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Is Spatial Computing the Next Big Thing? Apple’s Vision Pro Have the Answer

Is Spatial Computing the Next Big Thing? Apple’s Vision Pro Have the Answer

Spatial Computing existed long before Apple released Vision Pro this 2024. However, the brand-new headset designed by the Cupertino visionaries has put the term in the spotlight again. But, what exactly is Spatial Computing?

 

What is Spatial Computing

Spatial Computing refers to a digital environment where virtual and physical worlds seamlessly blend together, enabling users to interact with digital content in the context of their physical surroundings. It involves technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) to overlay digital information onto the real world or create entirely immersive virtual environments.

In other words, Spatial Computing is like adding a layer of digital magic to the real world. Imagine wearing special glasses that can project virtual objects onto your surroundings or create entire new worlds that you can explore as if you’re really there. It’s a way of merging the digital world with the physical world around us, allowing us to interact with technology in more immersive and natural ways.

The uses for Spatial Computing are endless, although the technology and the devices have been available yet for a short time among us. Here is a combination of existing and future uses of Spatial Computing across different industries:

  • Retail. Interactive shopping experiences to visualize items before purchase, for example virtual clothing.
  • Education. Training simulation on multiple sectors to practice tasks at a more realistic (but virtual) environment, for example a surgery simulation.
  • Design. Visualize creations on 3D spaces to explore and modify effectively before production. For example, a great tool for architects and their designs.
  • Health. Probably one of the verticals embracing Spatial Computing more closely. Medical training, patient education, anatomy visualization…and many other cases.
  • Gaming. Together with Health, another niche going at the vanguard of Spatial Computing. Interaction between players and characters or objects jumps from fantasy to reality.
  • Industry. Installation guidance, maintenance and more situations in which Spatial Computing provides an improved and efficient experience for technicians.

 

Apple Vision Pro: Tipping Point for Spatial Computing?

Just like PC’s and Mac’s made personal computing available world-wide or iPhone’s started the smartphone era, is Apple’s Vision Pro the game-changer for Spatial Computing?

There are several reasons to think so and maybe just one that suggests the opposite, its price. The cost of Vision Pro is $3.499, three and half times more than the iPhone 15 Pro… a high entry barrier for the average user. However, motives for claiming that Vision Pro marks a new era on Spatial Computing are also strong:

  • Real Experience. Even Mark Zuckerberg has recognized that “Apple’s eye tracking is really nice”, said in a recent video after trying Vision Pro and comparing them to Meta’s Quest 3. A more precise mixed reality experience, an intuitive user interface that simplifies interaction with virtual content in physical space, would definitely make spatial computing more accessible to a wider audience.

  • Software Ecosystem. Tools, development kits, apps… the more software available for Vision Pro the bigger attraction from the audience.
  • Momentum. World’s most famous accelerator YCombinator has published its latest request for startups, a call for entrepreneurs and companies operating in different categories to apply for the incubator if they match the selection. Guess what, Spatial Computing is on that list. This suggests a consolidated interest from accelerators and investors on the topic.

 

GoHub Ventures’ Spatial Computing Portfolio: Onirix and Union Avatars

As a VC claiming to be ‘the believers behind the believers’, Spatial Computing is already present at GoHub Ventures’ portfolio. Onirix and Union Avatars are two of the startups backed by our fund that are exploring Spatial Computing solutions. Here is what their founders think of Vision Pro:

Is Vision Pro a game changer just like the iPhone was?

Pedro Javier Sáez (CEO at Onirix): “Yes, absolutely. None of the iPhone, iPad, Mac, AirPods or Apple Watch were first when they launched because computers, phones, earphones…already existed. However, they all introduced a new reality for consumers and it will happen the same with Vision Pro. Apple made over $600 million selling Vision Pro in a weekend, there’s still a long road ahead…but we’re on track for a massive adoption of a device that will replace smartphones. Necessity has been created.”

Cai Felip and Jordi Conejero (Founders of Union Avatars): “We believe Vision Pro will have a market impact on levels only seen with iPod or iPhone. There’s massive media coverage and hundreds of thousands of searches proving public interest in this new thing and the potential it has. It will change the way we interact with digital content and will integrate technology even more on many daily aspects of life.”

What’s the connection between Vision Pro and your startup or the industry you’re in? How could transform it? Do you work on any current solution involving Vision Pro?

