Welcome back to Spatial Beats. There was an insane amount of news over the past week, starting with Meta’s Connect Developer Conference at its Menlo Park, CA headquarters, where select media was invited to preview the new Quest 3, to be released October 10th. The new $500 device is slimmer thanks to pancake lenses and feels better on the face (unless you wear glasses). It features dual 2064 x 2208 pixel displays (Quest 2 is 1832 x 1920). The Quest 3 also boasts a second-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 chipset, which Meta says can achieve twice the graphics performance of its predecessor which powers the Quest 2. The new depth camera will allow users to place digital objects in their physical space.
Leading tech journalists had a generally positive view. Scott Stein of Cnet gives it a big thumbs up. But there are questions. Ben Lang of Road to VR likes the Quest 3, but says the software isn’t there yet. The NY Times Brian Chen described mixed reality on the Quest 3, and Apple, too, as aspirational, hoping to find an application beyond games. Adi Robertson of the Verge was impressed by the mixed reality capability but likewise wondered how it would be used.
Bottom line: The Quest 3 is a credible low-cost competitor to the Apple Vision Pro, and will be much more widely available. We suspect many mixed reality applications to be popular on both platforms.
Meta’s Ray Ban Stories Get AI upgrade and steaming to Insta. New models of the audio smartglasses designed by Ray-Ban (Luxottica) feature upgrades to sound and camera, new onboard conversational AI, and live streaming of Ray Ban Stories’ video to Meta platforms like Instagram. We are fans of the comfort and style of the first generation of Stories. This seems to address shortcomings while keeping the price of the frames under $300.
Zuck’s Keynote also went deeply into AI. The company is introducing personality-based chatbots based on celebrities playing fictional roles. Like Paris Hilton as a detective. Other celebs represented include Tom Brady and Snoop Dog. Each will address a specific vertical such as cooking, fashion, and more esoteric interests like role-playing games. As we said last week, chatbots are the battlefield for the next operating system.
Amazon announced it will invest up to $4 billion in AI startup Anthropic. This gives the tech titan a minority stake in the company and gives AWS cloud customers early access to Anthropic developments.
ChatGPT can now access up-to-date information on the web. The AI leader has finally integrated up-to-date internet into its functionality. Its image generator Dall-E is also being better integrated into ChapGPT, so you can ask for a children’s story and illustrations.
Layoffs at Epic Games. The Cary, NC-based maker of the hit game Fortnite and the Unreal Game Engine, cut 16% of its workforce yesterday, or approximately 830 jobs. Inside sources say the number is actually closer to 1200. Recent acquisitions of Bandcamp and Superawesome Services will be spun off. For more on layoffs in this “year of efficiency” check out the Forbes 2023 layoff tracker.
Onward announces the first-in-human implant of a stimulator with BCI. The BCI works in tandem with ARC-IM Stimulator to capture the intention of a paralyzed individual to move their upper extremities. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to decode those thoughts into precise stimulation of the spinal cord.
We Took a Look at Two New AR Headsets, Rokid Max and TCL Nxtwear S. There’s a lot to like in this emerging category, with more to come from Nreal and others. This is a very different approach from the approach taken by Meta with its Ray-Ban stories. Devices like the Max are for viewing media and playing games, Stories are for making media and listening to audio.
We love Cinematic AI. This is from Douggy Pledger, a creative at BBC studios in the UK. More of his work can be found here at Douggy.com.
Perform in Real Time, or Record An Animated Performance. RETìníZE has developed Animotive – an innovative, easy-to-use VR SaaS product that democratizes 3D animation production by allowing remote performers to work together in a virtual space as animated avatars where they can be filmed by a third-party director and/or cinematographer.
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.