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 emerging tech. Let’s dive in…

The Lede

South by Southwest’s XR Competition and Exhibition, one of the largest in the world, wrapped Wednesday. The Jury Award went to The Golden Key, a room-scale three-screen experience that was running a local version of Stable Diffusion. It was automatically prompted to create themed images based on a series of unrelated short fairy tales. Guests could add their own prompts to see how they manifested in the stories being generated and projected in real time. It felt like a new medium was unfolding before our eyes. Marc Da Costa, and Matthew Niederhauser directed the piece. A Special Jury Award went to Soul Paint, written by Sarah Ticho, directed by Sarah Ticho and Niki Smit, and produced by Anna Firbank.

Reality Bites

Open is a metaverse experience coming from Ready Player One creator’s Readyverse. Ernest Cline, the author behind Ready Player One, is working on a new project called Open, an ambitious “triple-A quality metaverse experience” that aims to offer a multi-genre, multi-IP, and multi-mode battle royale experience for PC and current-generation platforms. It derives its name from the principles of content interoperability and digital content ownership, and is inspired by the character Parzival from Cline’s books.


Virtuix, creator of Omni One VR treadmill, has 35 games in its lineup for a broader launch later this year. Omni One, originally pitched in a crowd-based investment campaign in 2020, is set to arrive in Q2 2024. At $2,595, this at-home version includes a Pico 4 Enterprise headset and a dedicated game store. Notable games that support Omni One are AFFECTED: The Manor, Breachers, Compound, Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord, In Death: Unchained, RUINSMAGUS, and Wanderer: The Fragments of Fate, allowing players to run, shoot, and crouch in VR.

The AI Desk

OpenAI CTO Mira Murati explains how Sora works.

OpenAI continues to cut deals with media companies rather than fight with them. This week they inked deals with French paper Le Monde and Spanish media conglomerate Promotora de Informaciones SA, or Prisa. The agreements bring French and Spanish language news content train ChatGPT models.

Dave Clark wrote and directed this horror short. “This is the first film to fuse Live-Action VFX and generative AI. It’s like a third AI. And even the sfx are essentially AI with light touches of traditional VFX,” said Clark in an email. “AI was essentially our entire VFX pipeline. Saving tons of time and money.”

Linwei Ding, a former Google software engineer, was charged with stealing AI trade secrets from the company. He was allegedly secretly working with two China-based AI startups. Ding is now facing up to 10 years in prison. He had been uploading confidential files to his personal Google Cloud for over two years. The FBI seized Ding’s electronic devices and uncovered over 500 unique files of confidential information stolen from Google.

Storybook Studios created the world of THE SEERESS in Cinematic AI by developing a bespoke workflow without using Runway or Pika animation. The series is currently in development with PANTALEON Films GmbH based on an original story by Tobias M. Huber and Dr. Dominikus Huber.


Follow the Money

Together AI Raises $106M in Salesforce-led round. Nvidia-backed Together AI said on Wednesday it has raised $106 million in a new funding round, doubling its valuation since last fall. The company offers a platform to easily develop with and deploy open-source models and productionize them in enterprise-grade applications. Other investors include Coatue Management and existing investors such as Lux Capital and Emergence Capital.

Adaptive AI emerges from stealth with $20M. The startup was founded by a team that worked together at open-source AI company Hugging Face. Adaptive wants to enable LLMs to learn on a regular and ongoing basis from how a company’s own employees or customers actually interact. This is called reinforcement learning from human feedback, or RLHF. The seed investment is being led by Index Ventures with participation from ICONIQ Capital, Motier Ventures, Databricks Ventures, HuggingFund by Factorial, and some individual angel investors. Founders

Tavus Developer Platform Raises $18M for GenAI Replica API. They also announced the launch of its new developer platform, Replica API, powered by its new Phoenix model. Phoenix allows for the creation of lifelike videos from text for industries like sales and education. The Series A funding was led by Scale Ventures, with participation by Sequoia Capital, Y Combinator, HubSpot, and others.

Weekend Reading

The Top 100 AI Apps for Consumers (a16z blog)

GenAI Is A Skills Amplifier, Not a Skills Democratizer (Shelly Palmer)

Listen & Learn

For more spatial commentary & insights, check out This Week in XR, hosted by the author of this column, along with Paramount’s Futurist Ted Schilowitz, and Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz. This week our guests are Laura Mingail, who’s going to help with our coverage of SXSW, and directors of The Gold Key, Matthew Neiderhauser and Marc DeCosta, who won the XR Award at SXSW 2024.You can find it on podcasting platforms SpotifyiTunes, 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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