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The VR headset: still not stylish just like Back to the Future II predicted

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Ever since Back to the Future II’s uber futuristic glimpse of what life could be like in 2015, the technology comparisons have been running rampant. While the movie’s predictions have some obvious hits and misses, thanks to Sony’s SmartEyeglass, I realized that the 1989 film was right about one more thing. There are no stylish VR headsets available today. This epiphany came on the heels of the announcement that Sony’s answer to Google Glass was now for sale. After checking out Sony’s SmartEyeglass, my first thought was that not a single person would ever take me seriously while wearing them.

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Sony SmartEyeglass or SmartEyesore?

I mean, could you blame them? I’m certainly not the most fashionable person around, but I can’t possibly be alone in thinking that not a single person would look normal while using Sony’s SmartEyeglass. Besides the overlarge square design that wouldn’t flatter even the most genetically blessed among us, I think the thing that gets me most is that its bulky retro-ish styling detracts from its usability. Despite the dizzying number of potential uses, I just know it would bring a lot of (unwanted) attention that would keep me from wearing them. And that’s a huge bummer. Especially since you know that Sony tried their best to make them as stylish as possible. Perhaps they’re going for the nostalgia market since the vintage black frame look of the $840 SmartEyeglass will only offer the classic green display of those old monochrome monitors.

Sony is bringing back Monochrome in 2015

Sony is bringing back Monochrome in 2015

The future’s not that bright, either. I find myself liking the ultra futuristic look of the now defunct Google Glass about as much as I like the thick black styling of SmartEyeglass. While I can appreciate the minimalist approach that Google’s designers took, I can’t help but think that it looks like something a pretentious architect would wear.

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Was this the Google Glass target demographic?

I mean, granted, Google Glass offers a full color display unlike Sony’s SmartEyeglass but even with the barely there frames, I know that I would still feel a bit weird rocking a pair. I guess, to me, it almost looks like a bluetooth earpiece for your face. And as amazing and revolutionary as the Microsoft HoloLens promises to be, you have to admit that there is still much to be desired when it comes to the looks department.

Microsoft HoloLens

Microsoft HoloLens augments reality but not your looks

I’m not saying that the VR headset from Back to the Future II is the best thing around; far from it, in fact. What I am saying is that, if given the choice, I would pick the silly Back to the Future glasses instead of the HoloLens or Google Glass. Why? Well, I think Back to the Future II totally got it right: they embraced the inherent awkwardness of VR glasses instead of trying to fight it. I know it’s not an easy task to design good looking virtual reality and augmented reality headsets, but we must be able to do better, right? And yes, you can argue that Michael J. Fox doesn’t exactly look cool while yelling at the fruit dispensing robot in his VR glasses, but they are certainly a lot less obtrusive than some options that are currently on the market.

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Ahem, Oculus Rift

I guess what I’m saying is that maybe we should take a page from the Back to the Future II design playbook. Let’s embrace the fact that VR headsets will never look like regular glasses and goggles and run with it so that we can move past the era of weird looking VR headsets and instead focus our efforts on making flying cars happen.

Hey, I'm Sara! I'm a fan of all things geek so you'll usually find me immersed in everything from comic books to auto sports. I often wish that I was born in the future so that I could have experienced adventures worthy of Star Wars or Star Trek. To cope with the fact that we don't even have flying cars yet, I generally infuse everything I do with a healthy dose of humor. I mean, we may as well laugh while we're waiting, right? (Also, it's a great excuse to include as many Simpsons references as possible)

Artificial Intelligence

Gaming models are created by Auctoria using generative AI

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Aleksander Caban, co-founder of Polish VR game developer Carbon Studio, noticed a major problem in modern game design several years ago. He manually created rocks, hills, paths, and other video game environment elements, which was time-consuming and laborious.

Caban created tech to automate the process.

In collaboration with Michal Bugała, Joanna Zając, Karolina Koszuta, and Błażej Szaflik, he founded Auctoria, an AI-powered platform for creating 3D game assets. Auctoria, from Gliwice, Poland, is in Startup Battlefield 200 at Disrupt 2023.

Auctoria was founded on a passion for limitless creativity, according to Zając in an email interview. It was designed to help game developers, but anyone can use it. Few advanced tools exist for professionals; most are for hobbyists and amateurs. We want to change that.”

Using generative AI, Auctoria creates various video game models. One feature generates basic 3D game levels with pathways, while another converts uploaded images and textures of walls, floors, and columns into 3D versions.

Like DALL-E 2 and Midjourney, Auctoria can generate assets from text prompts. Or they can submit a sketch, which the platform will try to turn into a digital model.

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All AI algorithms and training data for Auctoria were developed in-house, according to Zając.

She said “Auctoria is based 100% on our content, so we’re not dependent on any other provider.” It’s independent—Auctoria doesn’t use open source or external engines.

