This week we're all about Spatial Computing, Metaverse, Instructional Design, Eye Tracking, AI Watermarking, and 3D Gaussian Splatting!
Welcome to the Studio 54 of tech newsletters - Spatial News™! Enter after your own risk assessment! “The key of the success of the metaverse is that it’s a dictatorship at the door and a democracy on the dance floor.” (Andy Warhol, maybe)
And since our summer break lasted all the way into winter (yeah, it's already winter in Finland), let's cannonball onto that crystal clear but very frozen lake together. <Crack! That wasn't the sound of the ice...>
The Metaverse is Dead...
that is, "the over-hyped vision of everyone living in a vast fictional digital universe where most virtual goods only have value due to artificial scarcity..."
Long Live Spatial Computing!
where we "[bring] computer interaction out into the world in which we live vs. [being forced] to adapt to the computer's world".
So says XR vet Avi Bar-Zeev.
Put that way, I can dig it. (We aren't called Spatial8 for nothing.)
These terms aren't necessarily antagonistic, though. Tom Ffiske, on the other hand, sees spatial computing fitting within the metaverse bubble, I mean, circle.
Photo credit: Tom Ffiske
For Tom, being that Apple used the term 'spatial computing' when unveiling its Vision Pro, SC necessarily becomes related to hardware and not necessarily related to the infrastructure of the Internet or the future of the 3D Web in the way 'metaverse' is. The development of one, spatial computing, acts as foundational to the other.
I'm 'bout it, 'bout it. So, we aren't throwing the baby out with the bathwater then. (What a dumb saying, that's gotta be a ridiculously negligent parent and a super light infant, but I digress.)
Throwing the baby out with the bath water pixel art, generated by Dall-E
Hey, where does XR fit into all of this? Check out the definition of spatial computing we found back in Spatial News™ #042.
Basically, draw another smaller circle within the spatial computing circle in Tom's Venn and XR nestles within there, curled up in fetal position. Now, we have the Metaverse-Spatial Computing-XR Russian doll sitting on our technocrat babushka's pristine window sill next to the Artificial Intelligence-Machine Learning-Deep Learning doll.
So the Metaverse isn't Dead, after all
It just doesn't exist (in case you're still not sure), and it might never in the ways that it has been described since people were infected with Snow Crash. Still, despite the naysayers and the on-to-the-next-thing media outlets, the idea continues to be a point of dialogue and philosophical debate and inspiration (or horror).
And there continue to be companies and folks creating content, technologies, and platforms that are working on some semblance of (or alternative to) Neil Stephenson's vision whose work could one day coalesce to create the metaverse (or whatever future label we give an all encompassing 3D Web). Check out Santeri Saarinen 's "Metaverse Semantics" presentation that goes into these points.
In preparation for that glorious day, these metaverse platforms and the metaverse are going to need Instructional Design and Instructional Designers if they're going to be useful at all for education. Lucky for us, Heather Dodds, Ph.D. has a (by now) 6-part series called
Instructional Design in the Metaverse
Here's part 1 to start you off.
(I betcha eye tracking tech can help with instructional design...)
Eye-tracking is a Game Changer for XR
This goes beyond foveated rendering, which reduces the amount of computational juice needed for those sweet high res AR/VR scenes by focusing on the center of our field of view like our fovea does. Besides this, the article, which you can read here, lists 7 other use cases for the technology. One of these use case is 'intent and analytics', basically what people focus on.
Interestingly, as a Psych Today article puts it "our eyes are predictive indicators of our impending decisions" even beyond on conscious awareness. These visual cue help to explain how we make purchases.
"So, um, whatcha got in your soul there? Wanna fill it with a few new blouses...?"
I'm more interested in the uses for healthcare and wellness. Research is still in the early stages, at least, where eye tracking has been utilized as part of the study, but the health trajectory of the eyes (duh) and the brain can be unlocked by studying people's eyes and visual cues. Perhaps, I'll go more into that in a later edition, just take my word for it for now. (We also wrote about eye tracking back in Spatial News™ #041 if you're interested.)
A private dick missing an eye ball tracking a different eye ball, generated by Dall-E
Have you heard of Generative AI? It's the latest craze. It's also running roughshod over IP like text, code, images, music, and video. Not to worry, AI watermarks are here to help curb harms, except that
Researchers Tested AI Watermarks—and Broke All of Them
Not only are they easy to evade, one can even add fake watermarks to real images. (Read about it here.)
"What is truth?" retorted Pilate.
Oh well, back to the drawing board (just don't post that drawing online or it'll be used to train someone else's LLM).
Speaking about training AI, let me introduce you to
3D Gaussian Splatting
Sure, it might sound gross or obscene, but it's a potentially revolutionary technique for how we can create and consume 3D content that "allows real-time rendering of photorealistic scenes learned from small samples of images" (nerd out here or watch Gamefromscratch's video to see how it works and how to use it now).
It's faster, lighter (so that it can work on a browser or your phone), more flexible, and easier to use than NeRFs (nerf out here). Not only can it be used to whip up realistic objects or entire virtual worlds based on LiDAR scans, photographs or videos in realtime, these can be used to train AI on the cheap. Sa-weet!
<Your Spatial AD Here>
The 5th Annual Virtual Reality and Healthcare Europe Symposium
will be in Helsinki from October 19-20, 2023!
Learn more about the program and speakers 👉 here
Thanks for reading! And thanks to all the folks who created and shared great content that I could riff off of.
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