the environment absorbs more light at 1380 nm than it does at 940 nm, which lowers background light interference and significantly improves signal-to-noise ratio, allowing for greater range and higher image quality in cameras.”

Dr. Neil Na, co-founder and CTO of Artilux, stated that the compact SWIR 3D camera may be easily included into next-generation consumer products, many of which are being developed for augmented-, mixed-, and virtual-reality applications. “II-VI and Artilux revealed a critical skill that will make the metaverse a well-liked location for leisure, employment, and play. With displays that can recognize, define, classify, and depict visual content, or with avatars that can perceive real-time eye contact and facial emotions, the SWIR camera demonstration offers a glimpse into the future of 3D sensing in the metaverse.”

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Metaverse

Meta’s Metaverse Bleeds Investor Billions

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Meta's Metaverse Bleeds Investor Billions

Meta lost $9.4 billion in the first nine months of the year in its metaverse unit Reality Labs and sees significantly wider operating losses going forward. But its not just Meta that is suffering in the technology sector. A slowing economy have seen companies cutting marketing budgets. 

To make the ambitious dream of creating a metaverse a reality, just about a year ago Facebook/Meta announced it was hiring 10,000 software engineers over the next five years – the biggest ever hire in tech history – to build its metaverse, a mix of reality, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) realms.

The technology giant’s valuation at the time was close to $1 trillion, a princely market capitalisation usually reserved for the US’ premier blue chip corporates like Apple.

“Digital goods will be an important way to express yourself in the metaverse and a big driver of the creative economy. I am excited to bring more brands and bring VR soon too,” Zuckerberg said at the time.

Yet barely a year after Mark Zuckerberg’s big Meta presentation, the company’s stock has plunged by more than 70%, bleeding investors billions.

Now, Meta is worth only $300 billion, just a third of its market value a year ago.

Old Facebook Profitable While Meta's Metaverse Bleeds Investor Billions

Analysts and industry experts say Zuckerberg’s fixation with the metaverse has come at a high price for the company.

“The obsession with the (metaverse) project has done tremendous harm to the brand,” CircleIt founder and CEO Art Shaikh tells MetaNews.

In the quarter to September, revenue came down 4% from $29 billion to $27.7 billion.

Meta’s results have raised questions on whether Zuckerberg’s all-in bet on the metaverse was the smartest play and whether its gamble on the future will pay off eventually.Old Facebook Profitable While Meta's Metaverse Bleeds Investor Billions“Meta’s results …was an absolute train wreck that speaks to pervasive digital advertising doldrums ahead for Zuckerberg & Co as they make the risky and head scratching bet on the metaverse,” Wedbush analysts Dan Ives said in its report.

Concerns have also been raised on whether Meta can transform itself into a virtual reality behemoth and power the company’s next phase of growth.

Analysts say such strategic pivots take a while for big tech companies to implement and reap financial benefits from in the near term.

“Every new technology takes years to first convince the marketplace of users, workers and investors, and then to create something that captures the imagination of the marketplace,” Jeff Kagan, a technology industry analyst tells MetaNews.

Meta lost $9.4 billion in the first nine months of the year in its Reality Labs, its metaverse unit and sees significantly wider operating loss in fiscal year 2023 (FY23).

But its not just Meta that is suffering in the technology sector. A slowing economy have seen companies cutting marketing budgets. 

Even tech companies like Alphabet, the parent company of Google, have not been spared with top line earnings declining in the period to $54.5 billion from $56.3 billion.

What went wrong with the meta pivot?

“It was a matter of timing”, Kagan says.

“The metaverse was still in its early years and the marketplace of users and investors simply had no clue what to expect,” Kagan says.

“That is where Facebook or Meta was wrong. They moved too quickly. They jumped over too many important steps. That is why this company is stuck in the metaverse mud today.”

But Zuckerberg painted a picture of an entity holding a fort in the market. 

User engagement for its apps is at its peak, he says. A total of 3.7 billion people now use one of Meta’s apps monthly. The number of people using Facebook, Meta’s flagship application, is the highest it has ever been, he says.

Instagram has more than 2 billion monthly actives while Whatsapp, its messenger application service, has more than 2 billion daily actives.

Its Reels product, a video sharing service positioned to compete with Tik Tok that is integrated into the Facebook application, is also doing well, he added.

This number represents a 50% growth in the past six months, he said.

All the numbers look promising elsewhere except in Meta’s new baby, the Metaverse.

Horizon Worlds, the name of Meta’s new virtual space, slashed its target for monthly active users to only 280,000 monthly from an initial 500,000. In reality, the space is only attracting about 200,000 people at the time of writing.

Investors are getting increasingly impatient with Zuckerberg and his metaverse.

Old Facebook Profitable While Meta's Metaverse Bleeds Investor Billions

What will it be? Facebook 2.0? Or something completely different?

While it generally takes longer in Silicon Valley to build a business, Wall Street tends to value businesses based on nearer returns rather than foggier forecasts that stretch out for years.

It’s a view Kagan shares too.

