Meta Calls New Llama the First Open-Source Frontier Model

In April, Meta Platforms revealed that it was working on an open-source AI model that performed as well as proprietary models from top AI companies such as OpenAI and Anthropic. Now, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that model has arrived in the form of Llama 3.1 405B, “the first frontier-level open-source AI model.” The company is also releasing “new and improved” Llama 3.1 70B and 8B models. In addition to general cost and performance benefits, the fact that the Llama 3.1 405B model is open source “will make it the best choice for fine-tuning and distilling smaller models,” according to Meta. Continue reading Meta Calls New Llama the First Open-Source Frontier Model

Google Teams with Magic Leap in Another Run at AR Glasses

Magic Leap and Google have entered into a strategic partnership to develop augmented reality solutions, combining Magic Leap’s optics expertise with Google’s technology platforms. “By combining efforts, we can foster the future of the XR ecosystem with unique and innovative product offerings.” Google VP and General Manager of AR/XR Shahram Izadi said of the union, seen by some as effort by Google to jumpstart an XR business that could someday be competitive with offerings from Meta, Microsoft and now Apple. The company was an early mover in the space, with Google Cardboard and Google Glass, but dropped out. Continue reading Google Teams with Magic Leap in Another Run at AR Glasses

Meta Opens Mixed Reality OS to Third-Party Hardware Makers

Meta Platforms has rebranded its Quest VR operating system Horizon OS and is opening the platform to third parties. While licensing terms have not been publicly disclosed, Asus and Lenovo have said they’re going to be designing hardware using the system. Microsoft and Qualcomm are also in round one of the companies on the inside track as Meta positions Horizon OS along the lines of a universal VR standard, not unlike Microsoft’s Windows OS for computers. All four companies have already been working with Meta on VR for Quest or its predecessor, Oculus. Continue reading Meta Opens Mixed Reality OS to Third-Party Hardware Makers

Meta Education Initiative Aims to Put Quest VR in Classrooms

Meta will release a new Quest educational product later this year. As with 2023’s workplace-specific Meta Quest for Business, the as yet unnamed learning tool will allow teachers, trainers and administrators to access education-specific apps and features, and make it possible for them to manage multiple Quest devices at once. The classroom convenience of not having to individually update and prepare each headset for the same lesson was one of Meta’s key findings in researching what teachers wanted from virtual reality, Meta says, positioning education and training as a growing tech product sector, with lots of app activity. Continue reading Meta Education Initiative Aims to Put Quest VR in Classrooms

Microsoft Adds Mesh to Enable 3D and VR Meetings in Teams

Microsoft has added the Mesh mixed reality platform to its Teams remote collaboration app, making 3D and VR meetings now generally available to desktop Windows users and those with Meta Quest headsets. The immersive 3D meeting environments feature spatial audio as well as “live reactions” and the other standard Mesh features will be available to those with Microsoft Teams business accounts. Custom immersive spaces are also available to those with Teams Premium licenses. Microsoft says “hundreds of millions” of people worldwide are currently using Teams, although Mesh for Teams has only been in public preview since late 2022. Continue reading Microsoft Adds Mesh to Enable 3D and VR Meetings in Teams

Apple Pushes Immersive Entertainment for Vision Pro Headset

Apple’s Vision Pro launches February 2 with pre-orders starting today. The mixed reality headset will have more than 150 3D movies available at launch, including content from Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video, as well as “immersive originals,” Apple says. While the company is positioning the $3,500 headset as “the ultimate entertainment device,” touting mind-blowing specs and a transformative experience, gaming currently drives an estimated 30 percent of immersive hardware revenue and non-gaming entertainment accounts for only 8 to 13 percent. Apple’s announcement focuses more on TV, movies, and sports than the Apple Arcade game hub. Continue reading Apple Pushes Immersive Entertainment for Vision Pro Headset

CES: Sony’s Mixed-Reality Headset Built for Content Creation

Sony Corporation debuted a mixed reality headset “aimed at supporting creators in sophisticated 3D content creation.” The Sony XR HMD includes “an XR head-mounted display with 4K OLED Microdisplays and Sony’s proprietary rendering technology” to enable real-time, high-definition “rendering of textures of 3D objects and facial expressions of human characters,” Sony announced at CES. The electronics giant disclosed plans to “collaborate with developers” of 3D production software, “including in the entertainment and industrial design fields.” At launch, Sony is exclusively partnered with Siemens to develop a collaborative product design solution. Continue reading CES: Sony’s Mixed-Reality Headset Built for Content Creation