In the emerging market for AI game asset generation tools, Auctoria isn’t alone. The 3DFY, Scenario, Kaedim, Mirage, and Hypothetic startups create 3D models. Even Nvidia and Autodesk are entering the space with apps like Get3D, which converts images to 3D models, and ClipForge, which generates models from text descriptions.

Meta also tried tech to create 3D assets from prompts. In December, OpenAI released Point-E, an AI that synthesizes 3D models for 3D printing, game design, and animation.

Given the size of the opportunity, the race to market new solutions isn’t surprising. According to Proficient Market Insights, 3D models could be worth $3.57 billion by 2028.

According to Zając, Auctoria’s two-year R&D cycle has led to a more robust and comprehensive toolset than rivals.

“Currently, AI-based software is lacking for creating complete 3D world models,” Zając stated. “3D editors and plugins offer only a fraction of Auctoria’s capabilities. Our team started developing the tool two years ago, giving us a ready-to-use product.”

Auctoria, like all generative AI startups, must deal with AI-generated media legal issues. Not yet clear how AI-generated works can be copyrighted in the U.S.

However, the Auctoria team of seven employees and five co-founders is delaying answering those questions. Instead, they’re piloting the tooling with game development studios like Caban’s Carbon Studio.

Before releasing Auctoria in the coming months, the company hopes to raise $5 million to “speed up the process” of creating back-end cloud services to scale the platform.

Zając stated that the funding would reduce the computing time required for creating worlds or 3D models with Auctoria. Achieving a software-as-a-service model requires both infrastructure and user experience enhancements, such as a simple UI, excellent customer service, and effective marketing. We’ll keep our core team small, but we’ll hire more by year’s end.”

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Artificial Intelligence

DALL-E 3, from OpenAI, lets artists skip training

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Today, OpenAI released an updated version of DALL-E, its text-to-image tool that uses ChatGPT, its viral AI chatbot, to make prompting easier.

Most modern, AI-powered image generation tools turn prompts—image descriptions—into photorealistic or fantastical artwork. However, writing the right prompt is so difficult that “prompt engineering” is becoming a profession.

New OpenAI tool DALL-E 3 uses ChatGPT to fill prompts. OpenAI’s premium ChatGPT plans, ChatGPT Plus and ChatGPT Enterprise, allow users to type in an image request and refine it with the chatbot, receiving the results in the chat app.

ChatGPT can make a few-word prompt more descriptive, guiding the DALL-E 3 model.

DALL-E 3 adds more than ChatGPT integration. OpenAI claims that DALL-E 3 produces better images that better reflect prompts, especially for longer prompts. It handles text and human hands better, which have previously hampered image-generating models.

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OpenAI claims DALL-E 3 has new algorithmic bias-reduction and safety mechanisms. For instance, DALL-E 3 will reject requests to depict living artists or public figures. Artists can now choose not to train future OpenAI text-to-image models with their work. (OpenAI and its rivals are being sued for using copyrighted artists’ work to train their generative AI image models.)

As the image-synthesizing generative AI race heats up, DALL-E 3 launches. Midjourney and Stability AI keep improving their image-generating models, putting pressure on OpenAI to keep up.

OpenAI will release DALL-E 3 to premium ChatGPT users in October, then research labs and API customers. The company did not say when or if it would release a free web tool like DALL-E 2 and the original model.

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Biology

The First 3D-Printed Vegan Salmon Is In Stores

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Revo Foods’ “THE FILET – Inspired By Salmon” salmon fillet may be the first 3D-printed food to hit store shelves. said that firm CEO Robin Simsa remarked, “With the milestone of industrial-scale 3D food printing, we are entering a creative food revolution, an era where food is being crafted exactly according to customer needs.”

Mycoprotein from filamentous fungi is used to make the salmon alternative and other meat substitutes. Vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids are in the product, like in animals. Is high in protein, at 9.5 grams per 100 grams, although less than conventional salmon.

Revo Foods and Mycorena developed 3D-printable mycoprotein. Years of research have led to laser-cooked cheesecakes and stacked lab-grown meats.

One reason for this push is because printed food alternatives may make food production more sustainable, which worries the fishing sector. Overfishing reduces fish populations in 34% of worldwide fish stocks.

Over 25% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions come from food production, with 31% from livestock and fish farms and 18% from supply chain components including processing and shipping. According to Revo Foods’ website, vegan salmon fillet production consumes 77 to 86% less carbon dioxide and 95% less freshwater than conventional salmon harvesting and processing.

The salmon alternative’s sales potential is unknown. In order to succeed, Revo Foods believes that such goods must “recreate an authentic taste that appeals to the flexitarian market.”

The commercial distribution of 3D-printed food could change food production.

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