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Snap’s new Spectacles let you see the world in augmented reality
The fourth-gen glasses have built-in ar displays.
By Alex Heath , a deputy editor and author of the Command Line newsletter. He’s covered the tech industry for over a decade at The Information and other outlets.
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Snap’s new Spectacles glasses are its most ambitious yet. But there’s a big catch: you can’t buy them.
On Thursday, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel unveiled the company’s first true augmented reality glasses, technology that he and rivals like Facebook think will one day be as ubiquitous as mobile phones. A demo showed virtual butterflies fluttering over colorful plants and landing in Spiegel’s extended hand.
“The next generation of Spectacles can help unlock a new way to use AR hands-free”
The new Spectacles have dual waveguide displays capable of superimposing AR effects made with Snapchat’s software tools. The frame features four built-in microphones, two stereo speakers, and a built-in touchpad. Front-facing cameras help the glasses detect objects and surfaces you’re looking at so that graphics more naturally interact with the world around you.
These Spectacles, however, aren’t ready for the mass market. Unlike past models, Snap isn’t selling them. Instead, it’s giving them directly to an undisclosed number of AR effects creators through an application program online. (Another indication they aren’t ready for everyday use: the battery only lasts 30 minutes.)
The idea is to encourage a small portion of the 200,000 people who already make AR effects in Snapchat to experiment with creating experiences for the new Spectacles, according to Spiegel. Like the bright yellow vending machines Snap used to sell the first version of Spectacles several years ago, the approach could end up being a clever way to build buzz for the glasses ahead of their wide release. Spiegel has said that AR glasses will take roughly a decade to reach mainstream adoption.
“I don’t believe the phone is going away,” he told The Verge in an interview this week. “I just think that the next generation of Spectacles can help unlock a new way to use AR hands-free, and the ability to really roam around with your eyes looking up at the horizon, out at the world.”
The first two generations of Spectacles, released in 2016 and 2018 , looked like sunglasses with a single camera in the corner of the frame. They let you snap videos (and later photos) in a unique, spherical format that could then be transferred to your phone and posted to Snapchat or another social network.
Snap, which calls itself a camera company, started moving more toward AR in 2019 with the launch of its third-generation Spectacles . That model added a second camera to detect depth in videos, allowing for more advanced effects to be applied afterward. But they lacked displays. You had to shoot a video, import it to Snapchat, and then apply AR effects — which Snap calls Lenses — later.
The new fourth generation of Spectacles come from a secretive hardware division of the company called Snap Lab, which is also working on a camera drone . They weigh 134 grams, more than double the weight of the previous version but far less than Microsoft’s Hololens AR headset. They’re designed to be worn indoors or outdoors with up to 2,000 nits of display brightness, a tradeoff the company clearly made to favor display richness at the expense of battery life.
Two front-facing cameras use the software Snap built for its mobile phone Lenses to automatically detect physical surfaces and place effects in a way that doesn’t obstruct the real world. Two stereo speakers capture audio and allow for the wearer to control them by voice. A touchpad on the side of the frame operates an interface in the displays that Snap calls the Lens Carousel, allowing the wearer to switch AR effects they’re seeing.
The new Spectacles were announced Thursday at Snap’s virtual Partner Summit for developers, where the company previewed a number of new augmented reality features for Snapchat. Its AR clothing try-on tech can now handle watches and glasses, and businesses will be able to more easily add AR versions of their online catalogs for Snapchat’s 500 million monthly users to try and purchase.
“You have to invent a whole new way of interacting with computing”
A new feature, called Connected Lenses, allows multiple people to see and interact with the same scene in AR. Snap is also launching an AR “innovation lab” called Ghost and is committing $3.5 million to support creators making effects, with another $1 million in funding with Verizon to fund AR experiences used over 5G.
While Snap is known primarily for the Snapchat app now, these Spectacles indicate how the company’s ambition is to be a major player in the race to build AR glasses. Facebook, Apple, and other tech giants are currently working on their competing devices. Facebook plans to debut its own pair of smart glasses in partnership with RayBan later this year, though they won’t feature AR displays.
According to Spiegel, head-worn devices like these new Spectacles will create a big shift in how we interact with computers. While Snap is betting that millions of people will eventually want to wear Spectacles, the company is content for now to build in public alongside its creators.
“You have to invent a whole new way of interacting with computing when it’s volumetric and integrated with the space around you,” Spiegel said. “So I don’t see Snapchat transitioning to wearables that directly, but one of the things that’s really fun is to think about what the new interaction paradigms can look like.”
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How Snapchat Is Driving AR Innovation
Table of Contents
Snapchat AR Features and Filters
Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where real-world objects are enhanced by computer-generated information across the senses. It’s a growing industry that has been made even more important with the metaverse’s rise across platforms and industries. When it comes to augmented reality innovations, social media platforms and tech companies are hard at work to create the best tools to be used by users, brands, and creators alike. But when it comes to standout performers, Snap Inc. is leading the way to a hyperrealistic AR future.
- Snapchat’s AR innovations are present not only in their in-app functionality but also in their robotics and wearables technology
- Snap Inc. is poised to be a contender for the top AR platform as it competes with Meta, Apple, Google, and more
- Snapchat’s Ghost Innovations Lab is working on exciting new plans, prototypes, and research with grant-funded opportunities
To Think It All Started With Dog Ears…
Snapchat is driving innovations in AR through the development of its lens technology. What started as fun filters putting dog ears on your head for a selfie has grown into a booming innovative space. And with AR, virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) playing key roles in the metaverse’s impending reality, Snapchat is cementing itself as one of the most influential social platforms today.
