CONTRIBUTOR

Augmented reality’s wooing of artificial intelligence (AI) may be the main takeaway at the just concluded Augmented World Expo in Long Beach, California, but Apple may have brought a broken heart to romantic inclinations with the news that it will stop development of its Vision Pro headset. That’s not to say there were no interesting devices on hand: A new AR laptop and AR advances in the field of surgery were especially noteworthy.

Headlining the AR/AI dating news front is Snapchat’s new use of generative AI that allows users to see more realistic special effects when filming themselves; a move largely interpreted as an effort by Snapchat to stay ahead of its social media rivals. Snapchat now includes an AI assistant that automatically generates a time-saving 3D image from a prompt so developers don’t have to create a 3D image from scratch.

The AI tools also may be used by advertisers to create more realistic shopping experiences that allow consumers to virtually try on clothing, for example.

In a similar vein, Microsoft says it will debut in July an AI-powered solution for the creation of better avatars. Once a user uploads a photo, the AI algorithms analyze the visual features to offer three best matches for face shape, hair, eyewear and facial hair. The new avatar feature is designed to complement improved wardrobe choices released in May and a more expressive “emote” feature for Teams meetings in 3D environments available in July. Combined, the three may redefine “business casual” in virtual spaces.

AI also is the cornerstone of a specialized “Fundamental Surgery” platform developed by FundamentalVR for training surgeons.  FormativeVR calculates a user’s risk levels of harming patients in real time in a virtual environment, allowing for immediate intervention and correction education. Movement is tracked using telemetry data.

“Our AI approach marks a transformative shift in surgical training,” says Richard Vincent, co-founder and CEO of FormativeVR. “By providing real-time insights and personalized guidance, Fundamental Surgery is revolutionizing how surgeons acquire and refine their skills, ultimately leading to safer and more effective patient care.”

Among the more interesting AR oriented devices is a “Spacetop” laptop that Sightful, the Israeli developer, describes as a 100-inch laptop that fits in your backpack. The key component is modified XREAL Air 2 Pro glasses that include a pair of OLED display panels with a diagonal field of view of 50 inches. Spacetop is a mobile big screen with lots of privacy.

“Laptops today look and behave much as they have since the early 2000s,” says Sightful. “Meanwhile, augmented reality has been stuck as an interesting but impractical experiment trapped in big, bulky headsets with very little use to the average person. Spacetop establishes a daily utility for AR.”

Apple, meanwhile, casts a pall on the augmented reality world by suspending development of its Vision Pro headset to reportedly focus of the creation of a cheaper and lighter model, although no one seems to expect its arrival soon.  Demand for the high-priced Vision Pro is reportedly much weaker than expected.