Welcome back to Spatial Beats, where we round up all the top news and happenings from around the spatial computing spectrum, including its escalating infusions with AI and other letters. Let’s dive in…

The Lede

Varjo Launches New Ultra HD MR Headset. The Finnish start up, which has raised over $140M to date, debuted the XR-4 with twin 4K displays. Pass through is enabled by twin 20-megapixel outward facing cameras. The XR-4 is $3,900, less than Apple’s upcoming MR Vision Pro.

The AI Desk

Solos AirGo3, Wearable ChatGPT. The new Solos AirGo3 Smartglasses look like regular frames, but feature ChatGPT, making them more than another pair of audio smartglass, and they’re priced at an accessible $199.99. What they lack is a display, but what they provide is a superior wearable AI experience for an on-the-go user. Solos AirGo3 features a new noise suppressing voice recognition technology named “Whisper.” In our casual testing it understood commands with music playing in the car.

Filmmaker Daniel Moreno has taken director David Fincher’s description of movie theaters as “smelly and dirty” as inspiration for this fake trailer. It was generated with Midjourney and Runway. Done in 12 hours from the first idea to the final cut.

Ryan Phillips is a television director and short filmmaker turned AI video enthusiast. We asked him for a short statement and to share the tools he used to create this short. “I started out with a Mid-journey storyboard which I edited with Photoshop generative fill to keep the characters look consistent in each shot. I recorded the dialogue with my voice and then used an AI speech-to-speech changer (Voice AI) to give the characters individual voices. I then animated the Midjourney images with Runway and Pika,” Phillips said. “In five years you might be able to make photorealistic films from your bedroom, possibly even sooner for animation-style AI films. The speed of change is whiplash-inducing, it’s a job in itself to keep up with the weekly developments in the technology but, for me, AI video making is the most exciting creative space around.”

Hands On, Eyes In

Xreal Air 2 Smart Glasses Simulate 330-Inch Screen. The Xreal Air2 is one of the category leaders in screen-reflecting smart glasses which simulate for the user a huge high-definition screen seen from ten feet away. The AR glasses can be paired with mobile phones, PCs, handheld game consoles, and any display that would benefit from an impossibly large 330” big screen on the go. Using the Beam accessory, the massive virtual screen can be anchored anywhere in your environment.

Follow the Money

Pica Labs text-to-video Generative AI platform raises $55M. The round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners with participation from Homebrew, Conviction Capital, SV Angel, Ben’s Bites and notable angel investors including Quora founder Adam D’Angelo, ex-GitHub CEO Nat Friedman and Giphy co-founder Alex Chung. Pika was co-founded by Demi Guo and Chenlin Meng, both former PhD students in Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. Prior to studying at Stanford, Guo worked as an engineer at Meta’s AI research division, while Meng co-authored a number of AI research papers, including several pertaining to generative AI.

Hololight raises $12M for XR Streaming. The Innsbruck, Austria company is focused on delivering secure AR and VR enterprise solutions through its Hololight Hub. The round was led by European growth equity firm Flatz Hoffmann, along with support from existing investors EnBW New Ventures, Bayern Kapital, and Future Energy Ventures. The investment brings the total raised by the company to $27M.

Thirdverse VR Game Developer Raises $8M. Founded in 2020, the virtual reality game development, distribution and management company owns two studios in Japan and the United States. This latest investment round brings the company’s total funding to an impressive $38 million USD, including the initial capital raised prior to the corporate spin-off on May 1, 2021.Titles include the sword-fighting VR title “Altair Breaker,” a multiplayer VR shooter, “X8,” developed by its US Studio, and “Soul Covenant,” coming early next year.

VRgineers Raises $6M. The Series A round was led by Taiwania Capital, a Taipei-based VC. VRgineers launched their new XTAL 3 CAVU MR Headset with Advanced AMD and NVIDIA Chips at I/ITSEC, the annual Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) that showcases simulation, education, modeling and training technology for the exchange of information among industry, the military, and the educational communities. The company has moved beyond the headset and now offers a fully integrated simulation system to go with its ultra hi-def headsets.

Weekend Reads

The 5 next big things in metaverse, AR, and VR for 2023 (Fast Company)

Listen & Learn

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. See 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.

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