Meet The AR Suite
Snapchat’s AR options are robust and provide opportunities for creators and ordinary users alike to experience AR in a creative space. Snap’s AR tools include the in-app Lenses, their highly anticipated wearable Spectacles, the Pixy drone, a camera kit for developers, an AR innovation lab, and more.
Snap Lenses Take The Cake
Much of Snapchat’s AR innovation is the result of its Lens options, which can be applied to in-app images and videos. To date, Snapchat has over 2.5 billion lenses available created by 250,000 lens producers . In total, users have viewed Lenses 3.5 trillion times , which has resulted in 200 million daily interactions . One of its most recent viral filters, which contorts the user’s face into a very realistic cry-face, has generated 1.3 billion views .
Each Lens falls into one of the following categories :
- Utility Lenses: Solves problems, translate languages, take measurements, and more
- Entertainment Lenses: Showcase art, music, and culture
- Shopping Lenses: Enables try-on and product demos
- Self-Expression: Show off personalities and POVs
- Gaming: Here for a good time
- Education: Inspire, teach, and lead change
With a wide variety of Lens genres running the gamut from helpful applications to fun simplicity, it’s clear that Snapchat has a solid hold on what users are interested in from an AR perspective. It is also at the forefront of inclusive initiatives with developments including the American Sign Language (ASL) Lens , which teaches ASL to users through games, fingerspelling tasks, and more through finger-tracking technology.
And because Snapchat is also hard at work finding opportunities for creators and developers to monetize on the app, they’ve also launched a fellowship program that gives qualified candidates opportunities to develop new Lenses. There have also been upgrades made to Snap’s Creator Marketplace where top brands and developers can search for talent to promote and demo new Lens technology. It integrates with the Snap Lens Network, which helps creators find paid opportunities to connect with brands.
Speculating About Spectacles
In addition to Lens technology, which utilizes Snapchat’s in-app camera, the platform has also developed wearable glasses called Spectacles . As part of a broader vision for AR’s future, Spectacles technology aims to bring AR into our daily lives with 3D imagery layered into the real world.
While the glasses are only available to a select number of creators to beta test the technology, for now, it won’t be long until Spectacles and competing wearable tech from the likes of Apple , Google , and Meta become commonplace. In fact, according to a Deloitte study commissioned by Snap Inc., “almost all smartphone users will be frequent AR users by 2025.”
A Drone Called Pixy
One of the newest additions to Snapchat’s host of products is the very real drone, very yellow selfie drone technology. Pixy , which debuted at the Snap Partner Summit last month, takes camera technology into the stratosphere with six pre-programmed flight patterns that help users capture content from a new angle. It’s pocket-sized for optimal transportation and cute as a button, but don’t let that fool you: Pixy is the gateway for the drone x creator pairing to become canon.
F or The Developers
Snap Kit is all about the developers. By giving developers the tools to integrate Snapchat features into other brand applications, Snap is making sure that cross-brand collaborations are more attainable than ever. The Snap Kit includes add-ons for everything including Snap Stories, Bitmojis, ads, Lenses, and more.
Snap’s innovations in AR stem from Ghost , its innovation lab. The lab houses their fellowship program, their prototype track, and their research hub, all of which have grants available for qualifying applicants.
The Fellowship of The Snap
Within the race to reach the AR crown, Snapchat’s progress has been nothing short of impressive. It’s not the first time Snapchat has been the first to make a new feature into a household name. Back in 2016, for example, Snapchat championed the first Stories feature that was then adopted by Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Now, with wearable technology, drones, and digital toolkits taking innovation to the next level, we’re eager to see where the creative minds at the helm take Snap’s vision as the metaverse rises to meet us. We’re also ready for the competition’s answer to these innovations. There’s sure to be more technology and partnerships coming up – and we’re ready to have our minds blown.
Not only that, but influencers are already part of Snap AR – and that won’t change anytime soon. From wearable tech to networking opportunities, creators are taking every chance to partner up with developers and brands on AR content and product testing. If creators aren’t on your radar yet for branded collaborations, it’s time to make a strategic move – if anyone is going to have the AR hook-up, it’s an influencer. And when the name of the game is making those connections early, you know what that means: connect with an influencer now to reap the benefits later.
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Hunt for Clues and Capture Ghouls with Snap’s New AR Game: Ghost Phone
- Open Snapchat and find the game in Lens Explorer or by tapping the Rocket icon in Chat.
- You’ll be prompted with a password to decode and power on the “Ghost Phone” to play.
- Find clues within text messages and apps on the phone.
- Unlock spooky Camera Modes and look around to capture different types of AR ghosts.
- Level up to uncover apps and data to reveal more clues, Camera Modes and ghosts and discover what happened to Lisa.
Snapchat launches a spooky AR game for hunting ghosts around you
Snapchat has launched a new in-app game called Ghost Phone designed to showcase the company’s AR technology by allowing players to discover the secrets of an abandoned phone and hunt supernatural beings around them.
To launch the game, users can either head to Snapchat’s Lens Explorer and find the Lens called Ghost Phone, tap the Rocket icon in Chat or they can click this link directly .
To play, you’ll have to hunt different kinds of ghosts by performing various activities. Players can find clues within text messages and data and unlock Camera Modes to capture the AR ghosts, while also learning more information about the abandoned phone. You’ll also have to get up and move around a bit to complete the game’s tasks, but there’s no Pokémon Go-level effort required.
Ghost Phone will a take while to play, but thankfully, even if you quit and come back to it, your progress is saved.
