Welcome back to Spatial Beats. It looks like the Zuck-Musk cage fight is over. “I will be in Palo Alto on Monday,” Musk wrote Zuck in a text copied by his biographer, the esteemed Walter Isaacson (author of Steve Jobs). “Let’s fight in your Octagon.” Zuck posted his response on Threads: “I think we can all agree Elon isn’t serious and it’s time to move on. Elon won’t confirm a date, then says he needs surgery, and now asks to do a practice round in my backyard instead. If Elon ever gets serious about a real date and official event, he knows how to reach me. Otherwise, time to move on.” Tech columnist Casey Newton says we should be concerned that the world’s richest, most important, powerful, and innovative industrialist is acting like a high school bully. Musk and his acolytes would say Zuck and, by implication, all of us, can’t take a joke. Elon doesn’t seem the self-reflective type, but it would be worthwhile for him to consider that before X, he was regarded as a real-world Tony Stark. As recently as May 2021, he was praised for his genial guest host appearance on Saturday Night Live, but he seems to prefer trolling other billionaires to being liked and admired.
Time is running out to file claims for Facebook’s $725 million data privacy settlement – Last week to file. Anyone in the United States who had a Facebook account in the past 16 years has roughly one week left to file for payment in a data privacy settlement case. You must submit your claim using this form by 11:59 pm PT on Friday, August 25.
Akkio Raises $15M for No Code AI Platform for Enterprise. The round, which was led by Bain Capital Ventures and Pandome, Inc., takes the total capital raised by Akkio to $18 million. Their AI-in-the-box can supposedly be deployed instantly which might be a delight to companies wondering how to use AI.
ZTX open sandbox 3D virtual world raises $13M. The company that makes Zepeto, a free social media app that lets users create their avatars by taking a selfie, partnered with Jump Crypto to create ZTX, which has just raised $13M. ZTX introduced a private beta test of its upcoming 3D open-world platform called Playtest. They plan to launch a collection of 4,000 unique 3D District Homes. Holders of these homes will gain benefits such as membership in one of the four Districts (Arts, Financial, Fashion, Games), special access to future drops and events, and enhanced gameplay within ZTX.
Paris Hilton Has Not Left The Metaverse. With 70M followers on social media channels, Hilton’s 11:11 Media is hoping the scale and ubiquity of Roblox with attract a crowd for the self-proclaimed “Queen of the Metaverse.” She’s calling the new virtual world Slivingland, a portmanteau of “slaying” and “living your best life.” The site will feature entertainment content from Hilton and 11:11 Media, including new music, podcasts, TV shows, films, and brand activations.
Microsoft Picks Orbec’s 3D Depth Camera. Orbec’s Femto Bolt and Femto Mega combine Microsoft’s iToF technology with Orbbec’s high-precision depth camera design and in-house manufacturing capabilities. The company says this will broaden the application and accessibility of high-performance 3D vision in logistics, robotics, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, and fitness industries. Orbbec devices are built with Microsoft’s iToF technology and use the same depth camera module as Azure Kinect Developer Kit.
The selection of projects for Venice Immersive, the XR – Extended Reality section of the 80th Venice International Film Festival (30th August – 9th September 2023) has been finalized. Venice Immersive is entirely devoted to immersive media and includes all XR means of creative expression: 360° videos and XR works of any length, including installations and virtual worlds. HTC Vive and VR Chat are sponsors. Venice Immersive will present 44 projects from 25 countries and 24 works in the Worlds Gallery section. The Venice Immersive World on VRChat will present a virtual version of the Venice Immersive Island. Following the success of the previous edition, the Worlds Gallery section will feature a selection of 24 virtual worlds.
Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: The Seven Ravens. From Emmy Award-Winning Felix & Paul Studios. I got a preview of this amazing AR book project originally developed for Magic Leap and was stunned by what I saw.
Tulpamance. Tulpamancer explores how the intersection of generative AI and VR can provide new ways of encountering ourselves.
Wallace & Gromit In The Grand Getaway. This VR film is from AtlasV, which is among the most successful, trusted, VR producers. They push the tech, and they have great taste.
Body of Mine is in the worlds gallery. Those lucky enough to be there in person will see why it won a Jury Prize at SXSW Immersive in March. Created by Cameron Kostopoulos Body of Mine combines interviews with transgender individuals with body, face, and hand tracking, allowing you to interact with your own skin to discover different stories.
Kudos to Mermaid Toast, a female-driven agency based in LA, for this flashy GenAI faux trailer. This short faux trailer gives us a look at a sci-fi epic set in 2035. Not surprisingly, GenAI is particularly well-suited to the fantasy and science-fiction genres. Nice choice of music, too. With the tools currently available, it’s not easy to make montages of AI-Generated images look like they’re from the same movie. There are so many of these now, enough for a “Faux Trailer Festival.”
Congrats to Tony Vitillo on the 7th anniversary of his Skarred Ghost Blog. Tony is a Turin, Italy, based XR developer whose weekly deep dives are frequently cited, in this column. He is so thorough I wonder how he has time for his real job.
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.