It wouldn’t be a week in XR unless Meta was making news. This week brings the showdown with the FTC to the federal courthouse in San Jose. The FTC has sued to block Meta’s acquisition of Within, the VR company behind the hit fitness game “Supernatural,” for $400M. It’s been a while since there’s been any kind of enforcement of antitrust laws, this seems an unlikely place to draw the line.

The FTC just sued to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision, so I’m looking at the Meta-Within suit as a sort of test run by the government, before taking on Microsoft’s $69 BILLION deal, which involves the second biggest game company (Microsoft) buying the fifth largest (Activision), creating the world’s largest game company. Meta would rank fortieth on that list of game companies. Within wouldn’t be on the list.

Writers have not stopped finding ways to kick Meta while it’s down. This Week in Schadenfreude is below.

Epic Games rolls out limited accounts to protect young ‘Fortnite’ Players In the Metaverse. The kids’ account requires parental consent before making purchases in the Fortnite store, or using voice chat. Good on Epic for addressing the elephant in the room. Children, young teens, are hanging out in the Metaverse with adult strangers, something their parents would never condone in the physical world. Child advocates are on the case.

Gorillaz ​announced it will do a live performance in Augmented Reality next week in New York​’s Times Square (2:30 p.m. Eastern on December 17) and Piccadilly Circus in London (2 p.m. GMT on December 18). ​Users in those locations at those precise times can use their smartphone camera to see the cartoon band, which has always performed as avatars. The AR performances will be directed by Gorillaz co-creator Jamie Hewlett and Fx Goby, and created by Nexus Studios using Google’s AR tech.

The Big Theme of Snap’s Lensfest Developer Conference was Monetization. Some creators will now be able to make money off in-app lenses. It’s the start of a business Snap hopes will make its platform the center of an AR universe. They’re trying to build a creator economy to reward the most popular of its 300,000 lens developers before they decide to develop elsewhere.

Samsung’s New XR HMD May Launch Dev Kit Next Year Just a rumor, but with some credibility. Samsung has been working with Meta since 2014, first on its GearVR, which reached its peak of 5M users in 2016. It was officially discontinued in 2020. Their last stab at making their own VR device was in 2018, when they released the Odyssey for WindowsMR.

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Epic Games’ RealityScan app turns photos into 3D models now available FREE on iOS If you’re a fan of Metascan, their app for making volumetric captures, then you’re going to love this app: it’s even easier and faster.

Howie Mandel gets a digital twin from DeepBrain AI The company applies deep-learning technology to create hyper realistic virtual humans through its AI Studios and the AI Human platforms. These virtual humans are digital twins of the real person, with the same appearance, voice, gestures and subtle mannerisms.

Shapeyard, a new 3D model creation app for iPhones, is offering free lifetime premium subscriptions that usually go for $124.99 per year, to 1600 creators to jump start its modeling community. The company was a recent graduate of the Nvidia accelerator program. Shapeyard execs say their goal is to grow into a network of high-quality 3D assets available for implementation in the rapidly growing metaverse space.

​​Apple’s Rumored AR/VR Headset May Be Delayed In what should be a surprise to absolutely no one, a noted Apple analyst says the highly anticipated headset likely won’t arrive in mass volumes until the second half of 2023.

Golf+ Adds Pebble Beach to its inventory of class golf courses you can play in VR. Sports simulation games are among the most popular in the Quest store. Since launch one year ago Golf+ CEO Ryan Engle says over 550M shots have been hit and over 6M rounds of golf played. In addition to Pebble, Golf+ launched Pinehurst today as well. Kiawah came out in May, which brings the total to 8 full 18 hole courses, five of them are real world championship courses. Golf+ added celebrity investors like Rory McIroy and Jordan Speith in its recent funding round.

This Week in XR is also a podcast hosted by the author of this column, Ted Schilowitz, Head of Future Technologies at Paramount Global, and Rony Abovitz, founder of Magic Leap. This week our guest is Hendrik Witt, Chief Product Officer of Teamviewer. We can be found on Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube.

What We’re Reading

Fashion in the Metaverse from DressX (Katherine Dill/Wall St. Journal)

This Week in Schadenfreude

How Web Platforms Collapse: The Facebook Case Study (Ted Gioia/Honest Broker)

Meta’s Cringey Avatars Are Finally Headed to WhatsApp (Kyle Barr/Gizmodo)

‘The metaverse will be our slow death!’ Is Facebook losing its $100bn gamble on virtual reality? (Steve Rose/The Irish Times)

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