The company says the game is built using the Lens Studio and web-first game engine PlayCanvas . The game uses Snap’s World Mesh technology and surface recognition to place game objects around the user.
Snap has released a few Bitmoji-styled games previously, but this is one of its first efforts in AR-based gaming. Last month, the social media firm partnered with game studio HiDef to develop a social dance game .
According to the company’s Q2 2022 earnings report released last week, it registered 18% year-on-year growth to reach 347 million daily active users. However, its revenue growth (13%) was well below its previous guidance (20%-25%), and it said, “We are not satisfied with the results we are delivering, regardless of the current headwinds.”
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Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at [email protected] and find him on Twitter @hisamblake
Snap unveiled its latest AR glasses, pushing deeper into the technology it considers its big bet.
Chief executive Evan Spiegel demonstrated the latest version of "Spectacles" that overlay computer graphics atop the wearer's field of vision during the company's annual partner summit on Thursday.
The device includes a touchpad at the frame's hingepoint, two cameras, four microphones and two speakers. The glasses have yet to go on sale, but they've been distributed to select creators and developers, and are available to qualified buyers on a new website .
The glasses respond to voice commands and include overlays designed by artists. These include imagery meant to augment tours of certain locations, give people the feeling of walking through a poem and offer more prosaic experiences like watching an animated dog play fetch. The glasses use Snap's "Scan" technology to identify objects in the camera's field of vision.
Tapping the touchpad brings up a menu of lenses, Snap's name for its augmented reality overlays. The glasses can also be used to play games. And the wearer's view can be recorded and shared to the Snapchat app.
The Spectacles are integrated with Snap's Lens Studio, a software kit that creators and developers use to create lenses.
Scan is gaining prominence on the Snapchat app as well, being upgraded to the camera home screen. That will make its capabilities more accessible to users, including two new features Snap announced. Screenshop will allow users to scan a friend's outfit or clothes from photos saved to their phone and receive recommended similar looks from hundreds of brands. And in partnership with Allrecipes, users will soon be able to scan a collection of ingredients and get recipe recommendations.
Snap plans to fund a $3.5 million "AR Innovation Lab" with an additional $1 million from Verizon for building "5G AR" experiences.
Such moves are part of Snap's broader effort to add "utility" to its flagship app. That includes adding functionality for AR shopping and bringing new features to its Map, which the company has called a multibillion-dollar opportunity . On Thursday Snap announced a new Map feature called Layers, which augments a user's map with images and information related to their location. Examples include showing a user's old photos and videos, nearby restaurants and nearby concerts.
Snap will also build an app with Disney for Disney World visitors to incorporate AR into their photos and videos.
Creator Tools and Updated Numbers
Snap also introduced new features to further boost its arsenal in the creator arms race. Certain creators can now earn money via "gifting" from their subscribers. Creators also now have a new standalone app called "Story Studio" for editing content. And Spotlight, Snapchat's TikTok-copycat that's algorithmically doling out $1 million per day, can now be accessed via the web in addition to the Snapchat app.
The company provided updated user figures as well. Snapchat now boasts 500 million monthly active users and is installed on nearly half of all smartphones in the U.S. Snap highlighted its international growth, noting that 40% of its users are now outside North America, and that daily active users in India grew 100% year-over-year for each of the past five quarters.
Snap's shares were up nearly 6% on the day.
- How Snapchat Plans to Use AR to Compete with Google - dot.LA ›
- Snapchat Sees Spike in Use of Sponsored Lenses - dot.LA ›
- Eyedaptic Uses Augmented Reality to Treat Visual Impairment - dot.LA ›
- Snapchat Rolls Out Updates to Its AR Shopping Feature - dot.LA ›
- Snapchat Is Letting Users Share Their Real-Time Location With Friends - dot.LA ›
- Snap Buys NextMind To Bolster Its AR Hardware Research - dot.LA ›
- The Spectacles of It All: Snap Labs on Its Latest AR Push – WWD ›
- Spectacles by Snapchat | Capture your world in 3D ›
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How Women’s Purchasing Power Is Creating a New Wave of Economic Opportunities In Sports
Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College. Send tips or pitches to [email protected] and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore .
According to a Forbes report last April, both the viewership and dollars behind women’s sports at a collegiate and professional level are growing.
In 2022, the first 32 games of the NCAA tournament had record attendance levels, breaking records set back in 2004, and largely driven by the new and rapidly growing women’s NCAA tournament. WNBA openers this year saw a 21% spike in attendance , with some teams including the LA Sparks reporting triple-digit ticket sales growth, about 121% over 2022’s total. In 2023, the average size of an LA Sparks crowd swelled to 10,396 people, up from 4,701 people.
Women make up half the population, but “also 50% of the folks that are walking into the stadium at Dodger Stadium, or your NFL fans are just about 50% women,” noted Erin Storck, a panelist and senior analyst at Los Angeles-based Elysian Park Ventures .
Storck added that in heterosexual households, women generally manage most of the family’s money, giving them huge purchasing power, a potential advantage for female-run leagues. “There's an untapped revenue opportunity,” she noted.
In the soccer world, Los Angeles-based women’s soccer team Angel City FC has put in the work to become a household name, not just in LA County but across the nation. At an LA Tech Week panel hosted by Athlete Strategies about investing in sports, Angel City head of strategy and chief of staff Kari Fleischauer said that years before launching the women’s National Women’s Soccer League team, Angel City FC was pounding the pavement letting people know about the excitement ladies soccer can bring. She noted community is key, and that fostering a sense of engagement and safety at the team’s home venue, BMO stadium (formerly Banc of California Stadium), is one reason fans keep coming back.
