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Product Watch December 1, 2022

Metaverse Wearables Offer Wireless Motion Capture



Sony has announced a new motion-tracking system of metaverse wearables empowering users to control a virtual digital avatar in real-time.

The Sony system named ‘Mocopi’ features six colorful wearables, each looking something like an oversized button, but smaller than an average watch face. The package includes 2 wearables each for arms and legs, one for the waist, and one for the head. According to Sony, each wearable is a superlightweight 8 grams.

Wearables That Require No Base Station

Mocopi is said to be a riff on motion and copy, reflecting its use as a motion input device. The system uses Bluetooth technology to pair its wearables to either an iPhone or Android device in conjunction with a motion capture smartphone app such as Unity.

Sony describes Mocopi as a completely wireless system that does not require a base station, making the system extremely portable.

As Sony itself states (auto-translated from Japanese to English via Google):

“Mocopi is a motion capture system that can easily perform full body tracking in 3D anywhere by simply attaching 6 small sensors. Not only for those who want to try full-body tracking, but it can be used anywhere, so it will expand the range of your activities, such as outdoor locations using avatars.”

Sony further states that the whole bundle can be charged in 90 minutes or less with a battery life of up to 10 hours, although it does place some usage caveats on the second part of that claim.

Sony says the system will be available in Japan from January 2023 and it is expected to retail at 49,500 yen (around £60).

There is no global release date thus far, and some details remain more than a little hazy. 

Metaverse wearables from Sony control digital avatars

Mocopi users will be able to control digital avatars in real time.

So far the technology has been marketed for its potential to control digital avatars, but it is conceivable that it could find other applications perhaps even in the next wave of move-to-earn applications.

That will very much depend on whether the system finds itself interoperable with a wide range of systems. Some questions about Mocopi may be answered when Sony demonstrates the tech at the Virtual Market 2022.


Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney.


China Catches Up On Quantum Computers, Makes 1st Delivery



China Catches Up On Quantum Computers, Makes 1st Delivery

China has officially caught up with Canada and USA in the race to deliver a complete quantum computer system to a customer according to a state media report.

Chinese quantum computing company, Origin Quantum Computing Technology developed a 24-qubit Wuyuan system before delivery to an unknown user more than a year ago, the science ministry’s Science and Technology Daily reported.

Also read: How AI Can Accelerate Metaverse Development

According to Origin Quantum, they are the only Chinese company in the quantum computing industry that can deliver real quantum computers as well as full-stack development and follow up services.

According to a statement sent to the Global Times on Monday by East China’s Anhui Province based Quantum Computing Research Centre, the group developed the computer and successfully delivered it to a user.

“More than 100 quantum computing companies in the world have put enormous investment into quantum research and development. Canada’s quantum computing company sold its first quantum computer in 2011, followed by IBM of the US in 2019.

“Chinese Origin Quantum delivered a quantum computer in 2021,” Zhang Hui, director of the Anhui Quantum Computing Engineering Research Center was quoted as saying.

Eyebrow raising announcement

The announcement by Chinese state media has raised eyebrows among skeptics questioning its timing.

Weifeng Zhong, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va told TechNewsWorld that this could be a gimmick to just show China as a tech giant with a transparent administration.

“Quantum technology has a high priority for national security in China. If this were something very important, I doubt it would be disclosed like this in a transparent way by Chinese authorities,” explained Zhong.

“The fact that it was delayed for a year suggests that they realize now that it’s not important to national security, so they’re trying to use it to build China’s image as a technology leader at a time when they’re trying to open up their economy to the rest of the world,” added Zhong.

But what is quantum computing?

A quantum computer is a type of computer that uses quantum mechanics to store and process data, as opposed to classical computers that use classical mechanics. Quantum computers use quantum bits (qubits), which can exist in multiple states at once, to perform computations that are not possible on classical computers, making them particularly well-suited for certain types of complex calculations.

The  24-qubit Wuyuan quantum computer based on superconducting technology developed by the same company  becomes the third to be delivered to customers after Canada in 2011 and USA’s IBM in 2019.

Superconducting technology is currently one of the most mature and well-developed implementations of quantum computing, and many companies and research organizations are working to develop and commercialize superconducting quantum computers. Superconducting technology is one of the main implementations of quantum computing.

In superconducting quantum computers, quantum bits (qubits) are made from tiny electrical circuits that are cooled to very low temperatures, close to absolute zero, in order to minimize the amount of thermal energy and increase their coherence time, which is the time during which a qubit can maintain its quantum state.

What does China offer in its quantum computers

Speed: Quantum computers can perform certain operations much faster than classical computers, which can greatly speed up complex computations.

Parallel processing: Quantum computers can perform multiple calculations simultaneously, which allows for more efficient processing of large amounts of data.

Simulating complex systems: Quantum computers can be used to simulate complex systems, such as molecules and materials, which can lead to new discoveries in fields such as chemistry and materials science.

Cryptography: Quantum computers can be used to break certain encryption algorithms, which makes them useful for developing new, more secure encryption methods.

Optimization problems: Quantum computers can be used to solve complex optimization problems, such as logistics and scheduling problems, which have many potential real-world applications.

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How Google Is Joining the Text-to-Image AI Race



How Google Is Joining the Text-to-Image AI Race
Think up your pictures.

Two of the AI technologies that have been gaining traction are the Text-to-Image and Text-to-Video AI systems, and Google has joined the race to provide them. These systems are trained on large datasets of images, videos and their associated text descriptions.

They can be used for a variety of applications, such as creating photorealistic images from written descriptions, generating images for product listings, or creating illustrations for books and other documents.

