Welcome back to Spatial Beats. This week, we dive into Snap’s new AR Spectacles, Google I/O takeaways and Digilens’ new reference frames. Let’s dive in…

Snap released details on its coming 3.0 version of Specs, its AR glasses, which are now in the hands of select developers. The company set aside a billion dollars to develop AR devices last year, and has made a dozen acquisitions in the past five years to add firepower to this effort. Specs have received a significant upgrade and can now actually show users AR.

As an encore, Snap announced it had acquired WaveOptics, the UK-based maker of AR waveguide displays for its Specs, for $500 million in cash and stock.

This week at Google I/O, their annual conference focused on the press, analysts and developers, the company made two important XR announcements, the first an upgrade to mobile AR maps (Google Live Maps) and then a photorealistic volumetric telepresence system named Starline.

Starline promises telepresence technology to reimage video conferencing as we’ve never seen. It looks so real because the video participants are being scanned in 3D. The model is then compressed and shared to the network for display by participants.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers does not appear to be impressed by Epic’s anti-trust case against the App Store. Epic tried to establish that Apple is an “essential utility,” meaning infrastructure that can be uncompetitively withheld, like a bridge, but it just wasn’t landing. So far, it appears Epic has done an unconvincing job portraying themselves as powerless entrepreneurs being oppressed by the greedy man. Now we’re about to hear from celebrity CEO, Tim Cook, which could be the most important testimony of this bench trial.

On the more comical side of the news, Unreal is suing Chinese smartglasses maker Nreal because the brand names are too similar and will cause confusion. We were not confused. In fact, it didn’t even occur to us that the names are similar. Although, now that you mention it, it is a bit like wear and where. Epic must have a big legal department.

Walmart acquires virtual clothing try-on startup Zeekit. The app allows shoppers to try on clothing while shopping online. It leverages real-time imaging, AI, and computer vision to show someone what they would look like in the item, taking into account body dimensions, size of the clothing, and the fabric of the product.

Blackrock Neurotech, a BCI (brain-computer interface) technology company, today closed a $10M round of funding led by Christian Angermayer’s re.Mind Capital with participation from Peter Thiel, German entrepreneur Tim Sievers, and Sorenson Impact’s University Venture Fund II. On one hand, they’re going head-to-head with Elon Musk’s Neurlink, which has raised $158M at a $500M valuation, according to Pitchbook. On the other hand, Neuralink gives Neurotech a successful, better-financed competitor in a category that is going to support more than one unicorn and, inevitably, will attract the biggest tech companies in the world.

Digilens introduces new reference design for stand-alone AR Smartglasses. Ben Lang of Road to VR got a hands-on demo with the new headset, which is based on the Qualcomm XR2 platform which powers Digilens’ proprietary Waveguide lenses.

New Quest features roll out: Live overlay, new infinite office features, coming in this new update. Soon, you will be able to superimpose your real self into a virtual world through Oculus casting. In addition, voice will finally be recorded with casting — a huge cheer from the crowds. In Infinite Office, you will be able to see phone notifications from the headset, have an organized files app, and have an easier passthrough shortcut.

LifeAR app by TeamViewer launched this week on iOS and Android, turning video calls into AR interactive experiences. AR meets Quicktime as the enterprise see-what-I-see tech merges with mobile AR creative tools. Friends can respond to questions with emojis or reactions which then are displayed through AR on smartphones.

Former Oculus chief Hugo Barra has announced he’s left Facebook in a blog post. The Oculus Go was launched under his watch. For the past year he’s been VP of Facebook Reality Labs partnerships. Barra says he’s moving into the healthcare technology space.

The VR/AR Global Online Summit returns June 2-4th. This is its second year virtual following a surprisingly strong online conference last spring, which had 14,000 attendees. The event will open with leading voices in the VR and AR industry speaking on the theme “The Time Is Now.” Speakers including Ted Shilowitz, Kent Bye, Mike Boland, Amy Peck, Anne Ahola Ward, and Tom Ffiske. 

VRTO 2021 presents the Flotilla – The International Symposium on Immersive Media Arts & Technologies running June 2-8th. This unique event is known for its interactive sessions & workshops, networking, & virtual world-hopping to custom spaces curated & crafted by international thought leaders. In addition to Micro-Summits on the Digital Asset Economy, advancements in Virtual Production & Humans, and Accessibility considerations, VRTO will bring together top developers of t popular titles like Audio Trip, BoomBox, Until You Fall, and Synth Rider.

This Week in XR is now a podcast hosted by Paramount’s Futurist Ted Schilowitz and Charlie Fink, the author of this weekly column. You can find it on podcasting platforms Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube. Watch the latest episode below.

Charlie Fink is an author and futurist focused on spatial computing. See his books here. Spatial Beats contains insights and inputs from Fink’s collaborators including Paramount Pictures futurist Ted Shilowitz.

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