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…

Feeling Spatial

Niantic’s Mobile AR Experience Peridot is coming to Mixed Realty. A year after the AR pet game Peridot arrived on phones, Niantic is stepping into headsets with a little mixed reality experience on Quest. Niantic has been trying to duplicate the monster hit Pokemon Go since 2016. Peridot is a virtual pet game that came out last year to much fanfare before going nowhere.

CoStar Group (NASDQ: CSGP) announced its plans to acquire Matterport (NADQ: MTTR). California-based Matterport, which makes 3D scans of interior spaces, mostly for the real estate industry, has been purchased by the CoStar group for $1.6 billion. The deal will be split equally between cash and stock, with stockholders receiving $2.75 per share in cash and $2.75 in CoStar Group shares. Matterport went public via a SPAC in 2021.

Sandbox Announces Deal To Open 25 New Locations. The location-based VR attraction has forty-five locations offering its unique brand of free-roam VR, in which players move freely, unencumbered by wires. You experience the world, and others, as if you were all inside a video game. Sandbox features experiences tied to well-known franchises like Star Trek and The Squid Game. The agreement is with retailer Apparel Group which has 85 brands and more than 2,200 stores across 14 countries, including much of the Middle East, India, and Pakistan. This solidifies Sandbox’s dominant position in location-based VR, where many, including the Void, Dreamscape, and even Disney, have failed.

Mixed Reality Gargoyle Doyle Is On Its Way to Annecy. Animation director and producer Ethan Shaftel has been invited to present his XR film at Annecy, the world’s oldest and most prestigious animation festival. The Gargoyle Doyle MR experience takes place all around you, combining your physical environment with the animated comedy. Grown-up Haley Joel Osmet voices the Gargoyle who sardonically lives for centuries as a city is built around his cathedral. Annecy has been supporting immersive and virtual reality projects since 2016, and has premiered two of Shaftel’s previous projects, EXTRAVAGANZA (2017) and AJAX ALL POWERFUL (2020), which is available on the Quest (and recommended).


The AI Desk

OpenAI’s Sora Brings Director’s 10-Year Music Video Vision To Life. Director Paul Trillo’s new music video for the band Washed Out is the first commercial use of OpenAI’s new text-to-video generator, Sora. “The Hardest Part” tells the story of a couple’s life together as an infinite dolly shot, from meet cute in school through adulthood. “This was an idea I had almost 10 years ago and then abandoned,” says Trillo. “With Sora, I was finally able to bring it to life.”

Freepic Acquires Gen AI Upscaler Magnific. Design platform Freepik expands its reach with the acquisition of Magnific, an advanced AI-powered image upscaling and enhancement tool. Founded just five months ago, Magnific’s two-person team quickly gained popularity with over 725,000 users, with no investment. Completely bootstrapped. Magnific is based in Malaga, Spain, only a few hours from Magnific, which is just up the coast in Murcia. The founders are friends. Reportedly Freepic wanted to buy Magnific before it launched.

“Over the past year,” says filmmaker @AbleArt, “I have shifted my focus to artificial intelligence. In this video, I started by creating a very simple environment in a virtual green box. In it, I placed several cameras and MetaHuman characters. I then used a video2video process with Kaiber here, the voices were created with ElevenLabs, for the dialogues I wrote and which were translated into Korean by GPT-4. I then moved on to lip synchronization with Runway. The image2video sequences are made with MidJourney and Runway. The rest is done in editing with a bit of very basic compositing. Everything here was produced solo in 10 days.”

Follow the Money

Roblox Stock Slides On Conservative Forecast. Roblox shares slid more than 20% to their lowest level in two years, as the gaming giant dialed back its forecasts for growth. Roblox is a bellwether for the Metaverse, and its stress is indicative of continuing problems in the game industry post-pandemic, where they are back to competing with reality for consumer attention. Or at least the attention of pre-teens.

Lamini Raises $25M for Enterprise AI. The Palo Alto-based startup is building a platform to help enterprises deploy generative AI tech. The platform can operate locally in highly secure environments, including air-gapped ones. Lamini lets companies run, fine-tune, and train models on a range of configurations, from on-premises data centers to public and private clouds. It wasco-founded by Stanford Prof Sharon Zhou and Greg Diamos, who was previously with Nvidia. The co-founders’ pedigree has attracted AMD, and tech celebrities like Andrew Ng, Figma CEO Dylan Field, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, OpenAI co-founder Andrej Karpathy, all invested in this round.

Neurable Raises $13 Million to Make AI-powered Headphones. The company specializes in non-invasive brain-computer interfaces (BCI). This adds to the previous $30M the Cambridge, MA company has raised since its founding in 2015. Funding this round are Ultratech Capital Partners, TRAC, Pace Ventures, and Metaplanet.


Hardware is Hard

New Dnsys X1 Exoskeleton Changes Workouts And Walks. An exoskeleton can save a worker’s back, or can give them the strength to lift a 200-pound airplane tire. The Dnsys X1 is the first exoskeleton for consumers. This wearable workout assistant is affordably priced ($599) on Kickstarter, where over $975,000 has been pledged as of this writing.

Reality Bites

CNet Seriously Loves The XReal Air 2 Pro

Google brings a variation on ‘Circle to Search’ to iPhone users

Disney’s Making A Marvel Immersive Experience For Apple Vision Pro

Affordable 3D development: XR headset maker Zappar announces WebXR support

Cramer: Why Apple’s Vision Pro could contribute to earnings sooner than expected

Listen In

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 Marta Marciszewicz, head of machine learning at Anything World. 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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