High Fidelity Gets $35 Million in Venture Capital

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The technology news website TechCrunch is reporting today that social VR company High Fidelity is receiving 35 million dollars in venture captial funding:

High Fidelity, a social VR startup founded by one of Second Life’s original creators has bagged a $35 million Series D led by Blockchain investment firm Galaxy Digital Ventures. Also participating in the round were Breyer Capital, IDG Capital Partners, Vulcan Capital and Blockchain Capital.

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High Fidelity Pick of the Day: The Spot

The Spot is a new meeting hub in the virtual world of High Fidelity, complete with a futuristic café!

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The Spot has a cheerful, welcoming feel to it. The domain also offers teleporters to various other popular domains within High Fidelity:

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Drax’s Our Digital Selves Documentary is Now Available to Watch on YouTube

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Cody Lascala and Donna Davis at Linden Lab headquarters in San Francisco (still from the documentary Out Digital Selves)

Earlier this month, I had written about Draxtor Despres (a.k.a Bernhard Drax) and his documentary on the experiences of people with disabilities in virtual worlds, titled Our Digital Selves: My Avatar Is Me. Drax interviewed 13 people with a variety of disabilities for this film. Among the locations which Drax visited for this documentary were the corporate offices of High Fidelity and Linden Lab (the latter is the company behind the Second Life and Sansar platforms).

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day,  the purpose of which is to is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities. So Drac decided to release his documentary today, instead of tomorrow as he had originally intended!

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I was able to watch a preview of this documentary, and I enjoyed it very much! I think you will too.

Building a Portal Between the Real World and Social VR Spaces: SVVR’s MULTIVERSE Initiative

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A portal between High Fidelity and a real-world event (picture from the Road to VR website)

Kent Bye, in a news report on the Road to VR website, writes about the fifth anniversary of the immensely influential organization known as the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality (SVVR) meetup:

Today is the five-year anniversary for Silicon Valley Virtual Reality meetup, and founder Karl Krantz is announcing a couple of new initiatives as SVVR reorganizes itself as a public-benefit corporation. They’re going to be formally announcing their MULTIVERSE initiative that is going to be bringing Reality Portals to VR events, which will allow people virtually attend VR events put on by SVVR and others through social VR experiences like High Fidelity. They’ve created a screen that can be placed at VR events that provides a low-latency window into a VR world (and vice versa), allowing for serendipitous interactions between co-located events and the virtual attendees.

Among the first participants in this initiative will be High Fidelity, according to this press release:

Celebrating five years connecting the global VR community, SVVR is proud to announce MULTIVERSE — an open design initiative powering real-time, live event communications between real locations and virtual worlds.

Reality Portal is the first project to be launched as part of the MULTIVERSE initiative. It offers ‘natural interaction telepresence’ between people in the real world and people in remote locations, represented as avatars. Serving as a two-way window, Reality Portal enables real-time communications between real world and remote attendees and speakers at live events worldwide.

“Geography, platform fragmentation and exclusivity creates communities in isolation,” says Karl Krantz, SVVR partner and founder. “We’re offering the community an open bridge for overcoming location, closed ecosystems and toxic echo chambers. MULTIVERSE is our vision for fostering an open, sustainable and healthy future for global communications.”

Launching in late 2018, the open-source MULTIVERSE Development Kit will provide creators with everything they need to connect real locations and virtual worlds through pop-up Reality Portals and merged world spaces of their own. High Fidelity, Unity and WebVR/XR SDK support is in active development. MULTIVERSE technologies are currently utilized during live, SVVR-powered events.

“The distance between the real world and virtual reality is getting smaller every day,” said Philip Rosedale, founder and CEO of High Fidelity. “Closing that distance and making it easy for people to interact in-person and with their avatar representations interchangeably, no matter the VR platform, their equipment or location unlocks the true potential of virtual reality. Projects like MULTIVERSE, Reality Portal and the VRBA are all exciting steps along that path.”

In addition, SVVR is joining the Virtual Reality Blockchain Alliance, cofounded by open source VR platform High Fidelity. As a member of the Virtual Reality Blockchain Alliance, SVVR will work closely with the community and VRBA members to connect open metaverse platforms and services to people around the globe. Current VRBA members include High Fidelity, JanusVR and Somnium Space.

I wrote about the Virtual Reality Blockchain Alliance a while ago on this blog.

It would be fun to be able to virtually attend real-world events via this sort of portal.