XR developer platform 8th Wall has just announced a partnership with cross-platform avatar builder Ready Player Me. To be fair, the list of companies compatible with Ready Player Me is growing all the time. However, there are a few things about the two companies that make this partnership particularly special.
I Want to Talk About Ready Player Me
To really understand the importance of this announcement, we have to make sure that we’re on the same page regarding Ready Player Me. The outfit allows users to make a 3D avatar starting from a photo. From there, they can change the avatar as well as its outfits.
If this sounds familiar, it could be because you’ve probably done it quite a few times already – making an avatar is a common first step when stepping into a new VR platform. But, this isn’t a VR platform. This avatar you build once and then take it into a rapidly growing number of compatible platforms including Mozilla Hubs and VRChat.
More than that, the service features a MetaMask integration that allows users to equip their avatars with virtual items minted as NFTs on Ethereum. As many platforms as Ready Player Me is partnered with, so far all are either Web3D or dedicated VR applications. Until now.
A Refresher on 8th Wall
We’re not going to spend so much time introducing the WebAR company 8th Wall because, if you’re a regular reader of ARPost, you probably know the name pretty well already. However, there is one important company update from a few months back that you might have missed.
On the first day of the 2021 Augmented World Expo (AWE), 8th Wall used back-to-back sessions to announce their new “Reality Engine.” This replaced 8th Wall’s existing “AR Engine” instantly turning the AR company into an XR company. 8th Wall experiences now work not just on mobile phones, but also in desktop 3D web viewers and on VR and MR headsets.
“Whenever we’re thinking about what the next generation of the web looks like, we have to accommodate new devices in our design,” Lead Product Designer, Rigel Benton, said in his AWE talk. “The Reality Engine allows you to build a WebAR product and then, whenever you publish it, it automatically configures to those different form functions and input methods.”
8th Wall demoed the Reality Engine the following day on the AWE Expo floor with Summit Scramble. “The world’s first immersive, cross-platform web game” was created in partnership with AirCards, also allowed users to play as Ready Player Me avatars, and even showcased 8th Wall-branded clothing items in the platform.
Why the Partnership Matters
It may sound like 8th Wall and Ready Player Me are already partners. They worked together on Summit Scramble, but the integrations that they announced today go a lot further than that.
“Avatars play a critical role in our digital identity and giving users the ability to create, customize, and engage their avatar in 8th Wall-powered projects will make these experiences even more personal and meaningful,” 8th Wall founder and CEO, Erik Murphy-Chutorian, said in a release shared with ARPost.
Even the two companies have likely only scratched the surface on what the full integration means. Example use cases spelled out in the release include using the 8th Wall Engine to create face effects turning a user into their avatar, or creating world effects that allow the user to place their 3D avatar into their physical environment.
“We are excited to continue our collaboration with 8th Wall. Their tools make it easy for WebAR developers to turn their ideas into reality and share them with the world,” Ready Player Me CEO and co-founder, Timmu Tõke, said in the release. “We can’t wait to see how 8th Wall’s developer community utilizes Ready Player Me avatars in their experiences.”
Is This the Metaverse?
Ready Player Me has been making VR experiences more interoperable for a while now. But, their cross-platform solution combined with 8th Wall’s hardware-agnostic Reality Engine is definitely a step toward a more nuanced augmented future.