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

Meta just released its free AI Chatbot, Meta AI with Llama 3, to 3.98 Billion people. That’s half the people in the world. Having played with Meta AI for just an hour this afternoon it immediately occurs to me that Google, OpenAI, and X may have to rethink their twenty-dollar-a-month pricing strategy for their corresponding services.

Meta AI with Llama 3 is integrated with Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and the Facebook Newsfeed. It can also be found at Meta.ai. The AI assistant is based on their open-source Llama 3 Large Language Model. It’s multimodal (generates images), and its answers, in light testing, are quite good, with summaries and annotations from Bing and Google. If asked, Meta AI will even turn images into .gifs. And it’s free, if you can Grok that. An enterprise version has also been released for cloud platforms.

Hits & Misses

Gabe Newell’s Brain-Computer Interface Company, Starfish Neuroscience is Out of Stealth. The Valve co-founder has been quietly working on the minimally invasive brain-computer interface (BCI) for years.

Glue VR Collaboration Platform Shutters. Launched at the height of the pandemic in 2020, Helsinki-based Glue raised $3.4 M for a highly graphic enterprise VR collaboration platform that enabled its users to make presentations, share 3D assets, and watch videos. Glue got some early traction with enterprise customers like KLM Dutch Royal Airlines, which ironically used Glue to reduce corporate travel. Collaborative Enterprise VR is a crowded niche with both free and paid options, including Engage, Spatial.io, Meta’s Horizon Workrooms, and Arthur. Mozilla’s Hubs was just shut down. The year before Microsoft took down AltSpace.

Sony recently turned off production of its Playstation 2 VR, indicative of a more widespread industry downturn. Bad news for Apple and Meta: Kids are bored with VR goggles, writes Business Insider. Developer and blogger Tony (Skarred Ghost) Vitillo has advice for colleagues afflicted by the blight, What To Do When You’re Bounced from VR.

The AI Desk

Adobe Adds Sora, Firefly AI, to Premiere. The popular editing software is getting an AI boost with powerful new features like in-painting (object removal or addition), and generative extend, which adds more video to the beginning or end of clips. Generative B-Roll from Sora is also coming. Upgrades will gradually begin to roll out next month.

Screenwriter and AI Filmmaker Gregory Mandarano used the new AI music generator Udio to compose this ode to Owen Lars, Tatoonie moisture farmer and Luke Skywalker’s taciturn step-father, who was killed at the beginning of the first Star Wars movie. “I have always aspired to have a place in traditional Hollywood and a career as a screenwriter. Orson Welles once said, ‘A writer needs a pen, an artist needs a brush, but a filmmaker needs an army.’ This statement has held true for nearly 80 years, but it’s now possible for one person to be an army,” wrote Mandarano in an email. Other tools used Midjourney, RunwayML, Davinci Resolve, and Topaz AI.

Prolific producer of short AI films, Abandoned Films, have come out with a series of video memes based on the idea of “1950s Super Panavision 70.” Others include Super Panavision versions of The Hobbit, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Matrix. Tools used were Midjourney, Eleven Labs, Runway, Stable Audio. Script ChatGPT. Edited in Adobe Premiere.

Follow the Money

Animoca Brands, the fund behind The Sandbox, Kraken, MetaMask and Ledger, shared a report that says the company has $558 million in digital assets, and $291 million in cash and stablecoins. In unaudited financials released on Wednesday, Animoca noted this “excludes the value of the Company’s approximately 400 minority investments in Web3 companies, for which valuation work is ongoing.”

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 guest is Akash Nigam, CEO of Genies. 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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