With the holiday period fast approaching, if XR audiences expected a lull in updates and announcements from significant technology leaders, they would be wrong.
This week proved to be a dark horse regarding announcements; with CES just around the corner, major XR firms are readying up for 2024. It appears that 2024 will be a landmark year for XR. With the impending rise of the rebranded industrial Metaverse and the potential mainstream adoption of MR headsets, XR may finally reach its breakthrough moment outside the gaming market.
On the other hand, as market competition rises, pressure also increases. Major firms like Apple are sending staff to stores across the USA to train staff using its new MR headset. Meanwhile, a major XR firm plans to drop a leading headset brand following poor sales.
Will the XR market become a shark tank in the new year? With a rise in competition, the answer may be yes. When December 2024 rolls along, the XR market and its leaders could look very different.
Pico 5 Scrapped
ByteDance has announced that it will not release the Pico 5, as the Pico 4’s revenue fell short of expectations.
However, ByteDance plans to launch an updated version of the Pico 4, although it has not provided further details.
The company is also working on a VR headset project called Swan, which is still in its experimental and conceptual stages and, therefore, has no indication of a release date yet.
In addition, Pico has halted the development of its Beat Saber rival and Ubisoft-hosted Just Dance VR game.
Earlier reports suggested that ByteDance planned to lay off 20 to 30 per cent of its workforce by 2023, but according to a recent report by The Information, the numbers are expected to be much higher.
Apple Preps Retail Stores for Vision Pro Debut
Apple is preparing for the release of its Vision Pro device, which was announced earlier this year. Although the company has not confirmed a specific release date, it aims to launch the product in March 2024. Despite some production setbacks, recent developments indicate Apple is ready for its proposed release window. The company showed this by introducing Vision Pro training sessions to its retail store workers in the new year to familiarize them with the new product.
Apple is well-known for its in-store retailer workers’ expertise in itsy’s product portfolio, such as iPhones and Macs. However, Vision Pro’s new spatial computing framework requires specific training, which Apple provides to its retail workers before the product’s release. Apple is setting up two-day-long training sessions for its US store workers, where it will fly out headsets and experts from its headquarters to train workers.
Reports suggest that training will take place in mid-January to show retail employees how to set up the headset for individual prospective buyers. This training will ensure an excellent introduction to the device and help customers overcome the common hurdle of motion sickness and other difficulties during the headset’s set-up and onboarding process.
Apple employees will help set up devices in-store, allowing prospective buyers to experience the company’s unique spatial computing outlook. This approach could promote XR education, allow potential buyers to adopt the hardware, and assist customers in showing the productivity benefits of MR headsets.
First at Meta’s Next Headset
During a speaker session at the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences, Douglas Lanman, Meta Representative and Director of Display System Research at Reality Labs, announced that the company has developed a prototype device called Mirror Lake that offers an improved level of immersion compared to previous devices.
According to Lanman, the proposed innovative MR headset can be built using today’s resources. Lanman presented a 3D render of the Mirror Lake device in action during a session that discussed the “visual Turing test”, which aims to create an indistinguishable XR visual display from real life.
Douglas Lanman added:
We are doing well. We’ve stayed focused on all these problems. How close are we to passing the [visual] Turning test? Probably not that close; this is a grandiose dream. Through dozens of prototypes, we will eventually get there. But we are getting closer. Here is a rendering [of the Mirror Lake prototype] of a device that we felt, a few years ago, is practical to build now. Using holocake [lens], using multi-view eye tracking, using reverse passthrough, with hardware components that exsist. – I think the industry is ready to move to another plateau.
Mirror Lake could potentially solve one of the most significant issues with XR headsets regarding business use: their size, weight, and invasive design. Although smart glasses are also attempting to address this problem, headset manufacturers need to improve the wearability and usability of VR/MR headsets to ensure practical usage in settings such as factory floors.
Orlando’s Breakthrough Digital Twin Project Named 2024 Top Tech
The Orlando Economic Partnership (OEP) is an organization that focuses on economic and community development, and the firm uses digital twins and XR technology to promote regional growth by enhancing the local economy, attracting companies, creating job opportunities, driving investment, and fueling competitiveness.
Fast Company recently recognized OEP’s digital twin as one of the following “big things” in XR technology for 2023. This year has been busy for the XR industry, with groups like OEP, Microsoft, and Meta working tirelessly to revive the sector via significant workplace XR solutions.
The President and CEO of the OEP, Tim Giuliani, said that Fast Company naming the OEP’s digital twin as a “Next Big Things in Tech” – which “includes among many of the world’s most innovative companies showcases the strength of Orlando’s technology and innovation ecosystem” – is “recognition that our region is on the cutting edge of emerging technology, shaping the future by pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in experiential entertainment and immersive, data-driven economic and community development.”
“Moreso, this win further solidifies Orlando’s reputation as the MetaCenter of the digital revolution and highlights how innovation makes Orlando Unbelievably Real,” Giuliani remarked.
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