Welcome back to Spatial Beats. Mobile World Congress just wrapped up in Barcelona. The most significant announcement came from mobile chip and XR chip giant Qualcomm, which announced it partnered with 7 major telecoms to advance smartphone-tethered AR glasses that will use its Snapdragon Spaces. Spaces’ XR development tools enable the dual compute needed to sustain latency-free communications for data-heavy XR applications. The operators include CMCC, Deutsche Telekom, KDDI Corporation, NTT QONOQ, T-Mobile, Telefonica, and Vodafone. All are working with Qualcomm on new XR devices, experiences, and developer initiatives.
Xiaomi shows off its new wireless AR glasses. One of the first to start using the new Snapdragon Spaces Qualcomm XR 2 framework is Xiaomi, a Chinese handset maker. The company unveiled its new prototype, called Wireless AR Glass Discovery Edition, powered by Qualcomm. The AR HMD weighs 126 grams and sports a pair of MicroLED screens with a peak brightness of 1,200 nits. The glasses have an auto-dimming feature to assist in bright light and will be gesture controlled. Xiaomi does not yet have pricing info nor a release date.
Hexa 3D Raises $20.5 Million Series A Funding Round. Hexa’s proprietary tech stack digitizes products like furniture and fashion, using existing 2D images and, with AI, creating a new 3D model. The resulting digital asset can be deployed on websites, social media platforms or in AR applications. Users control the model with their cursor, allowing them to inspect the asset from any angle. Hexa provides storage, management, distribution, and analysis of the models its customers create. The Series A round was led by Point 72 ventures and existing investors.
Avalon raises $13M to build an interoperable digital universe. The Orlando-based company, whose founders include veterans of EverQuest, Call of Duty, and Diablo announced it raised $13 M to build a new blockchain-based interoperable digital universe. Kudos for not saying “metaverse.” Bitkraft Ventures, Hashed, Delphi Digital, and Mechanism Capital led the round, with participation from Coinbase Ventures, Yield Guild Games, Merit Circle, Avocado Guild and Morningstar Ventures.
Meta’s AR/VR hardware roadmap for the next four years. Somehow The Verge’s Alex Heath has burrowed into Meta Reality Labs, and each week brings us new tidbits from the soap opera in Menlo Park. This week he’s got details of a presentation shared with thousands of employees in Meta’s Reality Labs Tuesday, during a product roadmap presentation. Among other things, the Meta revealed it has sold twenty million headsets, exceeding optimistic estimates. The Quest 3 is coming out later this year, competitively priced at ~$500. It will be thinner, lighter, and have improved pass-through cameras like the Quest Pro. Alex Himel, the company’s vice president for AR, said the third generation of the Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses will ship with a display in 2025. He also said Meta continues working on a new smartwatch to accompany its 2025 glasses.
Meta’s Population: One VR Battle Royale Changes Pricing Strategy. The game is now free, but you’ll pay for everything else. Fortnite makes much more money this way. Also, for a social world like Pop 1 to truly scale, it will have to be filled with UGC. Builders need to be paid. By other users. With the host acting as a bank. Yes, like Second Life.
VR Film Producer Ed Saatchi Announces AI Film White Mirror, a feature-length anthology film consisting of ten short films made with AI, explores the relationship between man and machine. The Emmy Award-winning producer has partnered with a new production and venture studio, CHAPTR.
Snapchat is releasing its own AI chatbot powered by ChatGPT. Only available to Snapchat Plus subscribers, Snapchat’s “My AI” bot will be pinned to the app’s chat tab. Snap’s implementation treats generative AI more like a persona. Alex Heath of The Verge says the AI’s profile page looks like any other Snapchat user’s profile, albeit a Bitmoji. Snap is one of the first clients of OpenAI’s new enterprise tier called Foundry, which lets companies run its latest GPT-3.5 model with dedicated compute designed for large workloads.
Flipside XR is a new, free virtual studio app launching on the Quest which provides creators of live content a way of performing inside VR as an avatar and streaming it out to all social platforms. V-Tubing is a thing, and this could unleash a new wave of personalities with Custom Characters, Sets and props, Multiple Cameras and Angles, Virtual cameras, teleprompters, lights, and 1080p output with casting to the Flipside Broadcaster app are just a few of the tools available to creators. More advanced features can be found through the app’s free Unity plug-in that gives experienced creative teams the ability to upload fully customized environments, characters and props.
What is a NeRF and how can this technology help VR, AR, and the metaverse (Alan Truly/Mixed)
Tech’s hottest new job: AI whisperer. No coding required. (Drew Harwell/Wash Post)
ChatGPT creator Sam Altman says the world may not be ‘that far away from potentially scary’ AI and feels ‘regulation will be critical’ (Huileng Tan/Insider)
Simplifying VR Collaboration And Training Space (Anshel Sag/Forbes)
This Week in Schadenfreude
Mark Zuckerberg Can’t Stop Copying the Competition. This Time It Could Be the End of Facebook (Inc.)
Facebook Is Taking the Worst Ideas From the Airline Industry (The Atlantic)
Apple analyst Kuo says low-end VR headset to launch in 2025 (CNBC)
This Week in XR is also a podcast hosted by Paramount’s Futurist Ted Schilowitz, Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz, 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.