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

CES has wrapped and we’re going to put out a lot of content around the show over the next few days. Three hot takes before we move on to the week’s XR/AI news:

  1. AI is not at peak hype, believe it or not.
  2. The K-Metaverse pavilion was the only mention of The Metaverse I could find at the entire show.
  3. The most remarkable thing about AR and VR at CES was how unremarkable it all is now.

There were only a couple of big XR stories: Sony’s introduction of its enterprise XR headset, which features 4K OLED displays, and Xreal’s new 6 DOF Ultra AR glasses. They were all eclipsed by the one who wasn’t there: the Apple Vision Pro, set to launch in limited quantities on February 2. The Verge takes a broader view of CES than we do through our immersive lens. See their Best of CES Awards.

Follow the Money

Rokid Raises Nearly $70 Million In New Financing. The maker of AR glasses for both enterprises and consumers has raised 500 million yuan (around 70M) from the Hefei Municipal Government with CEC Capital acting as its Exclusive Financial Advisor. This is part of Beijing’s effort to bolster domestic production of advanced technology.

Luma raises $43M to build AI that crafts 3D models. Luma successfully secured $43 million in its Series B funding, with contributions from investors that include Andreessen Horowitz. A source with knowledge of the deal reports this places Luma’s valuation in the range of $200 million to $300 million. Luma’s total funding has now surpassed $70 million.

Cuts & Corrections

Cuts at Google and Other Tech companies. More tech layoffs hit this week, with cuts at Google (1000), Amazon’s Audible and MGM (500), Twitch (500), Discord (170), and Instagram (60). Google’s cuts included much of its AR hardware team. Recent hype around its joint venture AR headset with Samsung and Qualcomm notwithstanding, this follows a Google trend of throwing anything spatial overboard.

Unity Technologies’ Cuts Deepen as it slashes 1800 jobs: 25% of its workforce. According to a statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Unity, known for its widely-used game engine, is undertaking these layoffs as part of a restructuring effort to concentrate on its core operations and to lay the groundwork for sustained, profitable growth. Over the past year, Unity has experienced multiple layoffs, including a notable reduction of 265 employees in November.

Good Fun

Rec Room Intros Full Body Avatars. In a blog post, the company announced it will introduce full-body avatars as a beta feature in its March 2024 update. Users can opt for these new avatars or continue using the classic floating bean-body style. The March beta will also feature an enhanced inverse kinematics system, which means walking will be less janky. Rumored future updates include full-body tracking and finger tracking.

Weekend Reading

Chrome Users Now Worth 30% Less Money Thanks to Google’s Cookie Killing (Thomas Germain/Gizmodo).

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.

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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