Pedro Javier Sáez (CEO at Onirix): “We consider Vision Pro a tipping point and we’ve been waiting for it. The competition they generate with Meta Quest, Samsung… marks a new era for this technology from a ‘nice to have’ into a ‘must to have’. The glasses represent a new user experience mixing real world with digital information. A huge amount of websites will move from 2D to 3D which represents an enormous opportunity for companies like Onirix to help create experiences that work on different devices and put your company ahead of the competition in areas like user engagement.”

Víctor Javier Pérez (Revenue Manager at Onirix): “Each context requires a different level of immersion. Today’s headsets fight to replace tablets, computers or game consoles…but future glasses models may be a substitute for the smartphone. Starting to build Augmented or Mixed Reality experiences on multi devices helps bending the learning curve.”

Have a look at Onirix on Meta Quest 3, soon to be at Vision Pro as well. The company is an official partner of Meta and has secured early access to their devices as part of a mutual collaboration program.

Cai Felip and Jordi Conejero (Founders of Union Avatars): “Everything that helps make immersive experiences more realistic both in professional and personal environments goes in our favor, especially for entertainment use cases. We’re currently exploring how to integrate ourselves within Apple’s Spatial Computing ecosystem in order to expand our avatar creation technology.”

 

Startups Leading the Spatial Computing Transformation

Giants like Meta, Apple, Google, Samsung or Epson are some of the companies leading the Spatial Computing transformation. However, we want to highlight lesser-known disrupting at Spatial Computing, just like ours Onirix and Union Avatars:

  • Varjo. Extended Reality hardware for training, simulation and design.
  • Ultraleap. Hand tracking technology for a more natural interaction with virtual environments without the need for controllers.
  • 6D.ai. Spatial Computing platform for developers to create and share AR experiences.
  • Taqtile. Enterprise AR solutions that overlay digital instructions onto physical objects.
  • Tobii Pro. Eye tracking technology for research and analysis.Vuzix: Smart Glasses and AR Eyewear for enterprise and consumer markets.
  • Eonite. Software for 3D mapping and tracking.
  • Miraisens. 3D Haptics Technology that offers a real sensation of touch and texture by generating illusions.
  • Nreal. Lightweight, consumer-friendly AR glasses that offer high-quality visuals and immersive experiences.
  • Matterport. 3D scanning and spatial data solutions for creating immersive virtual tours and digital twins of physical spaces.
Sara Sanjuan, Head of Marketing & Communicarions at GoHub Ventures
Feb 22 · 2024 Sara Sanjuan Head of Marketing & Comms

Fundraising Strategies: Insights from Years in the VC Arena

Fundraising Strategies: Insights from Years in the VC Arena

Although these days it might seem that there are startups and funds just about everywhere, I would suggest that this is in fact a relatively recent development. If we look at Spain, it is only now that second and third cycle entrepreneurs are finally being identified, i.e., individuals who have founded a “technological” startup, have successfully sold it and have then returned with a new idea.

Tuenti, Social Point and Idealista, to name but three of the most high-profile cases, pushed startups to the center of the stage, showed the business community that tech entrepreneurship affords huge opportunities, and laid the foundations for what is now a country featuring several high-performance hubs (Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and Bilbao), a law that brought improvements, and local funds able to lead decent-sized rounds.

As a venture capitalist and after eight years on the front line, first of all I would proffer a tip that may seem self-evident yet is anything but: founders need to measure the timing of funding very carefully. Raising a round in the middle of a venture capital winter is very different from doing so in times of absolute buzz, or at the peak of a technology’s hype or when that industry vertical is on the slide. This decision will set the startup’s value and future growth requirements in stone.

Once you take the decision to embark on this career, two things come into play. Firstly, funds greatly welcome the fact that the entrepreneur seeks them out. Rather than playing the quantity game, it is better to stress the qualitative dimension: I want you and I want you for these reasons. Express a genuine interest in the potential investors, emphasizing why you specifically want them on board.

Secondly, it is crucial that the startup knocks on the VC’s door with references, with a background, and with the endorsement of other proven entrepreneurs. The cornerstone of the founder-fund relationship is not the initial email or the subsequent video call: it is reputation. This prompts another question: are events essential to get good press? The best event (and the best networking) is a dinner at a serial entrepreneur’s home.

