Welcome back to Spatial Beats, now with more AI news and insights. On that note, Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, testified in front of the US Senate last week, advocating for licenses to regulate AI development. This initiative aims to ensure responsible and ethical practices in the field by subjecting developers to a rigorous evaluation process. The proposed licensing framework seeks to strike a balance between unlocking the potential of AI and addressing potential risks. While senators seem appropriately concerned, there’s little chance of swift action. The EU has AI Regulations on a fast track.
In the middle of all this, Meta has dealt the world an enormous wild card, releasing its latest large AI to the public for free. No one knows what will happen as a result of this. Maybe nothing. Or maybe they’ve just guaranteed a deep fake election. According to the New York Times, Meta’s open source approach contrasts sharply with the more cautious, secretive inclinations of OpenAI and Google. With Open Source models like this and Stable Diffusion already out there, it may be impossible to get the Genie back into the bottle.
ChatGPT Is To Add Internet. Yes! Everyone knows that OpeAI’s ChatGPT weakness is that only current through 2021. This is a big disadvantage over its two biggest competitors. Bing, and Bard, which both search the current internet and provide links to references. The new web browsing plugins, now available in beta, aren’t working for me yet, and I’m a paid member.
Samsung Acquires eMagin Microdisplay Maker for $218M. Founded in 2001, eMagin creates high-density OLED microdisplays for use in VR and AR hardware. For twenty years eMagin has been providing displays for aircraft helmets, heads-up display systems, thermal scopes, night vision goggles, and other systems.
Much-Anticipated Apple Mixed Reality HMD to debut June 5th. Palmer Lucky made quite a stir this week when he declared he had seen the new Apple device and knighted it with the superlative “so good.” It is indeed unfortunate timing that the expected unveiling is just days before Augmented World Expo (AWE).
Disney’s Two-Day Star Wars Galactic Cruise Experience Is Closing. That was gone almost as fast as the recently ousted former Iger heir Bob Kapek, who was a promoter of the project. Turns out most of the people who want a two-day cosplay Star Wars Experience can’t afford a $5,000/night Star Wars hotel.
‘AI-powered’ VC firm Vela emerges from stealth with $25M under management. Vela uses predictive algorithms to identify trends, opportunities and threats to its existing investments. Vela trains its model on content drawn from websites like Crunchbase, and social networks. Founded by x-Googler Yiğit Ihlamur, Vela is an early-stage VC with $25 million under management and 32 portfolio companies, including self-checkout startup Grabango and robotics firm Bear Robotics.
Augmented World Expo, the largest event in the world focused exclusively on XR, takes place right after the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, from May 31 – June 2nd. Over 5,000 people are expected in Santa Clara, CA to attend the 14th annual event to hear keynotes from Neal Stephenson, Rony Abovitz, John Riccetelo, and Peggy Johnson, as well as 450 other speakers in four tracks. The Expo features over 300 exhibitors. Other features of the annual event include the Startup Pitch Competition, the coveted Auggie Awards for achievements in XR hardware and software, and this year there is a special $100,000 prize for the best proposal to use of AR to further ecological sustainability.
Sightful emerged from stealth yesterday with $61 M in VC money and a new Spacetop PC. The new device replaces the monitor with Nreal glasses that show the user multiple screens. The Tel-Aviv-based company was founded by ex-Magic Leap executives Tamir Berliner (CEO) and Tomer Kahan (COO). They are only making 1000 Sightful Spacetops available via an Early Adopter program, to which you can apply on their website to receive your new Spacetop by July. Feedback from EAs will be used to refine the production model.
TikTok is introducing a fund to reward AR Creators. The Rewards Fund is a six million dollar pile of cash set aside to compensate creators of Effects House AR content, which launched last year to compete with Meta’s Spark AR, which makes mobile AR effects for Instagram and Snap Lens Studio which does the same for Snapchat. Effects videos are popular on TikTok, and the company wants to see more of them. By financially incentivizing creators, TikTok may lure popular creators from other platforms
Campfire Opens Its Collaboration Platform To All Devices. The two-year-old holographic collaboration system is comprised of a multi-platform app for PC, Mac, and iPad and a newly optional specialized XR headset for PC. Hybrid teams can now collaborate using 3D models and scans with the simplicity of modern 2D collaboration tools, and experience high-fidelity holograms in meetings that require face-to-face communication. The multi-platform experience can be accessed with a simple link, making it as easy as opening a Google Doc. Rather than opening a 2D document, users join a 3D scene.
KitBash3D Introduces Cargo, An Asset Store for the Metaverse. The company is known for creating 3D art assets it sells as themed packages like contemporary New York or Hong Kong, and themed kits like Medieval Siege, Shogun, Americana, and Cyberpunk. Their art appears in Hollywood movies like Dr. Strange, Black Adam and Spider-Man, TV shows like The Last of Us, and AAA video games like Elder Scrolls. It is also available to students, indies, and hobbyists for under $100. And they’re always giving away kits for non-commercial use, too. But sometimes you just need a period bike, or steampunk hovercar, not a whole kit.
Virtue One Gaming Glasses Now Available. The $439 gaming glasses are finally out. I demoed it at CES using a tiny Steam Deck, which in the glasses appreciated to be a 120” screen. With a wireless neckband accessory you can configure your Playstation 5 for cloud gaming.
JR Reality is launching to the public in New York City. Led by the artist known as JR, the project offers an interactive platform for people to chronicle their cities. Leveraging Niantic’s VPS, the app identifies points of interest so that all mobile devices can share the same frame of reference even on massive scales. Users are invited to attach a portrait (or AR mural, as we’re calling it) and/or personal audio bite to a geo-mapped location, leaving behind digital keepsakes for others to uncover. The app is on Google Play and the App Store.
Google Reveals Latest Project Starline Prototype, Its Light-field Telepresence Platform. The project aims to create an immersive communication experience by utilizing 3D imaging and rendering techniques. The prototype includes a specialized light field display, depth sensors, and cameras to capture and reproduce realistic representations of individuals in real-time. Project Starline aims to bridge physical distance, allowing people to interact as if they were in the same room. While still in the experimental stage, Google’s progress in telepresence technology shows promise for transforming remote communication and collaboration. The ongoing developments in Project Starline highlight Google’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of telepresence and redefining how we connect with others from a distance.
Meta and BMW To Sync VR Headset To Movement of Car. Holoride got there first when it introduced a system with Audi in 2021. The showcase demonstrated how XR can enhance navigation, communication, and entertainment while driving. This collaboration highlights the ongoing exploration of VR/AR technologies within the automotive industry and their potential to transform the way we engage with vehicles. The scientists in the video have no idea when their research will be productized, “if it ever is,” said one.
Just Calm Down About GPT-4 Already (IEEE Spectrum)
We need to tell a better story about the metaverse (Immersive Wire)
The Metaverse Was Never Alive in the First Place (Wired)
Is the metaverse dead? Depends on who you ask (The Toronto Star)
A moment’s silence, please, for the death of Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse (The Guardian)
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.