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

“Siri Is Getting an A.I. Brain Transplant,” wrote the NY Times​’ Brian X. Chen. With the “Apple Intelligence” upgrade this fall, Siri will understand us better, and “learn” our preferences. It will also be able to “see” the smartphone screen for context. Apple added “Playground,” where users can generate images from text prompts, and create animated “Genmojis.” For more complex requests, Siri will call on ChatGPT. Other Gen-AI tools, like Google Gemini, may be similarly connected in the future. There were some nice upgrades to the Apple ecosystem. A new feature allows smartphone screens to be captured across other devices. The AI features will be available only on the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max and iPads or Macs with M1 or later chips, and only when their language is set to English. The features will start rolling out this fall in iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia.

The Vision Pro added some needed updates. It’s going to be available worldwide now. Among new features, users can now upgrade 2D photos to 3D photos. Guest mode got much-needed attention, too.

For Vision Pro to Live, Siri Must Die

Follow the Money

Paris-based AI startup Mistral Raises $600 Million. Founded last year by former Google Deepmind engineers, the company is working on foundational models with the aim to rival the best-performing models today, such as OpenAI’s GPT-4o, Anthropic’s Claude 3 and Meta’s Llama 3. Investors include Lightspeed Venture Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Nvidia, Samsung Venture Investment Corporation, and Salesforce Ventures. The investment values the new company at over six billion dollars.

‘The Sandbox’ Ethereum Game Valued at $1 Billion With New Funding. Driven by partnerships with over 400 celebrities and brands, including Snoop Dogg, Gucci, and Paris Hilton, The Sandbox is one of the most visible blockchain games​. However, the price of its NFT land plots has fallen from 3.9 ETH ($11,700) in 2022 to 0.08 ETH ($300) today.​ The money will fund improvements in creator tools, new social and gameplay features, and a mobile version, ​due next year.

Spiideo Raises $20 M to Automate Sport Broadcasting. The Swedish startup says it will revolutionize sports broadcasting with its AI-driven camera system with technology that mimics professional camera operators. It is trained to fully automate broadcasting for 15 different sports. Spiideo reports more than 6,000 venues and 4,000 teams (including major football clubs and NBA franchises) are already using its advanced video analytics and live game data products.

Feeling Spatial

Award-Winning ‘Body Of Mine’ VR Experience On Gender Identity Launches On Quest Store For Pride Month. The winner of the 2023 SXSW Special Jury Award is now available.

VR Chat Lays Off 30% of Its Staff. The Metaverse giveth, and the Metaverse taketh away. The popular social VR platform cited slow growth, over-hiring during the pandemic, and the slow adoption of a “more conventional corporate structure.” Founded in 2014, VR Chat secured $80 million in Series D funding in 2022, led by Anthos Capital, bringing its overall outside investment to $95.2 million, and valuing the company at over a billion dollars. Their plan to implement a Roblox-like virtual economy has not yet materialized.

The AI Desk

Luma Labs Launches Impressive Text-to-Video AI to Challenge Sora, and Everyone. And it’s open to the public now, with a generous free trial. “AI can be very time consuming, but by the time I grab a coffee and come back, Luma’s Dream Machine transforms hours of work into quick, game-changing brilliance,” said Ellenor Argyropoulos, AI Filmmaker and creator of the Mermaid Toast course in Cinematic AI. “The speed and realism of Dream Machine are game-changing for creating pitch materials quickly. Simply mind-blowing!”

Kling is China’s Answer to OpenAI’s Sora. In addition to Luma Labs, another Chinese Sora competitor, Kling, dropped samples of its text-to-video generative AI, and it is mind blowing. Signups are limited to Chinese email addresses. Earlier this year, Vidu AI made waves as the country’s inaugural rendition of Sora, capable of producing 16-second videos in pristine 1080p resolution.

Weekend Reading

Playing MR Chess (Upload)

Can Apple Rescue The Vision Pro (NY Times)

Listen In

For more spatial commentary & insights, check out This Week in XR, hosted by the author of this column, along with Ted Schilowitz, former studio executive and co-founder of Red Camera, and Rony Abovitz, founder of Magic Leap. This week our guest is Jeri Ellsworth, founder and CEO of Tilt5. 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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