Adding free metro rides to BMO stadium and private rooms for nursing fans to breastfeed or fans on the spectrum to avoid sensory overload, were just some of the ways ACFC tried to include its community in the concept of its stadium, Fleischauer said. She noted, though, that roughly 46% of Angel City fans are “straight white dudes hanging out with their bros.”
“Particularly [on] the woman's side, I'd like to think we do a better job of making sure that there's spaces for everyone,” Fleischauer told the audience. “One thing we realize is accessibility is a huge thing.”
- Athletes, Execs Talk Challenges Facing Women in Sports and Tech ›
- LA's New Women's Soccer Club Includes a Star-Studded Roster of Mostly Female Founders ›
- Can a New Media Company Founded by Olympic Athletes Change How Women's Sports Are Covered? ›
- Women's sports revenue set to grow more than 15% over next three ... ›
- Women's Sports: Are We Any Closer To Gender Equality? - GWI ›
LA Tech Week Day 5: Social Highlights
L.A. Tech Week has brought venture capitalists, founders and entrepreneurs from around the world to the California coast. With so many tech nerds in one place, it's easy to laugh, joke and reminisce about the future of tech in SoCal.
Here's what people are saying about the fifth day of L.A. Tech Week on social:
#LATechWeek has been on 🔥🔥🔥. Yes the events are super cool at amazing venues. But, I’m blown away by the people. I’ve met so many founders building generative AI companies from the ground up. I’m so bullish on LA right now🥳. LA is for builders #longLA Thanks @rpnickson 📸 pic.twitter.com/B6rT2jJYIs — Dr. Kelly O'Brien (@Kvo2013) June 8, 2023
Successful LatinxVC Avanza Summit 2023 in LA! It’s been an amazing few days near the beach w great company. Thank you to our panelists & participants. Huge thanks to our incredible sponsors SVB, Chavez Family Foundation, Annenberg Foundation, PledgeLA, Fenwick & West, Countsy! pic.twitter.com/oVuGIgFurk — LatinxVC (@LatinxVCs) June 9, 2023
30+ gaming startups presented at the A16z Speedrun Demo Day in LA yesterday. Great thanks to the @a16zGames team for an awesome day of events! #LATechWeek pic.twitter.com/DKq8IFo5QZ — Grace Zhou (@graceminzhou) June 9, 2023
📣🤩 What’s the buzz? It’s #LATechWeek from @TechstarsLA & @TechstarsHealth joint demo day with the #Techstar HC team where our @fyelabs founder/CEO Suvojit Ghosh mentored both cohorts! #TechStars demo day highlighted 12 amazing emerging #startups in #healthtech #innovation . 🩺 pic.twitter.com/0RXClCtfDQ — FYELABS (@fyelabs) June 9, 2023
Another successful Coffee On Slauson in the books for #LATechWeek . Special thanks to the good people at Pledge LA, SVB and @GundersonLaw for the ongoing support and the @findyourhilltop staff for providing the space, eats & vibes. ♻️ pic.twitter.com/51cMDoEn30 — Slauson & Co. (@SlausonAndCo) June 9, 2023
The perfect combo to start #LATechWeek Day 5: pastries, coffee, and great convos with industry founders ✨ Fireside chats with @enriquealle , @wp , and @robynpark pic.twitter.com/booYPdekVV — Tech Week (@Techweek_) June 9, 2023
Of course @designerfund has the most amazing pastries at their event. #LATechWeek pic.twitter.com/PjyWlGTQI4 — Jesse Pickard (@jessepickard) June 9, 2023
My favorite event from @Techweek_ has to be "Modern Storytelling & Business Building." Hosted by @STHoward #LATechWeek pic.twitter.com/SV1eexMJ4k — JonnyZeller (@JonnyZeller) June 9, 2023
And the finale of the night was courtesy of the one and only @zedd for an unforgettable end to the "City of Games" party! Hosted by @a16zGames and @100Thieves #LATechWeek pic.twitter.com/hliI9yLKse — Tech Week (@Techweek_) June 9, 2023
Excited to be at the @a16zGames Speedrun Demo Day! Loved the energy and excitement from the companies that pitched there. It was also great to see @Tocelot and @ndrewlee at this amazing #LATechWeek event pic.twitter.com/NfLQO5lR27 — Andy Lee | andypwlee.bit (@andypwlee) June 9, 2023
Thank you to everyone who joined the Sony Venture Fund US team at #LATechWeek for our screening of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Last summer, we started building a presence in LA. Today, it's exciting to host such an event with the @Sony family and the LA VC community. pic.twitter.com/wdDm6qtHdL — Sony Innovation Fund (@Sony_Innov_Fund) June 9, 2023
Time to eat, connect and build while @remi_rodney provided the vibes. 🙏🏽 #LATechWeek @BuildOnBase @developer_dao @WeAreRazorfish pic.twitter.com/QIPh1gjvoA — Hola Metaverso-Blockchain & New Web Tech Events 🎪 (@holametaverso) June 9, 2023
@Lux_Capital at #LATechWeek advancing the impossible to inevitable, from.. ..defense primes partnering with cutting edge defense tech startups, to.. ..hardware x LLMs improving mental health. From the rich and diverse LA ecosystem stems generational companies: pic.twitter.com/v5S5r8JtbU — Shahin Farshchi (@Farshchi) June 9, 2023
LA Tech Week has been a blast! Met some amazing creators, founders and investors from all over the world! #LATechWeek pic.twitter.com/AAh9JFELhe — Chris Germano (@netslayer) June 9, 2023