Apple Vision Pro Headset Available to U.S. Market February 2

Apple has set a February 2 release date for the much-anticipated Vision Pro mixed reality headset, with preorders to begin January 19. The $3,500 device (plus $149 for prescription lenses) will be available to U.S. buyers at all Apple Store locations and through the Apple Store online. News of the company’s first new product since the Apple Watch in 2015 sent Apple shares up 7.74 percent by market close, even though the device is at this point (and price) aimed at enterprise customers. The headset has 256 GB of storage and runs on Apple’s new visionOS, the company’s first spatial operating system. Continue reading Apple Vision Pro Headset Available to U.S. Market February 2

Apple’s Vision Pro May Compete in the AR Enterprise Space

Apple Vision Pro, the $3,499 mixed reality headset announced for release in early 2024, could be getting a B2B marketing push, as evidenced by a recently published Apple post on development apps. That would make competing products in the $3,300 to $5,000 range — including the Microsoft HoloLens and headsets from Magic Leap — Apple’s competition for the Vision Pro. That would also leave Meta Platforms and its Quest line, including the $500 mixed reality Quest 3 that began shipping last month, unchallenged in the consumer space, where it currently enjoys an estimated 80 percent market share. Continue reading Apple’s Vision Pro May Compete in the AR Enterprise Space

Meta’s ‘Horizon Worlds’ Offers Metaverse on Mobile, the Web

Meta Platforms will offer its “Horizon Worlds” virtual reality experience to the world at large, making it available in 2D via mobile and browsers on the Web, starting with early access. Initially, a “small number of people” will be able to  tap into the FPS game “Super Rumble” via the Meta Quest app on Android, with iOS availability over the next few weeks and “more experiences to come.” Early access can also be requested by those who prefer to use computer browsers at horizon.meta.com. “The metaverse should be available to everyone — no matter what device they’re on,” Meta suggests. Continue reading Meta’s ‘Horizon Worlds’ Offers Metaverse on Mobile, the Web

Epic Offers Crossplay Support for Xbox, PlayStation, Switch

Epic Online Services, the development hub for Epic Games, has expanded its crossplay overlay initiative to include initial support for games on Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo Switch and Sony PlayStation, optimizing its free SDKs for multiplayer crossplay and making it easier for developers to link their games and communities for those platforms across multiple stores. Last summer, EOS launched a PC crossplay overlay. The current upgrade enhances “capabilities across all supported platforms,” the company says, noting “crossplay enables bigger games, bigger audiences” and global games industry growth by connecting more players with a single overlay. Continue reading Epic Offers Crossplay Support for Xbox, PlayStation, Switch

Meta Has a Four-Year Plan Including Full-Fledged AR Glasses

Despite cost-cutting, Meta Platforms is continuing to spend on R&D. Coming in 2025: smart glasses paired with a neural interface watch to control them, according to The Verge, which got to view a presentation the company delivered to thousands of its Reality Labs staffers this week. Among the disclosures: for 2027, full-fledged AR glasses, a format Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg says will eventually be as ubiquitous as mobile phones. Coming later this year is a thinner, more powerful Quest 3 VR headset priced only slightly higher than the $400 Quest 2. Continue reading Meta Has a Four-Year Plan Including Full-Fledged AR Glasses

Bigscreen’s First VR Headset Is Now Available for Pre-Order

Social VR firm Bigscreen has opened pre-orders for Beyond, its first virtual reality headset. The $999 model, which the company says is the “world’s smallest,” offers a custom-fit from a 3D scan of each purchaser’s face. The PC-only wearable is also lightweight, at just under 6 ounces, including the strap. Delivery int eh U.S. is slated for Q3. The slight packaging doesn’t come at the expense of resolution, with dual 5K (5,120 x 2,560) micro OLED displays. However, some say the 93- degree horizontal field of view (90 degrees vertical) is a drawback. Continue reading Bigscreen’s First VR Headset Is Now Available for Pre-Order

Apple Developing User-Friendly AR Creation App for Headset

Apple is preparing for the release of its upcoming mixed reality headset by engineering software that, while aimed largely at developers, would also allow users to create their own augmented reality apps in the same way as Final Cut Pro, which is used to edit video by both professionals and laymen. Apple’s highly anticipated headgear is expected to come to market this year, and a general use AR development tool would be a major coup for the company, given that AR apps are complicated to create and new technologies typically rely on fresh content to drive sales. Continue reading Apple Developing User-Friendly AR Creation App for Headset

NBA Collaboration with Niantic Could Be AR Game Changer

Niantic, the mobile games company famous for the “Pokémon GO” augmented reality venture has yet to duplicate the success of that 2016 mega-hit. “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” and “Pikmin Bloom” fell short, and last June Niantic laid off nearly 90 people, about 8 percent of its staff. The company, which was incubated by Google, has a lot riding on “NBA All-World,” its latest bid for AR virality on Android and iOS. The game releases globally this week. The concept is brand-to-boots: hoop enthusiasts are invited to play one-on-one or enjoy team time with their NBA favorites. Continue reading NBA Collaboration with Niantic Could Be AR Game Changer