Welcome back to Spatial Beats. Apple introduced its new Vision Pro XR headset at the company’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in Cupertino last week, after 10 years of development, instantly making the new “spatial computing” headset the hottest topic in tech. The $3,499 Apple Vision Pro does VR and AR. Users can dial how much of each they want. Hands-on reviewers Scott Stein (CNet), and Ben Lang (Road to VR) are enthusiastic after their limited half-hour demos, but Brian X. Chen of the NY Times had a more nuanced take. In the same edition of the Times, tech columnist Kevin Roose wrote “There are plenty of reasons the Vision Pro could flop. But we shouldn’t forget that Apple has a knack for entering a product category at just the right time.”
Apple to Open Locations for Devs to Test Vision Pro This Summer, SDK This Month. The demos were impressive, but content was lacking, because Apple desperately needs developers to build apps for its new spatial computing platform.
Boom times for XR At AWE. The Augmented World Expo (AWE) wrapped its 14th annual event last Friday, June 2nd. Over 6,000 people attended to hear 450 speakers over three days, and the two-day expo had 300 exhibitors, the largest in AWE’s history.
Meta’s Quest 3 headset will launch in the fall for $499. Zuck announced this suddenly, three days before Apple’s announcement. Meta hasn’t stopped spending heavily on XR. Its Reality Labs unit reported an operating loss of $3 B in the company’s first quarter while generating $399 million in revenue. Delays in the launch of Apple’s Vision Pro (early 24) and its $3,499 base price must have them celebrating at Meta’s HQ.
Red 6 Lands $70M Series B for AR-enabled air combat training. Real planes, virtual adversaries. Any other week this would have been our lead story. RedBird Capital Partners led the financing round, in which Lockheed Martin‘s venture capital arm and Boeing‘s investment partnership with AE Industrial Partners participated. I took a training flight with Red6 last November to see its AR air combat training in action.
Paradromics: Brain-Computer Interface Company Secures $33 M Series A. Paradromics has developed a system that translates brain signals into speech and movement in real-time so patients suffering from debilitating conditions like ALS, spinal cord injury, and stroke can still communicate. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted their Connexus DDI “Breakthrough Device Designation,” which offers an expedited review process. The round was led by Prime Movers Lab. Additional investors in this round include Westcott Investment Group, Dolby Family Ventures, and Green Sands Equity. The new funding round will help Paradromics launch its first-in-human clinical trial for the Connexus Direct Data Interface (DDI).
Apple buys Mira AR. The smartphone-based headset is based on a design from 2015 that originally intended to target consumers. Mira Reality Lab has since developed into an enterprise Assisted Reality device, providing work instructions, communications, and other interactions while enabling https://arinsider.co/2023/06/12/spatial-beats-apple-meta-nvidia/workers to keep their eyes on the work while viewing wiring diagrams. Mira was founded by Ben Taft, Matt Stern, and Montana Reed who met in the inaugural class of the University of Southern California’s Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology, and the Business of Innovation. The company’s influential investors include Sequoia Capital, Troy Capital Partners, S-Cubed Capital, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, and will.i.am. Terms were not disclosed, as usual with this kind of transaction. Frankly, I’m not sure what to make of this in light of the Vision Pro reveal Monday. Aquihire? Patent acquisition? Or maybe Apple sees an alternate path to a low-cost device that doesn’t have anything much to do with the Vision Pro?
Hexa Brings 3D Product Review and Virtual Try-On to Amazon. Say goodbye to the black and white thumbnail chicklets next to product shots. Brands can now use Hexa to create and import 3D assets into their Amazon storefront. As you can see in the video above, users can inspect objects from any angle with their mouse. In addition, Hexa can use 2D product shots to create 3D models. Hexa raised $20.5M in March.
All the Nvidia news announced by Jensen Huang at Computex. The CEO has not spoken publicly for four years, and he had a lot to say. Nvidia was in the right place at the right time to power crypto mining, and it’s in the same place with AI. This sent the company stock soaring, pushing Nvidia’s market cap past a trillion dollars.
NVIDIA Research has developed Neuralangelo. If you’ve seen the dancing marble statues meme, this is the source. If you haven’t, here it is. Neuralangelo is an AI model that leverages neural networks for 3D reconstruction from 2D video clips.
Paramount Pictures Using AR to Promote “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.” The studio teamed with Snapchat to create a Lens (or Filter) that uses computer vision and AI to turn any car into a Transformer.
New Short Film “Privacy Lost” Calls for Regulation Against AI-powered Human Manipulation. The film was funded by Minderoo Films, the Responsible Metaverse Alliance, and the XR Guild to raise awareness of new risks that might emerge from the combination of artificial intelligence and mixed reality technologies. It reminds me of Keiichi Matsuda’s 2016 masterpiece “Hyper-Reality,” which has 3M views on YouTube.
Why AI Will Save the World (Marc Andressen/a16z.com)
Where Memory Ends and Generative AI Begins (Lauren Goode/Wired)
Why Hollywood Really Fears Generative AI (Will Bedingfield/Wired)
Meta Employees Working on the Metaverse Reportedly Don’t Like Using VR Headsets (David Heaney/UploadVR)
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.