Planet Theta: A Brief Introduction

The Planet Theta website

Planet Theta is a relatively rare use case for social virtual reality (at least, so far): dating. While many other social VR platforms can be and certainly have already been put to use for dating, the only other specific friend-making/match-making platform I can think of is Cheerio, which I wrote about here (and which I would strongly encourage you to investigate as well).

While Cheerio is already available, Planet Theta has not launched yet. FireFlare Games, the company building Planet Theta, are aiming for a Winter 2021/2022 product launch (on both Oculus and SteamVR). According to the FAQ on their website, Planet Theta will support “Oculus Quest, Oculus Quest 2, HTC Vive, HTC Vive Cosmo, HTC Vive PRo, HTC Vive Pro 2, Valve Index, and many more.”

According to their website:

PLANET THETA is a place to meet new people and create lasting relationships. Meet and match with people you choose. If you like them, you can choose to go on an experience with them. Take a walk through an enchanted forest, go grab a table at a bar, or have coffee over a game of cards. These VR Dating experiences are an opportunity for you to explore each other’s personalities and passions. We are putting human connection at the forefront of dating again. Step foot onto PLANET THETA and join the evolution.

The U.K. newspaper Daily Mail wrote about Planet Theta recently, providing a few more details on how the platform will work:

Planet Theta is the first virtual reality program dedicated to dating, designed for Oculus and Steam VR headsets by their company, FireFlare Games, which is based not in Silicon Valley but Wyoming.

While people can find love with a headset on in apps such as VRChat, Echo VR, Facebook Venues and AltSpaceVR, these aren’t specifically designed for dating, and catfishing or creating deceptive online identities is a constant issue.

“There is nothing that is well regulated and for adults only, and focused on dating…we’re the only game in town,” Mr. Crew [app developer Chris Crew] said.

On Planet Theta people can meet up in virtual nightclubs, parks, beaches and cafes, and they can use the settings to choose meeting others who live in the same area or elsewhere in the world.

And, as the developers note, there is no pandemic on Planet Theta.

First dates only last for five minutes, which Mr. Crew believes is extremely convenient.

“You can go on four or five first dates in the time it takes the average person to just get ready for one in-person date,” he said.

Unusually for a dating app, Planet Theta will encourage its users to create avatars that resemble their real-life appearance and verify that they have done so.

“We are trying to encourage people to look like themselves…what we don’t want is people to enjoy their date looking like a model and then find out they really look like normal people,” Mr. Crew said.

Hmmm, I wonder how they are going to get people to verify that their avatars look like their real-life selves! Will they be asking people to submit selfies to be checked against the avatars they create? There could be some potential problem areas here.

And, as I already said up top, Planet Theta is NOT the only social VR dating/matchmaking app; Cheerio is already up and running. It will interesting to compare and contrast the two platforms once Planet Theta launches.

I would also like to know whether Planet Theta is only for set up for heteronormative dating, or if they will support us LGBTQ folk as well?

Their website shows you a tantalizing glimpse of the wide variety of potential virtual worlds where you and your date can meet, everything from a pool room to a magical forest:

As for avatars, FireFlare Games announced a partnership back in April with Wolf3D, the company behind the Ready Player Me avatar creation and customization system now used by a growing number of metaverse platforms (and which I assume Planet Theta will use as well).

And they’re looking for beta testers! Here’s where you can sign up to be a beta tester.

For further information about this project, visit the Planet Theta website, peruse their official blog, hop into their Discord server, or follow them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. And (of course) I will be adding Planet Theta to my ever-expanding list of social VR and virtual worlds.

UPDATE Oct. 6th, 2021: I decided to sign up as a beta tester, so I will let you know how it goes!

UPDATED! The Lynx R-1 Kickstarter Campaign Starts Today

Not too long ago, I first wrote about Lynx, a brand new, open ecosystem, standalone mixed reality headset (i.e. both virtual reality and augmented reality), by a French startup company founded a couple of years ago by Stan Larroque.

Today, I learned that the Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for this device is launching today, at 7:00 p.m. CEST (which works out to noon here in Winnipeg). According to the email I received:

After months and months of work on the Lynx R-1, we are so proud to tell you that our product development (both R and D) is finished.

The Lynx R-1 is the finest hardware platform for Mixed Reality. It’s a great product for playing AR and VR games and browse the Metaverse, but also for applications in education, training and simulation that will change forever the way we interact with virtuality.

Lynx is a powerful alternative to headsets on the market that are products coming from ad companies like Facebook. Our business model is just not built on your data.

Remember this video? It was in February. Imagine what the experience feels like today after our tuning iterations and optimizations. We invited some content creators to come in our office in Paris during October to test and review with the community the Lynx R-1 headset. In the mean time, Stan, our CEO, will share with you the latest about the company tomorrow right before the launch of the Kickstarter campaign.

You can view the pre-launch Kickstarter page here (there’s not much to see yet!).

There will also be a Kickstarter launch livestream on YouTube, starting at 11:00 a.m. Winnipeg time (Central Standard Time), which you can watch here:

I’m eager to see this new headset!

For further information about this potentially game-changing product, please visit their website, or follow the project and its founder, Stan Larroque, on social media: RedditTwitterLinkedIn, or YouTube.

UPDATE 11:45 a.m.: In answering questions in the second half of the livestream video above, I learned that people wearing glasses can indeed use the Lynx R-1, and in virtual reality mode, there is a detachable foam faceplate which also accommodates glasses, and blocks out the light from the sides (something that I was wondering about myself).

Also, the company announced that virtual reality vloggers Cas and Chary and Sebastian Ang of MRTC will be among the first to review the Lynx R-1 headset. This is good news, as both channels are known to offer good, in-depth, unbiased reviews of VR/AR/MR/XR hardware and software.

The livestream has now concluded, and the Kickstarter page is due to launch within the hour! I’m so excited!

UPDATE 12:00 p.m.: And the Kickstarter page is now live! Here’s the video from the Kickstarter page:

UPDATE Oct. 6th, 2021: As of this morning, the Lynx R-1 Kickstarter has exceeded its target crowdfunding goal of €300,000, with 525 backers so far, and the campaign still has 34 days left to run! I am proud to say that I put my money where my mouth is, and I am one of those initial backers:

I expect there’s going to be some twists and turns in the Lynx saga before I get my product, but I am so firmly opposed by how Facebook/Oculus is doing business that supporting this project was an easy decision for me. And it would appear that at least 524 other people agree with me! Félicitations à Stan et à son équipe!