Besides, in the startup funding game, cultivating long-term relationships is a strategic win. Prioritize connections with proven colleagues and investors for a track record that speaks for itself. Beyond a one-time pitch, this approach builds trust and opens doors for ongoing support across various ventures. To delve deeper into understanding investors, prioritize exploring their portfolios as part of your journey. It’s not just about the immediate pitch; it’s about playing the long-term game and winning over investors with your proven history, talking with portfolio experience and even aligning your expertise with the fund thesis.

We always talk about the pitch and the deck, the obvious next steps in this fledgling relationship, and here I would emphasize not only eloquence and look (eloquence depends on the speaker; the look can be hired) but also keeping track of all the information made available to investors. Spending money in the look of the pitch deck is also advised, in a competitive landscape, the use of visuals becomes particularly valuable. A data room is indispensable and the most scalable way to get across a startup’s KPIs. It is also recommended to send a monthly update that really helps to generate transparency and builds trust with the VC.

As you embark on this journey, careful budget management is key. Manage your budget by not spending on expensive M&A advisories, consider prioritizing expenditures on valuable investor information and databases. Combining an in-depth understanding of VC portfolios with savvy resource allocation increases the likelihood of building meaningful connections with investors and optimizes fundraising efficiency. Sometimes, specially in advanced stages, a dedicated investor relations profile can be valuable, balancing this role is essential to avoid overwhelming the CEO. Traditionally, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has shouldered this responsibility, embodying a conventional corporate image. However, in the evolving VC landscape, bringing in a professional with diverse commercial skills can enhance the organization’s capacity to effectively pursue and secure funding from various sources.

As for the industry verticals and technologies that funds cherish most, we already know there are all kinds of investment theses. Leveraging the location in the world where you operate is arguably almost more germane. In Spain, an edtech will cash in on the language factor; if you are a fintech you will find enormous opportunities in the United Kingdom; in France there is a significant state aid framework.

Artificial intelligence is presently at the forefront of technological advancements. However, as always, there will be an 80-20 pattern: 20% of the players will grab 80% of the market. There will be business opportunities in that other 20% free from the stranglehold of a few, as there still are in SaaS (software as a service), cybersecurity, process management, and technology that supports traditional sectors amenable to speedy digital transformation (restaurants, fitness centers, etc.).

Venture capital fund and selection teams meticulously scrutinize potential investments, and certain red lines can act as obstacles. A founder’s first startup without a solid foundation of intellectual property or proprietary technology may give pause, signaling a potential lack of unique value or defensibility in the market. Additionally, unvalidated business models raise skepticism about the startup’s viability and market fit. Furthermore, seeking an excessive amount of funding or presenting an overly diluted cap table can be perceived as signs of financial mismanagement or an unrealistic understanding of the startup’s needs. While exceptions might exist, these elements can create hesitancy among investors.

In essence, entrepreneurship and venture capital are not bound by rigid formulas. Amidst the complexities of numbers, situational analyses, and business models, the underestimated force of common sense proves to be a formidable tool. Success transcends quantitative metrics, relying on intangibles like impeccable timing, unwavering transparency, a resilient team, collective expertise, and an ongoing readiness to respond to inquiries while sharing key performance indicators (KPIs). The intricate interplay of these elements defines the art of navigating the entrepreneurial landscape and securing venture capital. It’s the amalgamation of strategic insight and human dynamics that drives ventures towards enduring success.

Darío Villena
Feb 13 · 2024 Darío Villena Advisor

Felix Laumann (NeuralSpace): “Our goal is to become a world leader in language AI in Asia and Africa”

Felix Laumann (NeuralSpace): “Our goal is to become a world leader in language AI in Asia and Africa”

UK-based NeuralSpace debuted in 2021 with a powerful language AI model that can translate text and speech into over 100 languages and regional dialects with an emphasis on Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Translation accuracy, linguistic variety, and data privacy are the hallmarks of its platform.

Felix Laumann is the CEO of this startup based in King’s Cross, London. To date, the company has raised more than $3 million with the backing of GoHub Ventures.

 

Question: What would NeuralSpace’s pitch be like today if you were on stage at the most important event on the planet?

Answer: I honestly believe that nothing would change in my speech compared to the ones I gave at the outset. In the last couple of months, AI applied to language has attracted a lot of public and media attention, especially owing to LLMs (large language models such as OpenAI’s with ChatGPT). However, the number of sensitive tasks that call for in-depth understanding of language whether spoken or written is still huge, ranging from scrutinizing competitors based on their online presence to putting together a compelling marketing kit or disentangling a call between a customer and an agent in an attempt to optimize that communication.

