Welcome back to Spatial Beats. The 50th Anniversary of the Siggraph computer graphic convention wrapped late last week. In recognition of this milestone, there were a number of exhibits about the history of computer graphics. Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, which makes 80% of the chips that power AI GPUs, gave a dramatic keynote about the future of AI, computer graphics, and the transformational, democratizing moment tech seems to be in.
Neuralink Raises $280M Series D. The round was led by Founders Fund, a San Francisco-based VC firm established by Peter Thiel, one of Neuralink founder Elon Musk’s PayPal co-founders. The Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) company said several months ago that it is communicating with bluetooth-enabled chips implanted in monkeys’ brains.
3D display maker Leia Inc. announced it acquired 3D display maker Dimenco. The terms of the cash and equity transaction between the two private companies were not disclosed. CEO and founder David Faatal will continue to lead the company from Silicon Valley, and Dimenco CEO Maarten Tobias will join Leia as Chief Commercial Officer, and continue to work with his team in Dimenco’s European headquarters. They will shortly begin to sunset the Dimenco brand in favor of Leia.
ShapesXR Raises $8.6M. ShapesXR, a VR design and collaboration platform, has secured a $8.6 million seed round. Launched in November 2021, ShapesXR enables up to thirty participants, developers and, importantly, non-developers, to share a spatial VR environment where they can work together. Put simply, as in the picture below, users, as Meta avatars, collaborate on VR design inside VR. The round was led by Supernode Global with Triptyq VC, Boost VC, Hartmann Capital, Geek Ventures, the WXR Fund, Leta Capital, StratMinds VC, the Venture Reality Fund, Ludus Ventures, and HTC Vive, also investing.
Immersed’s new Visor XR headset Focused on Office Work. Due in 2024, the Visor XR will sport 4K Micro OLED display per eye, a 100-degree field of view, inside-out tracking, HD color passthrough, and compatibility with Apple, Windows, and Linux. The new headset is still tethered PC VR HMD but the goal is to make a headset so light (maybe less than half the weight of the Quest2) and so comfortable, you forget you’re wearing it. Later this year, Immersed is going public through a SPAC that would yield it $150M.
Windup Minds raises $1.6M in seed funding. Founded by game industry and VR veterans, the startup is working on a “virtual creature experience” so real you’ll miss the critters when you take off your headset. The focus will be on mixed reality devices like the Quest 3 and Apple Vision Pro.
Hamilton the Musical Now Rapping in Roblox. “Hamilton Simulator,” created by Super League in collaboration with Small World Games, is available to play now, exclusively on Roblox. transports users into different zones, each referencing signature locations from the musical. Visitors arrive via ship at the Old New York Docks and follow in the footsteps of Alexander Hamilton. Roblox users can unlock collectible versions of Hamilton characters that become companions on their journey, rapping, singing, and going head-to-head with adversaries as they go deeper into the narrative. Everyone loves Hamilton, which has become a cultural phenomenon, so this has hit written all over it. Since we’re talking about Broadway here, I have a question: why can’t Broadway use VR technology to give me what I really want: to be virtually present, in the best seat, for a live performance? For $20, not $200.
Virtual reality has negative side effects – new research shows that can be a problem in the workplace. There are a lot of factors that determine how prone to dizziness, headaches and nausea users are in VR. Aside from the obvious external factors, such as the genre, quality, and speed of the experience, physiological explanations like sex, age, and preexisting conditions like claustrophobia and acrophobia.
Skyscrapers to Data Centers: An AI Story (Rony Abovitz/Medium)
Gizmodo editor-in-chief sues Apple over Tetris movie. (Adi Robertson/The Verge)
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.