Had such a blast at LA Tech Week and hosting events for @brexHQ Top highlights were collabing with @pulley on an Emerging Managers / Founder mixer at the @poplco House, rooftop event in Venice, creator panel with @thechangj & proper Korean food with in KTown. Exhausted is an… pic.twitter.com/mGQnSYGPdg — Τyler Robinson (@TyyRob3) June 9, 2023
Did you have fun at @sophiaamoruso ’s launch party for @trustfundvc ? #LATechWeek pic.twitter.com/gbrbXRQ9Xx — Kay (@KaySnels) June 9, 2023
y00tilty in every city with @KaylaLor3n & @cryptochrisg813 . Welcome to the LA @y00tsNFT fam! #LATechWeek #3XP week. pic.twitter.com/6wWKlsTacx — VanG0xH (@CryptoVanGoghs) June 9, 2023
Really enjoyed #LATechWeek . Here are some observations I made 👇 — s.personal.ai (Suman Kanuganti) (@SumanPersonalAI) June 9, 2023
Thank you @TheKofiAmpadu for including me in #demoday with the latest @a16ztxo cohort! It was a real full circle moment to witness the brilliance of both @ChrisLyons & @ZMuse_ & #PledgeLA very own. She’s why we’re #LongLA 🚀💕 #LAtechweek pic.twitter.com/itkKXMxQRb — Qiana Qiana! (@Q_i_a_n_a) June 9, 2023
@upfrontvc Gaming Founders Podcast #iLOVELA #LATechWeek @Techweek_ @KatiaAmeri @mucker @fikavc @bonfire_vc @TenOne10 @WatertowerGroup @ganasvc @IAmRobRyan @john_at_stonks @eva_ho @dereknorton pic.twitter.com/LCbaGXCoW7 — Sean Goldfaden (@seangoldfaden) June 9, 2023
Hosts Kevin Zhang, Partner at @upfrontvc , and Eden Chen, CEO of @pragmaplatform , interviewed two special guests from @raidbaseinc Stephen Lim, Co-Founder & Product Director, and Trevor Romleski, Co-Founder & Game Director. 🎙 #LATechWeek pic.twitter.com/hxHEAoELZ6 — Tech Week (@Techweek_) June 9, 2023
Kicking off @a16zGames @100Thieves City of Games party at #LATechWeek 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/zQcZedG15f — Jon Lai (@Tocelot) June 9, 2023
Yesterday at @socinnovation I got to have this AWESOME conversation with @iamwill — musician, producer, technology entrepreneur, and Founder & CEO of https://t.co/D60y1e2JOu #LATechWeek pic.twitter.com/KBxK6rXyTG — Anna Barber (@annawbarber) June 9, 2023
I absolutely love this game. Proud moment for the team @investwithatlas . #LATechWeek pic.twitter.com/fPZvKXU7TC — Tobias Francis (@TobiasFrancis) June 9, 2023
Had a blast at LA Tech Week this year with @brexHQ From hosting & moderating my first creator panel featuring @BlakeMichael14 , to a fun rooftop night in Venice, and to attending some amazing events such as Watertower’s emerging manager panel and a VC/founder tennis tournament pic.twitter.com/udjfmLHE0L — Jonathan Chang (@thechangj) June 8, 2023
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LA Tech Week: Six LA-Based Greentech Startups to Know
At Lowercarbon Capital ’s LA Tech Week event Thursday, the synergy between the region’s aerospace industry and greentech startups was clear.
The event sponsored by Lowercarbon, Climate Draft (and the defunct Silicon Valley Bank’s Climate Technology & Sustainability team) brought together a handful of local startups in Hawthorne not far from LAX, and many of the companies shared DNA with arguably the region’s most famous tech resident: SpaceX.
Here’s a look at the greentech startups that pitched during the Tech Week event, and how they think what they’re building could help solve the climate crisis.
Arbor : Based in El Segundo, this year-old startup is working to convert organic waste into energy and fresh water. At the same time, it also uses biomass carbon removal and storage to remove carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it in an attempt to avoid further damaging the earth’s ozone layer. At the Tech Week event Thursday, Arbor CEO Brad Hartwig told a stunned crowd that Arbor aims to remove about five billion tons of organic waste from landfills and turn that into about 6 PWh, or a quarter of the global electricity need, each year. Hartwig is an alumni of SpaceX; he was a manufacturing engineer on the Crew Dragon engines from 2016-2018 and later a flight test engineer at Kitty Hawk.
Antora : Sunnyvale-based Antora Energy was founded in 2017, making it one of the oldest companies on the pitching block during the event. Backed by investors including the National Science Foundation and Los Angeles-based Overture VC, Antora has raised roughly $57 million to date, most recently a $50 million round last February . Chief operating officer Justin Briggs said Antora’s goal is to modernize and popularize thermal energy storage using ultra-hot carbon. Massive heated carbon blocks can give off thermal energy, which Antora’s proprietary batteries then absorb and store as energy. It’s an ambitious goal, but one the world needs at scale to green its energy footprint. According to Briggs, “the biggest challenge is how can we turn back variable intermittent renewable electricity into something that's reliable and on demand, so we can use it to provide energy to everything we need.”
