Meta Platforms Inc., QUALCOMM Inc. and Lenovo Group Ltd. were just some of the big-name vendors posted up in the Santa Clara Convention Center from May 31 through June 2 to reflect on their accomplishments in spatial computing and lay out their plans for the year ahead. Playful peripherals and ponderous applications were still out in force at the show, but there was a growing emphasis on polished products targeting specific customer personas.
There was also an air of uncertainty as companies that have been hammering away on augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) tech for nearly a decade wondered what statement Apple Inc. would make on the other side of the weekend. Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the Vision Pro on June 5, a device that is an affirmation of the industry's aspirations as well as a challenge to reach a new high bar.
Some key trends spotted at the show were:
Meta on the show floor: Meta graced the show floor with a booth after having a relatively limited footprint at CES. The recently announced Quest 3 was not on public display, but the company was giving demos of the Quest Pro, which includes many of the same features working their way to the consumer-facing headset.
AI in the metaverse: Theai Inc.'s Inworld brought its metaverse-ready large language models to the show floor via interactive conversations with 3D avatars. Niantic Inc. used the Inworld tech to power a cartoon owl named Wol, which answered questions about the Redwood Forest with avuncular humor interspersed throughout the conversation.
Light field displays: CREAL3D SA was one of the companies demonstrating advanced light field display technology, but its focus was on AR headsets and smart glasses. Its lenses attempt to give users actual focal depth at any distance, generating a more convincing 3D image that can interact with the world around it. This alternative to "flat displays" is also designed to reduce eye strain and nausea.
The soft side of the metaverse: Hardware is the core of Augmented World Expo, but software and platform builders play a large role as well. Croquet demonstrated its multiuser synchronization platform, which gives even the smallest developers the ability to build complex multiplayer experiences. RP1 offers developers a foundational layer with a high degree of scalability, purporting to support 4,000 simultaneous players in one space.
Zoan's Cornerstone is an emerging metaverse hub with a high degree of fidelity that is seeking creators to come fill its platform with content.
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