On the fore front of development has been OpenAI’s DALL-E text-to-image AI system, which has been dominating for a while. However, tech giants like Microsoft, Meta, and Google have joined the race to create similar AI tools to bring to the market. Also, Midjourney has been garnering lots of attention.

Also read: New Metaverse Product M3 is Focused on Senior Citizens Healthcare

According to Joseph Foley Google announced and showcased a glimpse of their text-to-image AI system in May 2022 and officially released parts of the working system to the public in November of the same year. One of the key features of Imagen is its ability to generate photorealistic images.

This means that the images generated by the system are so realistic, they could be mistaken for actual photographs.

However, this might not be the case when it comes to AI systems that generate images from text, as some of the images come out blurry and the AI often confuses what the user prompted to the image that is produced.

DALL-E is one system that has been found to misunderstand the text prompts and producing different results than intended.

Google beat their chest

Google research claims that their text-to-image AI is the best on the market beating other systems like VQ-GAN+CLIP, Latent Diffusion Models, and DALL-E 2 both in terms of sample quality and image-text alignment.

According to Joseph Foley’s article, Google has also released sample images that suggest that it is a high-end AI tool that could take on the competition. However, the images have raised concerns over copyright abuse and the security of artists jobs.

Although Google’s Imagen AI seems to be claiming its place within the AI space, Google have not yet released the entire system to the public, they have only given a glimpse with limited functionalities through their AI test kitchen app, which they use for Beta testing of their AI systems under development.

AI systems reinforcing stereotypes?

Whilst these AI systems have proved that they can be used to create beautiful artwork, concerns have been raised over their social biases and stereotypes when generating images. According to James Vincent, researchers have also found that OpenAI’s DALL-E has the ability to create images that are based on some social bias like gender, race and sexuality.

Both Google and OpenAI have decided not to give full public access of their image-to-text AI systems with Google citing their system is not yet ready for full public use, while they work on a way to address social and cultural bias for future release.

Google also noted that there were limitations to this, including “several ethical challenges facing text-to image research broadly.”

The company admitted this could impact “society in complex ways,” and there is a risk of misuse of such models.

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Apple VR Glass Won’t Come Anytime Soon, Firm Plans Cheaper MR Headset



Apple VR Glass Won’t Come Anytime Soon, Firm Plans Cheaper MR Headset

The market can expect to get hold of the much awaited Apple mixed reality headset this year, but the tech giant has shelved its planned follow up product – the Apple Augmented Reality (AR) glasses due to technical challenges.

Apple had originally planned to release the AR glasses dubbed the Apple Glass after the mixed reality headset hit the market, which combines both the AR and virtual reality (VR). That part of the plan has now been put on hold.

Also read: Microsoft CEO Talked Up Metaverse at WEF as Firm Shut Down VR Metaverse Unit

The Apple Glass were originally scheduled for release this year before delaying them until 2025, but now the product has been delayed indefinitely.

Bloomberg reports that the company now wants to follow up with a lower-cost version of mixed reality headset as soon as 2024 or early 2025, according to sources close to the developments.

Although the mixed reality headset is expected to cost around $3 000, Bloomberg says Apple is planning to follow up with a lower cost mixed reality headset that cost around $1 500.

In December, Apple-focused supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo estimated the group would ship its mixed reality headset during the second half of 2023 and not the second quarter citing software related issues for the delay.

The lightweight AR kit is like traditional glasses and is smaller as well as more complex to manufacture.

According to Mark Gurman’s Power On Newsletter, Apple had until recently planned to unveil the headset this month, but has pushed back the event to its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June.

Last year there was also speculation the tech giant could unveil the headset at the WWDC 2022.

The cost factor

Bloomberg says high cost could make Apple headset pricey for the market and make them a niche product.

The initial mixed reality device due this year will cost $3 000. The supposedly high price is a result of its use of advanced and high-resolution displays, more than 10 cameras, sensors to determine where a user is looking, and both a Mac-grade M2 processor and a dedicated chip for handling AR and VR visuals.

Now Apple may be considering lowering the price of the follow-up mixed reality device by using chips on par with those on the iPhone rather than components found in higher-end Mac computers

Apple brings competition to Meta

Apple will be competing with Meta’s mixed reality headset which costs $1 500, a price that Apple may strive to get closer to with its lower end model.

The mixed reality headset combines elements of augment reality and virtual reality, with components including eyeball tracking, multiple cameras, pancake optics and lenses.

AR users see world through a lens that is overlaid with digital images and data. VR on the other hand, such as Meta’s Oculus, encloses users in a digital world.

VR headsets are the cutting edge of consumer technology right now and Meta, Google and other big tech companies have been eyeing the space for years now, so it’s not surprising that Apple wants to be involved too.

Bloomberg however says the shifting plan underscore the challenges Apple faces pushing into the new industry as its dreams of offering a lightweight pair of AR glasses that people could wear all day now appears many years away — if it happens at all.

But ZDNET says Apple generally has a tendency to wait and watch when it comes to new products rather than be the first to the market. But the question is whether the market for, and consumer interest in VR and AR headsets has actually reached the point at which Apple needs to get involved.

The VR headsets, a market currently dominated by Facebook owner Meta Platforms Incl, offer more immersive experience, with people typically using them to play video games, communicate in virtual meeting rooms and watch video.

In contrast, AR glasses overlay visuals and information on real-world views.

The hope is that users could wear such glasses as they go about a normal day, but earlier attempts at the concept – such as Google Glass – haven’t gained traction.



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