The XR Week Peek (2022.07.11): Meta removes Facebook login on Quest, Cambria may launch without controllers, and more!
Written by Tim Hartwell on August 6, 2022
I send you all a big hug for the beginning of this new week! I hope this news roundup may give you some interesting info about XR… and also some smiles 🙂 Enjoy your summer!
Top news of the week
Meta to substitute mandatory Facebook account with mandatory Meta account on Quest
This week finally Meta has given us a follow-up on its previous promise of removing the mandatory Facebook login on Oculus Quest. And the big news is that next month, this rule will be removed, and finally, the VR headset will be separated from the social media, with much rejoice of many people in the VR community.
Anyway, personal accounts on Quest aren’t going anywhere: every Quest user should create a mandatory Meta account, and also a mandatory Meta Horizon profile, which will be used every time you access the Horizon social VR worlds. It is optional for users to link the Meta account to the Facebook/Instagram accounts and have access to additional services. In August, all users will have to create these new Meta accounts: in 2023, Oculus accounts are not going to work anymore, as previously stated.
On paper, this seems all good. In reality, I’ve commented on the news with much sarcasm, because a Meta account looks to me just a “same same but different but still the same” approach of the Facebook account. Meta is still Facebook’s parent company, and once your data has entered Meta’s systems, who knows what happens. Plus, these years I’ve got to notice that Meta/Facebook always applies the “boiling frog” strategy with us users, so I guess that in the next years we will see this Meta account always more involved with ads, data profilation, integration with other Meta services (e.g. Facebook itself), and similar practices. I hope to be wrong, but I remember when we were all promised that we would have never needed a Facebook account to use an Oculus headset… and then we slowly got there over the years.
But even if on the privacy side little has changed with this switch to Meta accounts, talking with the community I have been able to appreciate some good effects of this decision. The most important one is that finally your Facebook behavior is separated by your headset. It was total nonsense that if you were suspended from Facebook for something you said on social media, you were also going to lose all the games you bought on your VR headset. Finally, this thing is coming to an end. And thanks to this separation, probably the Quest could be sold again in Germany, with much happiness from my German friends.
Furthermore, the Meta account has no “real name” policy. And it will be easier to create multiple accounts for multiple headsets in educational contexts, like universities.
At the end of the day, it is so a positive change, and we should all be happy about it. But I also think we should keep an eye open about what will happen in the future.
Other relevant news
Project Cambria may be called Quest Pro and come without controllers
We have two new interesting rumors about Project Cambria, the high-end headset from Meta coming this autumn.
The headset, according to Bloomberg, will be called “Meta Quest Pro”, something which wouldn’t surprise us much, considering we were already expecting this name last year. The headset is still poised to cost more than $1000 and target a prosumer/enterprise audience.
Youtuber Sadly It’s Bradley claims to have had a tip about the headset coming at launch without controllers. He says that the device should feature crazy good hand tracking and rely only on hands for many tasks. Krzysztof Wrona made me notice that someone on Reddit found a hidden setting on Quest to emulate controllers with hands, and this can be useful to let people on Cambria play Quest content even without controllers.
I don’t know if believing such a rumor or not: launching without controllers would be quite weird, in my opinion, also because 90% of the experiences on the Quest Store need controllers to work, and controllers emulation with the hand would be suboptimal to play games (it would be less reliable ad without haptics). This would limit a lot of the uses of Cambria. But on the other side, if it happened, I wouldn’t be very surprised, because in the enterprise world hand tracking is better than controllers, so if the target market is the one of the companies, this choice may have sense.
I guess we’ll see if these rumors are correct in October…
The Digital Markets Act may change the XR landscape
The European Union Parliament has just approved the Digital Markets Act, a law that should limit the excessive power of big-tech corporates and favor better competition in the digital field.
This law should force the major tech companies to:
- Not impose their store on devices. This means that Apple should allow sideloading on its devices, including the upcoming XR headset
- Not impose their payment systems or platform tools in general. Both Meta and Apple should let developers use the in-app-purchases tools they prefer. Also, Meta should allow cloud streaming apps on Quest
- Not use the data they own to have a competitive advantage over other products on their platforms
- Favor interoperability of their services. So a messaging service from these platforms should be able to exchange messages with another messaging service produced by another company. Imagine a user on Telegram being able to send and receive messages from someone on Whatsapp
Seeing this in perspective, this could be a little revolution that influences also how the future metaverse will roll out: with less strict control of platform holders, and more interoperability.
News worth a mention
Someone claims to have run Quest content on a Nolo Sonic headset
A video coming from China shows a guy using the game Beat Saber, which is exclusive on Quest, on the Nolo Sonic standalone headset. This hacker has extracted the APK of the game from the Quest, then he has made a special application elaborate it, and installed a working version of it on his Nolo Sonic device. After that, he was able to play the game on the Chinese headset. To prove that everything works, he is sharing both the APK of Beat Saber and the special conversion application, for free for everyone on his Baidu Cloud account.