Many of these tasks can be automated in part or in whole with the help of AI. Plus, much of the technological race in this field is anchored in using only English and other European languages, whereas NeuralSpace seeks to deliver highly accurate solutions for languages and regional dialects spoken in other parts of the world.

 

Q: What makes NeuralSpace different in a market with so many rivals?

A: Most AI tools work with European languages even though 90% of the world’s population speaks another native language. Our company was set up to redress this imbalance. We have developed the most robust and customizable technology regardless of the industry or use case to automatically translate from speech to text and to enhance the effectiveness of virtual assistants (chatbots, voicebots).

In addition to helping developers to craft their own software using NeuralSpace’s APIs, we also offer enterprise solutions in which we personalize our products. When it comes to complex enterprise solutions, we strive to fully understand the customer’s business problem before suggesting any solutions. For example, as explained in GoHub Ventures’ Tech Unpacked inaugural edition, oil giant Aramco uses our DocAI solution to analyze complex documents and extract qualitative content, a process previously done 100% manually.

 

Q: Let’s talk about NeuralSpace’s next milestones and where you see the company five years from now when the AI revolution will have fully spread its wings.

A: Our goal is to become the world’s leading provider of language AI in African and Asian languages and dialects. The potential fields of use of our technology are vast. In the short term, we are expanding the capabilities of our AI-driven enterprise solutions and a good example of this is our speech recognition tool, VoiceAI. We are also delivering a world-class development experience, enabling more professionals and organizations to harness the transformative power of language AI in their software applications.

Our long-term commitment is straightforward: to help all kinds of companies in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa to ramp up their productivity, efficiency, and cost savings, thereby putting them in a prime position to significantly enhance their performance.

 

Q: Let’s talk about the AI boom. Will there be room for everyone or will big tech firms verge on oligopoly with hegemonic solutions and/or buying out startups with disruptive proposals?

A: The market is so large that big tech firms and startups will rub shoulders. It is likely that all tools which can tap into the capabilities of artificial intelligence will leverage this technology in the future as companies need to stay competitive. The surge of innovation we have seen over the last 12 months is incredible.

In this scenario, startups have the agility and speed to make the most of technological breakthroughs and adapt to customer needs which often call for bespoke models or product adaptations. The big players can’t offer this level of customization.

 

Q: Turning to regulation, there are two opposing schools of thought: the more liberal led by people such as Marc Andreessen who advocate letting artificial intelligence develop with hardly any restrictions, and the more moderate players (Geoffrey Hilton, Sam Altman) who are pushing for clear limits.

A: The AI industry needs to evolve responsibly and transparently. Safeguarding security, privacy, and human rights must be a priority. Our team fully grasps this integrity requirement and applies it to every aspect of the process, from data collection and algorithm design to product rollout and customer interaction. In fact, my feeling is that the AI and machine learning community is more than willing to engage in a healthy regulatory discussion and work with society to strike a balance.

 

Q: Some compare the emergence of generative AI to the invention of the printing press or the automobile. Where is humanity heading as a result of this revolution?

A: There is no question that artificial intelligence will completely change the way businesses operate. More productivity means more growth. Automating tedious tasks also enables the employee to focus on more complex issues and feel more satisfied with their mission. At the same time, the company gets more out of its workforce. New jobs will also come along, including the position of head of AI strategy (a kind of CAI working hand in hand with the CEO). The conversation has shifted significantly over the last year: the question is no longer whether a company should use artificial intelligence. The question is how to leverage it to stand out from the competition.

Feb 05 · 2024 GoHub Ventures

Challenges and Contrasts for AI-powered Startups Between Open Source Models and ChatGPT

Challenges and Contrasts for AI-powered Startups Between Open Source Models and ChatGPT

In today’s tech-driven world, Venture Capital firms investing in startups can’t simply stick to funding as their primary -and only- value. Not even ‘smart money’, the term that applies to funding plus access to a pro network, is enough. In order to run the extra mile there has to be a full collaboration between investors, founders and boards. We call it ​​commitment: one of GoHub Ventures’ values expressed in our previous article ‘Anatomy of a Rebranding’.

So, in order to put our money where our mouth is, GoHub Ventures hosted its inaugural edition of Tech Unpacked, a series of events designed to explore cutting-edge technologies, foster networking and build key alliances.