Arc : Hosting the panel was Arc, an electric boating company that’s gained surprising momentum, moving from design to delivering its first e-boats in just two years of existence. Founded in 2021, the company’s already 70 employees strong and has already sold some of its first e-boats to customers willing to pay the luxury price tag, CTO Ryan Cook said Thursday. Cook said that to meet the power needs of a battery-powered speedboat, the Arc team designed the vehicle around the battery pack with the goal of it being competitive with gas boats when compared to range and cost of gas. But on the pricing side, it’s not cheap. Arc’s flagship vessel, the Arc One is expected to cost roughly $300,000. During the panel, Cook compared the boat to being “like an early Tesla Roadster.” To date Arc Boats has raised just over $35 million, according to PitchBook , from investors including Kevin Durant, Will Smith and Sean “Diddy” Combs .
Clarity Technology : Carbon removal startup Clarity is based in LA and was founded by Yale graduate and CEO Glen Meyerowitz last year. Clarity is working to make “gigaton solutions for gigaton problems.” Their aim? To remove up to 2,000 billion pounds of carbon from the atmosphere through direct air capture, a process which uses massive fans to move chemicals that capture CO2. But the challenge, Meyerowitz noted in his speech, is doing this at scale in a way that makes an actual dent in the planet’s emissions while also efficiently using the electricity needed to do so. Meyerowitz spent nearly five years working as an engineer for SpaceX in Texas, and added he’s looking to transfer those learnings into Clarity.
Parallel Systems : Based in Downtown LA’s Arts District, this startup is building zero-emission rail vehicles that are capable of long-haul journeys otherwise done by a trucking company. The estimated $700 billion trucking industry, Parallel Systems CEO Matt Soule said, is ripe for an overhaul and could benefit from moving some of its goods off-road to electric railcars. According to Soule, Parallel’s electric battery-powered rail vehicles use 25% of the energy a semi truck uses, and at a competitive cost. Funded in part by a February 2022 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, Parallel Systems has raised about $57 million to date. Its most recent venture funding round was a $49 million Series A led by Santa Monica-based VC Anthos Capital. Local VCs including Riot Ventures and Santa Monica-based Embark Ventures are also backers of Parallel.
Terra Talent : Unlike the rest of the startups pitching at the Tech Week event, Terra Talent was focused on building teams rather than technology. Founder Dolly Singh worked at SpaceX, Oculus and Citadel as a headhunter, and now runs Terra, a talent and advisory firm that helps companies recruit top talent in the greentech space. But, she said, she’s concerned that all the work these startups are doing won’t matter unless we very quickly turn around the current trendlines. “Earth will shake us off like and she will do just fine in 10,000 years,” she said. “It’s our way of living, everything we love is actually here on earth… there’s nothing I love on Mars,” adding that she’s hopeful the startups that pitched during the event will be instrumental in making sure the planet stays habitable for a little while longer.
- Fifth Wall Closes Half-Billion Dollar Fund to Decarbonize Real Estate ›
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- Lowercarbon Capital - Crunchbase Investor Profile & Investments ›
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LA Tech Week Day 4: Social Roundup
La tech week day 3: social highlights, la tech week day 2: social highlights, la tech week day 1: social highlights, bioré’s failed influencer marketing proves mental health campaigns are broken, how will la look in 2028 a look at the city's plan to embrace transformational tech, the lapd spends millions on spy tech. here’s what they’re buying, q&a with the former head of yeezy-adidas on creating fctry lab, two months after robots were introduced into nursing homes, residents can't see them leaving: 'we'd be screwed', at ucla, professors see 'exciting opportunities' in ai writing tools, exclusive: bird plans to go public via spac at $2.3 billion valuation, la vcs weigh in on the top venture capitalists of 2023, here's how to get a digital license plate in california.
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Metail selected as Snap's first Shopping & Fashion GHOST Fellow
Sep 29, 2021
Metail selected as Snap’s first Shopping & Fashion GHOST Fellow
Metail is embarking on an exciting phase after being selected as a Lab Fellow for GHOST - Snap’s AR Innovation Lab. The fellowship will involve working closely with Snap AR’s teams to help build new AR applications that leverage the most advanced capabilities in Snap’s Lens Studio.
Helping shoppers assess design relevance
“The advertising industry was transformed when technology-enabled advertisers to show more relevant online adverts to individuals. However, the visual and physical nature of clothes has made it harder for purely algorithmic approaches to bring this same level of relevance to apparel. This is why we believe AR is a positive change especially given the near-infinite online choice of clothes. AR try-on effortlessly places individuals within clothes and lets them quickly see whether a design could be relevant to them.” Vikesh Shah, New Business Director
A global opportunity
On average, over 200 million daily active users across the world engage with augmented reality on Snapchat every day. Metail will now help Snap provide these users with the next generation of apparel AR Shopping Lenses that can both entertain and increase sales. By leveraging Lens Studio features such as body tracking and the ability to add your own ML models, Metail aims to increase the usefulness of apparel AR try-on whilst also increasing the amount of apparel AR try-on content.
“AR has been embraced with enthusiasm within and beyond fashion. With over a decade’s experience in developing technology for the fashion industry, we are excited to take a lead as Snap AR Fellows and help brands to unlock the potential of AR to connect meaningfully with consumers as well as support a new generation of creators.”, Jim Downing, CEO
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Boo! Can you handle the spooky Ghost Snap app?
Just in time for halloween, here's our review of an ar app that'll scare your pants off..
If you and your friends are bored this Halloween, try out some scary augmented reality apps to raise the tension and send shivers up your spine. A good download is "Ghost Snap" — an augmented reality mobile app for Android devices that lets a ghost haunt you on screen.
Augmented reality apps don't require virtual reality glasses . All you need is your smartphone, in this case, an Android-based device, and access to the app store for your operating system. For Android, that's Google Play.