All the above paragraph probably includes 784 violation of Copyright laws and 215 of Meta Terms Of Service… but it is China, and there, Copyright is more a kind suggestion than a law (and the video has been seen by only 1800 people, which for Chinese standards are like 1 person for Italian standards). But if we ignore for a moment the legal aspect of it, we can say that it is kind of an achievement. I have not been able to verify that the system works (I don’t even have a Nolo Sonic), but if it does, it could be big trouble for Meta. If hackers find a way to make Meta exclusive content like Beat Saber to work on other headsets, Meta could lose one of the biggest competitive advantages of Quest 2. Of course, it wouldn’t be legal to use such cracks, but some people could still take advantage of these systems. Let’s see if such things are going to happen or not.
How to improve throwing in VR games
Oliver Kreylos, the famous “Doc Ok” of VR, is back with a series of super-nerdy Youtube videos about virtual reality. In his latest one, he explains why developing the throwing mechanic in VR games is complicated, and how to fix it. I think most developers should have a look at it.
VR Mods of Take-Two games are at risk
Luke Ross, the most famous modder of the VR scene has just announced that Take-Two has sent him a cease-or-desist notice to ask him to unpublish all the VR mods related to its games (like Grand Theft Audio and Red Dead Redemption 2).
I think there was a bit of ingenuity on Luke’s side because he started accepting interviews with all magazines about how he earns $20K/month making mods of famous games and this has of course triggered some major studios. On the personal side, though, I hope he will reach an agreement with these companies since he’s really making a huge service for the VR community and he’s giving a new life to these games.
Some articles on the metaverse
This week I’ve read two interesting articles about the M-word:
- A long report about fashion and commerce in the metaverse by Cathy Hackl. It doesn’t say anything new, in my opinion, but it is well written so that to be understood by white collar people. If you are a businessman, you may find this interesting;
- An editorial on AR Insider about Meta wanting a more open metaverse not because it is a good company, but because business-wise this would give more value to Meta and its virtual platforms. If a platform is 100% closed, it can’t access external users and attract them, so it has less growth potential.
Pico Neo 3 Link adds TikTok support
The latest update of Pico Neo 3 Link has added integration with TikTok. You can use TikTok in VR, and probably soon you will be able to stream your VR headset content to TikTok. Bytedance is doing with the Pico Neo the same thing that Meta did with the Quest, adding more integration with the social media. You decide if it is a good thing or not.
(Thanks Lazius for the tip!)
Nofio wants to make your Index wireless
A new startup, called Nofio, wants to start a Kickstarter campaign about an adapter able to finally make the Valve Index wireless. Probably too little, too late, but still an interesting piece of news for Index owners.
VRTO is back
On July, 20–21, the VRTO (Virtual Reality Toronto) is back with its usual quality speakers. I’ve been honored to be part of it 2–3 years ago, and I’m sure that this edition will be cool again.
UltimateXR is the new toolkit for VR developers
We XR developers have various tools and plugins we can use for interactions, and now there is a new one in the field: UltimateXR. The developers are a studio creating B2B experiences that created this plugin for themselves and now they are releasing it for free to the community. It includes facilities for full-body avateering, interactions, locomotions, and much more! It looks very cool and I’m going to test it myself quite soon…
Some news on content
- Ruinsmagus has been reviewed by all the major VR magazines. It seems a nice game with a very interesting anime setting, but it’s also a bit repetitive
- There are new trailers available for the upcoming The Twilight Zone VR
- CCP Games is going to definitely shutting down the servers of EVE:Valkyrie and Sparc, de facto killing one of the first big VR multiplayer games
- Dream Tango Ascension is a “celestial wave shooter” available on App Lab
Youtubers Cas&Chary made a great comparison of the currently two most popular cloud rendering services for Quest: Plutosphere and Shadow
Someone shared on Twitter some concepts about the old VR application about Halo, codenamed Reverie, which should have been released in 2017
Epic MetaHuman now can import the mesh scan of real people
Kopin has shown its latest advancement in lens manufacturing and microdisplays
Matthew Ball has written a new book about the Metaverse and the first reviews about it are very positive
A nice analysis of the object tracking libraries for AR
News from partners (and friends)
Discover the new trailer of Planet Mojo
The developers behind Planet Mojo, the upcoming online game based on the blockchain and a bit of AR, have just released a new trailer of it, and it looks pretty cool.
Kayo Games bring MCAS Simulation to Steam
Kayo Games is a studio that wants to bring edutainment content to various application stores. It has just released MCAS Simulation, an experience to explain how the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) of airplanes work and how it led to the recent Boeing 737 MAX crashes.
Wandering In Space is a successful Chinese VR games
Wandering in Space is a virtual reality first-person shooter featuring role-playing and roguelike elements. It has been published on Steam by Moonseer games, and it has climbed to the top 10 of Steam charts in China.
Learn more (Trailer)
Learn more (Steam page)
Some XR fun
When you want to play Beat Saber but you are too lazy for that
You can be cool, but you can’t be velociraptor-riding-a-motorcycle-while-wearing-a-vr-headset kind of cool…
A quite offensive and non-politically-correct video about Zuck and his announcement of Meta. It contains ads jokes of course…
An AI meme
The metaverse is the future of the internet, or whatever
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