 

Tech Unpacked #1: Summary

On a show conducted by Guillermo Flor (GoHub Ventures) under the headline of ‘Open Source AI vs ChatGPT: How to Build Privacy Aware AI Apps’, attendees heard expert insights from Iván Martínez (PrivateGPT) and Rory McElearney (Valencia Codes) about the considerations in data privacy when deciding whether to build or buy an AI-based solution. After listening to the experts, participants got down to work on a hands-on hackathon that elevated the experience into an interactive evening that ended with pizza for everyone.

To kickoff Tech Unpacked #1, several startups from GoHub Ventures’ portfolio introduced real cases of AI-powered solutions they’re currently serving to clients:

  • David Purón (Barbara) explained how Spanish multinational Acciona (a conglomerate dedicated to the development and management of infrastructure and renewable energy) has implemented AI to predict in real time the amount of chemicals their plants need for operations. Thanks to this, the company is more efficient when it comes to operational costs and also improves safety levels at their facilities.
  • Felix Laumann (NeuralSpace) detailed how oil giant Aramco uses their DocAI solution to analyze complex documents and extract qualitative content, a process previously done 100% manually.
  • Fernando Pérez (Aunoa) told how their AI Chatbots improve customer experience by automating interactions and conversations on WhatsApp, Facebook or a website.

 

Build or Buy an AI-based solution

Expert’s panel with Iván Martínez (PrivateGPT) and Rory McElearney (Valencia Codes) discussed the convenience of building or buying an AI-based solution. As in many cases, the answer is… it depends!

According to the invitees, one must think first about the problem they’re trying to solve. If the problem is core to business, building your own AI-based solution is a road you may want to explore…as long as you have the knowledge and legal aspects covered. However, if the problem isn’t core to your activity, you may want to take advantage of existing AI-based solutions rather than building your own.

When building your own AI-based solutions, infrastructure and privacy are another two aspects to take in consideration. First, you’ll need to host your model locally or cloud and this might get expensive so… you may want to think twice and follow the golden rule of ‘just build when it’s core’. Second, you become responsible for what data and how safely you store it… and legislation is different depending on where you’re based.

Existing AI-based solutions are perfect for try and error, since you can create magic in a few hours…as hackathon attendees proved. Teams of tech and non-tech profiles were formed on the fly and they just needed a couple hours to transform these ideas into MVPs:

  • Summarization solution for notes taken during working meetings.
  • Git commits message improver and tests code generator.
  • Psychologist assistant trained with psychology books.
  • Sales sentiment analysis using sales calls as input.
  • Marketing content generator using past posts.
  • User interface for PrivateGPT with add-ons like sessions, history, login and more.

At the current stage of AI’s development and adoption, the experts highlighted a few scenarios when AI is a perfect partner for companies:

  • Document Analysis & Summarization.
  • Customer Support.
  • Content Creation.
  • Business Intelligence (take better decisions with more data gathered with AI support).

 

Future of AI: super customization, fakes and jobs threat

Tech Unpacked is also about expressing views and forecasting what’s next, so attendees also had the chance to hear from experts about the future of AI.

Three industries where AI is going to have a massive impact, according to Iván Martínez (PrivateGPT) and Rory McElearney (Valencia Codes) are LegalTech, Fintech and HealthTech.

To understand what degree of disruption and how this can impact our lives, the experts explained a case within the Health sector. According to their opinion, we are walking into an era of super customization thanks to AI.

If you think of two patients today who have been diagnosed with the same illness, they’re probably getting a very similar treatment. However, they’re two very completely different persons. With AI’s penetration on the Health industry, the treatments that are similar today will tend to a higher level of customization.

Based on economic history, experts also agreed that manual low value work will go away while AI’s adoption increases, as it has happened through decades with any revolution whether it’s mechanical or technological.

Last but not least, experts also expressed their concerns about AI created content. According to their opinion, we’re not yet ready to distinguish real content from an AI created one. They consider this a threat that may affect from a simple domestic cybercrime to a massive fraud.

However, as the winners of Tech Unpacked hackathon showed, AI could be also super helpful for content creation. The group created a solution that produces content for marketing purposes (blog posts, shareables, etc.) by running AI models through previously published texts. A big help for marketers that today spend tons of time selecting and creating bullet points and catchy phrases for their audiences.

Who knows if soon they’ll become a new GoHub Ventures portfolio member!

Feb 01 · 2024 Cynthia Martínez Operations Manager