To start Ghost Snap, you'll first download the app . Once on your smartphone, the app will ask you for permission. Then, the main screen will pop up. The interface is pretty basic — there are options to start, for directions, rate, view credits, and exit.
However, the app does turn your flash on automatically — don't let this alarm you already. Your surroundings will turn towards grainy, green filter—like night vision goggles. If the flash did scare you, the following ad will probably return you to reality.
Use your camera to pan around your surroundings and find the five signs of the ghost. Take pictures of them with the camera button to either summon the ghost or defeat it — the "Ghost Snap" app didn't really make that clear.
After some time, the ghost will appear on screen. It looked like a mix between Slenderman and Edvard Munch's "The Scream." Tap the camera button to make the ghost disappear and take a picture. This will make the ghost disappear while you look for more clues.
Some signs I found were a quote that read, "Don't let him come close," in a cheesy font made to look like blood, flashing lights, and camera glitches. Besides the words, I thought the effects were pretty believable.
The best environment to play this game is in a dark, quiet space with headphones — ideally, virtual reality headphones , which can also be used for augmented reality content . The app utilizes 3D sound, which is pretty impressive. Although there wasn't much variety in sounds, they were realistic and creepy. The footsteps certainly sounded like they were coming toward you.
Overall, this app will probably entertain you for about an hour. I also wouldn't recommend it to anyone below ten unless you want to deal with a week of nightmares. Trust me, I was that kid.
Pros: Mostly believable effects, simple gameplay, and 3D sound.
Cons: The ghosts and signs do not always manifest, the silly words and ads.
And if you are an Apple user, we recommend looking at Snap Ghost - Camera Hunter . It's an app available on the App Store. This app allows users to add ghosts to their pictures to scare friends, family, or co-workers. Just make sure your iPhone or iPad is running iOS 12.0 or later.
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Rosatom Starts Production of Rare-Earth Magnets for Wind Power Generation
TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom has started gradual localization of rare-earth magnets manufacturing for wind power plants generators. The first sets of magnets have been manufactured and shipped to the customer.
In total, the contract between Elemash Magnit LLC (an enterprise of TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom in Elektrostal, Moscow region) and Red Wind B.V. (a joint venture of NovaWind JSC and the Dutch company Lagerwey) foresees manufacturing and supply over 200 sets of magnets. One set is designed to produce one power generator.
“The project includes gradual localization of magnets manufacturing in Russia, decreasing dependence on imports. We consider production of magnets as a promising sector for TVEL’s metallurgical business development. In this regard, our company does have the relevant research and technological expertise for creation of Russia’s first large-scale full cycle production of permanent rare-earth magnets,” commented Natalia Nikipelova, President of TVEL JSC.
“NovaWind, as the nuclear industry integrator for wind power projects, not only made-up an efficient supply chain, but also contributed to the development of inter-divisional cooperation and new expertise of Rosatom enterprises. TVEL has mastered a unique technology for the production of magnets for wind turbine generators. These technologies will be undoubtedly in demand in other areas as well,” noted Alexander Korchagin, Director General of NovaWind JSC.
TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom incorporates enterprises for the fabrication of nuclear fuel, conversion and enrichment of uranium, production of gas centrifuges, as well as research and design organizations. It is the only supplier of nuclear fuel for Russian nuclear power plants. TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom provides nuclear fuel for 73 power reactors in 13 countries worldwide, research reactors in eight countries, as well as transport reactors of the Russian nuclear fleet. Every sixth power reactor in the world operates on fuel manufactured by TVEL. www.tvel.ru
NovaWind JSC is a division of Rosatom; its primary objective is to consolidate the State Corporation's efforts in advanced segments and technological platforms of the electric power sector. The company was founded in 2017. NovaWind consolidates all of the Rosatom’s wind energy assets – from design and construction to power engineering and operation of wind farms.
Overall, by 2023, enterprises operating under the management of NovaWind JSC, will install 1 GW of wind farms. http://novawind.ru
Elemash Magnit LLC is a subsidiary of Kovrov Mechanical Plant (an enterprise of the TVEL Fuel Company of Rosatom) and its main supplier of magnets for production of gas centrifuges. The company also produces magnets for other industries, in particular, for the automotive
industry. The production facilities of Elemash Magnit LLC are located in the city of Elektrostal, Moscow Region, at the site of Elemash Machine-Building Plant (a nuclear fuel fabrication facility of TVEL Fuel Company).
Rosatom is a global actor on the world’s nuclear technology market. Its leading edge stems from a number of competitive strengths, one of which is assets and competences at hand in all nuclear segments. Rosatom incorporates companies from all stages of the technological chain, such as uranium mining and enrichment, nuclear fuel fabrication, equipment manufacture and engineering, operation of nuclear power plants, and management of spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste. Nowadays, Rosatom brings together about 350 enterprises and organizations with the workforce above 250 K. https://rosatom.ru/en/
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The Ghost of January 6th Haunts 2024
By Susan B. Glasser
Listen to this story.
The long shadow of January 6, 2021, hangs over this election. Three years after a mob of Americans stormed their own Capitol, seeking to block Joe Biden’s victory and keep Donald Trump in the White House, Biden and Trump each began 2024 with plans to make the tragic events of that day the centerpiece of his campaign. For the incumbent, it’s the rationale for his entire Presidency and the most compelling reason to give him a second term—a continuation of the “battle for the soul of America” that animated Biden’s run in 2020. For Trump, it’s the false battle cry around which he hopes to rally the MAGA mob once again. Already, he has proved that millions of his supporters are immune to the truth about January 6th. It will be an incredible act of political sorcery if he can ride his lies about the 2020 election and its violent aftermath back into the White House. And yet, as the year begins, his chances of doing so are better than even.
