A wave of layoffs is hitting tech companies. It was reported this week that Unity has laid off hundreds of workers and Niantic cancels projects amidst layoffs. It’s possible this is related to recent acquisitions, but more likely the current downturn is stirring memories of the 2000 tech correction, and the decade long slog back to relevancy that followed. Ironically, this week Niantic also unveiled one of its most promising new projects.

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

Mona raised $14.6 M to build Creative Metaverse. Mona provides a platform and network for creators to build, mint 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 mint 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.

U.S. FCC commissioner wants Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores. As it turns out, they are collecting data, and they can manipulate you. Good god. This would never happen at American companies like Google and Facebook.

Apple’s AR / VR headset could release in January, analyst predicts. Ming-Chi Kuo’s latest release date is pretty specific, but analysts have gotten Apple’s AR timing hilariously wrong for more than five years. The headset is supposedly the most complicated product Apple has ever designed and may cost as much as $3,000.

Publicis’ Chief Metaverse Officer Is a Lion Named Leon. The mega agency has introduced Leon, an AI powered cartoon avatar, to help staff and clients answer questions about web3. Leon took questions from the audience at the company’s technology expo in Paris, and will have his own linkedin page.

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Mojo’s Smart Contact Lenses Begin In-Eye Testing The company’s CEO Drew Perkins wore the first fully functioning smart contact lens on his eye for the first time and wrote about it in his blog.

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

Immerse Language Learning launches on Quest.This language-learning experience was designed from the ground up for VR headsets. Immerse membership includes: 12 Live VR lessons facilitated by an expert Language Guide per month, 24/7 access to the Social lounge for Live Conversation Practice, Personalized feedback to accelerate fluency growth, and Weekly events to build new community and cultural insight 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 catch a show at 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 our guest is Quinn Taber, co-founder and CEO of Immerse, the language learning application that launched this week in the Meta Quest app store. You can find the podcast on podcasting platforms Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube.

What We’re Reading

No one Wants Brands In the Metaverse (Janko Roettgers and Nick Statt/Protocol)

A Very Brief & Incomplete History Of XR Computing — Version 1.1.2 (Rony Abovitz/Medium)

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