“However, every new technology takes years to first convince the marketplace of users, workers and investors, and then to create something that captures the imagination of the marketplace,” Kagan says.

“Smartphones had been with us for more than a decade or two to one degree or another with Blackberry, Palm Pilot and others. The marketplace now understood the smartphone marketplace, so when the Apple iPhone and Google Android were released, they were an instant success.”

Even Zuckerberg realises this now.

“There is still a long road ahead to build the next computing platform, but we are clearly doing leading work here,” he said. “This is a massive undertaking and it will often take a few versions of each product before they become mainstream.”

If he gets it rights, he reckons it is going to be of “historic importance”, adding it will create an entirely new way humans interact with each other “as well as a foundation for the long term of our business.” 

Rumors of Zuckerberg stepping down

For the first time in years rumors that Zuckerberg could be made to walk the plank, have emerged as investor concerns rise with falling earnings.

Meta's Metaverse Bleeds Investor Billions

Infinity, or a pair of glasses?

Meta’s director of communications, Andy Stone, made the unusual decision to publicly respond to unsubstantiated market rumors that claimed Zuckerberg could step down as the group’s CEO during 2023. 

In response to the rumor, Stone wrote on Twitter, “this is false.”

For FY23, Zuckerberg is being coy about the metaverse, preferring to focus on what he described as a “small number of high priority growth areas.”

This, he says, will involve working on the “AI discovery engine powering Reels”  and other “recommendation experiences, our ads and business messaging platforms and the metaverse.”

In a way, it is a return to the basics.

Also Meta is laying off 13% of its staff, or more than 11000 employees, Zuckerberg announced last week.

“Layoffs might appease investors for a bit, but the overall move away from the metaverse project and focusing on core revenue generating products will be the only way to save things,” Kagan concluded.

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Metaverse

Invisible Universe steps into the metaverse

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Invisible Universe, an internet-first animation studio, released The R3al Metaverse. The initiative will mint 7200 Producer Pass NFTs, allowing the community to influence the show’s creative direction and have their NFTs animated.

The R3al Metaverse parodies top reality house shows like “The Real World” or “Big Brother” and follows five NFT characters who move to Los Angeles from the metaverse. The 3D-rigged, professionally-voiced cast comprises characters from Bored Ape Yacht Club, World of Women, Doodles, Cool Cats, and Robotos. Fans will root for their favorites as they become friends, quarrel, make up, make jokes, make blunders, and maybe make out.

Alexis Ohanian, founder of Seven Seven Six and investor in Invisible Universe, said other animated programs take years to develop and market. Invisible Universe can debut a whole series and NFT collection in months.

Producers Pass NFT holders can write confessional interviews and create storylines following the series debut. The Producers Pass NFTs, created by award-winning artists and animators, combine iconic Los Angeles sites and the cast into a Twitter banner. NFT holders of the five towns featured in the first season may see their character animated and incorporated into the programme for a cameo.

Invisible Universe has built memorable animated IP on social media

“We approach storytelling without ego, listening to what the community loves and wants more of.” Tricia Biggio, CEO of Invisible Universe, believes the next generation of customers will want more involvement in entertainment franchises. “This series has infinite potential for a spinoff, new characters, or a longer run. Season 2 and beyond will depend on our community.”

Invisible Universe is contextualizing NFTs, communities, and the metaverse so consumers can grasp web3 on traditional media. The animation company applied lessons from Qai Qai, Squeaky & Roy, Clydeo, and Ember. The R3al Metaverse will feature new characters who will spin off into their own shows or planets, like Invisible Universe’s present characters.

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Venice Immersive Island metaverse experience

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Virtual reality is only one of the immersive experience at Venice. On a little island near the Lido, festivalgoers can enter the metaverse. They can “globe hop” with a tour guide, dress up with background dancers, or assist Coco Chanel create Chanel No. 5. When Venice’s virtual program went virtual, the forms also changed. Venice Immersive is the new name for the program’s return to the Lazzaretto Vecchio.

Reilhac: “We wanted to highlight how swiftly the field is diversifying.” “We didn’t want to focus on one technology like VR, but on all kinds of immersive experiences”

Some of the 43 projects require VR. Some are 360-degree installations, others offer “mixed reality.”

One of their most ambitious endeavors has been committing to delivering tours of virtual worlds to small groups. Worlds means a virtual space where people can gather, such as a beach, woodland, or science fiction world. Reilhac said users can play mini golf or train dogs in the worlds. Worlds and world-hopping are best experienced in Venice Immersive.

The curators say “Framerate: Pulse of the Earth” shows the possibilities of this art genre. The 3D-scanned creation features changing sceneries”.”Framerate” director Matthew Shaw wants to show natural and human-caused changes to the globe. “We see destruction, extraction, occupancy, harvests, growth, and erosion.”

“Framerate” audiences enter a dark room surrounded by displays that operate as “holographic portals” into huge panoramas, such as a 200-foot cliff decaying and crumbling into the sea or a forest altering over a year. Users can stand anywhere in the room and focus on the cliff or a pebble.

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