On Wednesday, in his first day back in the office this new year, the President hosted lunch for a group of American historians to advise him on how to frame the stakes of this election. One attendee, Heather Cox Richardson, a Civil War scholar whose latest book, “ Democracy Awakening ,” was Biden’s most conspicuous purchase during a day of post-Thanksgiving shopping, has called the visual of Trumpists parading the Confederate flag through Congress on January 6th “a gut-punch larger than any other moment in history.” Biden’s first campaign ad of the year , released on Thursday, leans heavily on the history theme, interspersing violent images of January 6th with old footage of civil-rights and suffragist marches, of Martin Luther King, Jr., and American Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima in the Second World War. “I’ve made the preservation of American democracy the central issue of my Presidency,” Biden says.
The challenge for Biden, though, is recapturing the visceral outrage of the insurrection—voters have, for years, been bombarded with horrific images of the riot and a steady drip of investigative revelations about how Trump helped conjure it into being—while imbuing it with new meaning and relevance. It is a necessary act of remembrance, but one that risks reminding Americans of how annoyed they are about a 2024 election that looks very likely to be a repeat of 2020. Is there anyone who truly relishes the prospect of Biden and Trump going at it once again, changing few minds while reinforcing for everyone how mired we remain in the division and rancor of that unpleasant year? No country would want to be stuck in such a doom loop.
But doom loop it looks to be. There is no moving on from that day so long as its instigator remains the leader of the Republican Party. In less than two weeks, Trump is on track to secure what could be the largest win in the history of the Iowa Republican caucuses. His lead is so wide that some expect him to sew up the Republican nomination by March. If and when Trump does, he will have accomplished it with a platform that doubles down on January 6th and his own sorry role in calling forth the mob. He is not denying the facts; he is outright rewriting them.
To his original Big Lie about the “rigged election” in 2020, Trump has added ever more lies. He now calls January 6th “a beautiful day” and the nearly thirteen hundred defendants arrested in connection with the attack on the Capitol martyrs and “hostages .” In recent months as he has campaigned for his return to the White House, he has dangled pardons for the insurrectionists, to be issued “on Day 1” of his second term, and threatened instead to lock up the police who tried to defend the Capitol that day. “When people who love our country protest in Washington, they become hostages unfairly imprisoned for long portions of their life,” he told a rally in Iowa last month.
This rhetoric is likely only to escalate in the course of the campaign, as Trump faces both a federal and a state trial on criminal charges connected with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. In fourteen states, meanwhile, there is pending litigation to keep Trump off the ballot on the ground that his role in inciting the events of January 6th makes him an “insurrectionist” as defined by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution—a matter soon to make its way to the Supreme Court since both Colorado and Maine have already disqualified him from their ballots. Trump’s legal team is also challenging the federal case against him, on the basis that his extraordinary post-2020-election acts were part of his official duties and thus covered by Presidential “immunity.” One thing we can pretty much say for sure about 2024 is that not a day will go by without the ghost of January 6th echoing loudly in our courtrooms and in our politics.
Another sad but inescapable truth is that Trump’s January 6th revisionism has proved even more politically salient with the Republican electorate than anyone could have predicted on the day itself. Remember all those panicky texts to the White House, begging Trump to call off the mob? “He is destroying his legacy,” Laura Ingraham warned Mark Meadows , Trump’s chief of staff. Even Don, Jr., begged Meadows to intervene: “He’s got to condemn this shit. Asap.” But Trump, it turns out, knew better. A Washington Post /University of Maryland survey published this week found that, in the intervening three years, the number of Republicans who believe Trump’s lies about a “rigged election” has, in fact, gone up. Today, only thirty-one per cent of Republicans believe that Biden is the “legitimate” President, down from thirty-nine per cent in late 2021. The number of Republicans, meanwhile, who believe that Trump personally bears “a great deal” or “a good amount” of responsibility for the events of January 6th has gone down from twenty-seven per cent two years ago to just fourteen per cent today. The right-wing media ecosystem has been so effective in pumping out Trump’s propaganda that the Post /Maryland poll found thirty-four per cent of Republicans now say they believe the bogus conspiracy theory that the F.B.I. itself was responsible for inciting the attack on the Capitol.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned in recent years about Trump’s hold over the G.O.P., it’s this: where his voters go, eventually, even the Republican holdouts in Congress will follow. On Wednesday, Trump was endorsed by House Majority Whip Tom Emmer—barely two months after Trump sank Emmer’s candidacy for the House Speakership, with a social-media post warning that Emmer would be a “tragic mistake” and calling him a “Globalist RINO ” who was “totally out-of-touch” with Republican voters. One reason for Trump’s animus? Emmer had voted to certify Biden’s election on January 6th. “They always bend the knee,” the Times quoted Trump as saying of Emmer’s act of self-abasement.
Lesson learned: there is no political future in the G.O.P. without bowing to even Trump’s mightiest lies. The Republicans’ modern-day political alchemist has, in just three years, made 2020-election denialism—and its corollary set of falsehoods about January 6th—a core tenet in the Republican catechism. Who’s to say where this will all end up? The prospect of Trump restored as President, back in the Oval Office on January 20, 2025, pardoning himself and all the other “hostages” seems a lot more real than it did three years ago.
Usually, it’s the winning side that dictates how history will be written. No wonder Biden has started this campaign year by calling in the historians. ♦
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