Welcome back to Spatial Beats. John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity, announced his retirement from the gaming software company after a nine year tenure, in which he oversaw remarkable growth and a successful IPO in September 2020. Riccitiello is a highly visible figure in the immersive, spatial computing industry, with close ties to all the major players in XR, including Meta and Apple. Indeed, he was the face of Unity. Since the IPO three years ago, things have not gone well. At the peak of the pandemic tech bubble, the stock was trading at $196, but it now languishes at $29. Unity recently laid off 600 employees, nearly 10% of its workforce. Riccitiello is also leaving the board, suggesting the exit was not his idea, despite everyone’s statements to the contrary. James Whitehurst, former CEO of Red Hat, will become Unity’s interim CEO.
Unreal Engine will no longer be free for all. Less than two weeks ago, Unity’s competitor, Unreal Engine, Epic Games’ popular game development platform, laid off over 800 employees. Like Meta and Unity before it, founder and CEO, Tim Sweeny, took the rap for over-hiring during the pandemic tech boom. This week, the company also announced it will begin charging for non-game uses of its platform such as media production, architecture, and location-based entertainment (e.g., the new Sphere in Las Vegas).
Waves of Raves for Meta’s Quest 3 VR Headset including CNet’s Scott Stein, CNN, Engadget, Techcrunch, Venture Beat, Upload VR, Gizmodo, and RoadtoVR. The new Quest 3 uses an upgraded Qualcomm Snapdragon XR-2 Gen 2 chipset, which is capable of creating much better graphics, as illustrated by the video from Golf+ below.
Despite the rave reviews, some observers, including myself, question how many people will upgrade to the $500 headset. The company supposedly predicted sales of seven million, now scaled back to two million, according to XR blogger Tony “Skarred Ghost” Vitillo. It may be that everyone who wants one, has one, and there is no “must-have” app exclusive to the new device. Not yet. I think everyone agrees at this point Meta, although acclaimed as the best of the rest, needs a Game of Thrones-scale mega hit to drive adoption of its VR devices.
Carrera Smart Glasses Featuring Amazon Alexa To Take on Meta Ray-Bans. The race to make wearable AI in on, and Alexa is definitely in the race, creating fashionable audio smartglasses with Carrera to compete with Meta’s Ray-Ban Stories. Since Open AI added voice recognition to its mobile app, anyone with earbuds now has mobile AI. Just saying. BUT. If the glasses use a camera that’s always on, and that computer vision AI is fed into the LLM AI (the app), now you’d really be talking. I think that’s where Meta is going with this, Alexa.
Fast Travel Games Raises $4 M for new VR titles. The Stockholm-based developer VR games Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife (2021), Apex Construct (2018), The Curious Tale of the Stolen Pets (2019), and Cities: VR (2022) announced $4M in new funding. The round was led by Handelsbanken Fonder. Existing owners Industrifonden, Brightly Ventures, Creades, and Inbox Capital also participated.
A series of comparison prompts from text-to-image GenAIs MidJourney, Dalle-3, and Adobe Firefly AI were posted on X.com. Thanks to Allie Jules, of Saana.ai, which offers AI Strategy, Consulting, and Training for this informative post!
Midjourney vs. Dalle-3 vs. Adobe Firefly
Same prompt for all.
10 spicy examples.
— Alie Jules (@saana_ai) October 11, 2023
Plus one more insanely great GenAI animation we saw on X.
— MohameD MehreZ (@JustMDMZ) October 8, 2023
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.