Welcome back to Spatial Beats. The really big news in tech world in the past week is Amazon’s acquisition of Roomba. This has raised an interesting issue because dust is not the only thing the household robot collects. It also vacuums up data, mapping your house while it cleans. That data is valuable. In other news this week, FundamentalVR raised $20M for surgical simulation. Training again is proving to be one of VR’s most important, useful, and lucrative applications.
FundamentalVR Surgical Sim Raises $20M. Their unique approach uses haptics to give users force feedback on scalpels and other instruments. The platform allows for full rehearsal of medical and surgical procedures. The investment was led by EQT Life Sciences and brings the company’s total funding to $30M.
Did Amazon Buy Roomba To Turn It Into a Household Spy? Think about it. For the last couple of years, the smart device has been lidar mapping the interior of people’s houses. “Data” is said to be one of the key assets of the robotics company sold. The firm, founded in 1990 by scientists from MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab, has sold more than 30 million units, earning a place in popular culture.
Snap plans employee layoffs after disappointing Q2 earnings. With 347 M monthly uniques the problem is not the app’s popularity. It’s with monetization. Apple’s privacy protections and the downturn in the advertising business have sapped the company’s ad-dependent business model. Snap’s accessories business (Specs, Drones) isn’t contributing anything to the bottom line, and they don’t have any other sources of revenue. The stock has cratered. Alex Heath of the Verge says rumored layoffs are inevitable.
Siggraph, the Venerated Computer Graphics Convention, Is Underway in Vancouver via blogger Tony “Skarred Ghost” Vitillo.
NVIDIA made announcements about 3D, AI, virtual beings, and, of course, the Metaverse. CEO Jensen Hwang provided an introduction.
New NVIDIA Neural Graphics SDKs Make Metaverse Content Creation Available to All Virtual Assistants and Digital Humans. It’s on Pace to Ace Turing Test With New NVIDIA Omniverse Avatar Cloud Engine
NVIDIA and Partners Build Out Universal Scene Description to Accelerate Industrial Metaverse and Next Wave of AI
Google bringing ‘Immersive Stream for XR’ to AR/VR headsets. It says it is actively working on an OpenXR client to stream XR experiences. When a smartphone connected to Google’s cloud service sends a camera pose it is instantly rendered photo-realistically on high-end computers and then streamed back down to the device, theoretically with zero latency. This could be a way the Metaverse will get to volumetric, photorealistic, real-time rendered images sooner rather than later.
Keiichi Matsuda, co-founder of Liquid City design, and director of the famous viral short film HYPER-REALITY was commissioned by John Hanke to build a location-based AR experience using Niantic’s new Lightship SDK. The installation, The Reality Channels, was unveiled at Niantic’s first developer conference, the Lightship Summit 2022, in San Francisco two months ago. Above is a video of the experience and a look at how it was made.
Rec Room launches its new game Showdown on its popular cross-platform social game platform. In it, players spawn in Sarsaparilla Springs, a western ghost town that has been transformed into a battlefield for cork-loaded 3v3 shootouts.
Pick your next virtual life from these 10 amazing MMORPGs. According to USA Today, these are the top five virtual game worlds: Final Fantasy IV, World of Warcraft, Elder Scrolls Online, Eve, and Lost Arc.
The 23rd edition of MUTEK will take place from Tuesday, August 23rd to Sunday, August 28th in Montréal’s Quartier des Spectacles. MUTEK is a Montreal-based festival dedicated to the promotion of electronic music and the digital arts. Five A/V artists were invited to transform their cutting-edge live performances into XR artworks. This project expands distribution and monetization models for both the non-profit festival and artists. The works will join the catalog of Astrea, the largest international distributor of immersive productions.
Apple’s $2000+ AR/VR Headset Will Only Have 1.5 Million Units at Launch. In what is absolutely not news, MacRumors analyst Ming-Chi Kuo wrote last Sunday that the tech giant will release less than 1.5 million units to prosumers.
Interview: Director Of HBO Doc We Met In Virtual Reality (Kyle Melnick/VRScout)
Top Meta execs flee California under Zuckerberg’s remote work policy (Theo Wayt/The New York Post)
This is how Snap is fostering the future of augmented reality (Harry McCracken/Fast Company)
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.