The Latest in Tech: Call AI Santa Claus This Holiday Season

Quantious Team
4 min readDec 22, 2023

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Emerging Tech Roundup — December 22

The Quantious team’s top picks for timely trending news in the tech world.

This week in tech: Kenya’s BlackRhino VR Launches AR Content Creation, Adobe Scraps $20 Billion Acquisition of Figma, Populous Reveals Plans for an eSports Center in Saudi Arabia, Researchers Extract World’s First Mental Images from Human Brain Activity Using AI, Startup Creates AI Santa to Facilitate Believable Voice Calls, PaintJet Builds Industrial Robots for Paint Jobs, and Kosmik Shares Visual Canvas with In-Built PDF Reader and Web Browser.

Kenya’s BlackRhino VR Launches AR Content Creation, Publication Platform

(Disrupt Africa, December 18)

Kenyan XR tech company BlackRhino VR has introduced MediAR, a user-friendly AR platform aimed at empowering content creators in Africa’s creative economy. The cloud-based AR editor and publishing platform utilizes drag-and-drop technology to simplify content creation. BlackRhino VR’s broader mission is to democratize XR technologies while also leveraging AR to enhance the tourism experience by providing immersive explorations of the continent’s culture, history, and wildlife.

Adobe Scraps $20 Billion Acquisition of Figma

(Wall Street Journal, December 18)

Adobe has decided to cancel its intended $20 billion acquisition of collaboration software company Figma. In a joint statement on Monday, Adobe and Figma announced the mutual termination of the cash-and-stock transaction, citing a lack of a clear regulatory approval path from the European Commission and the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority. The cancellation reflects the challenges in obtaining regulatory clearance for the deal and the companies’ acknowledgment of an uncertain approval process.

Populous Reveals Plans for an eSports Center in Saudi Arabia

(MSN, December 18)

Populous has unveiled plans for a groundbreaking eSports center in Saudi Arabia, featuring a 5,155-seat capacity and innovative design elements. The venue even plans to include a distinctive ‘digital chandelier’ suspended above the main seating auditorium. With a focus on creating an immersive experience, the eSports center incorporates haptic seating, world-class audio-visual capabilities, and carefully engineered sightlines, setting it apart as the world’s first esports district with breakout zones for gaming, a food court, and retail outlets.

World’s First Mental Images Extracted from Human Brain Activity Using AI

(Interesting Engineering, December 18)

Researchers have developed a “brain decoding” technology that utilizes AI to translate human brain activity into visible mental images of objects and landscapes. By exposing participants to a variety of images and using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to analyze brain signals, the researchers trained a generative AI to reconstruct both natural and artificial shapes imagined by human participants. The new technology marks a significant milestone in visualizing arbitrary mental imagery.

Startup Creates AI Santa, Using its Tech to Facilitate Believable Voice Calls for the Naughty and Nice

(Geek Wire, December 19)

Seattle-based startup Fixie has introduced HiSanta.ai, a web experience allowing users to engage in real-time AI voice calls with Santa Claus, Rudolph, Mrs. Claus, and other characters. Visitors can select a character, click the call button, and have conversations about holiday wish lists and more — all with responses delivered in real-time. The initiative serves as a technology demonstration for Fixie’s platform, designed to seamlessly integrate large language model technologies, including speech-to-text, language models like ChatGPT-3, and text-to-speech, to enable interactive and engaging voice interactions.

PaintJet is Building Big Industrial Robots for Big Industrial Paint Jobs

(Tech Crunch, December 20)

Nashville startup PaintJet is entering the construction industry with its Bravo robotic painter, resembling a mobile elevated work platform. The automated system, designed to handle industrial painting, integrates with heavy machinery and can control both the lift and the robotic painting system. With a recent $10 million Series A funding round led by Outsiders Fund, PaintJet aims to further develop and scale its robotic painting technology in the $2 trillion construction industry, addressing challenges such as labor shortages and safety concerns.

Meet Kosmik, a Visual Canvas with an In-Built PDF Reader and a Web Browser

(Tech Crunch, December 21)

French startup Kosmik offers a knowledge-capturing tool that provides an infinite canvas for users to seamlessly capture and organize text, images, videos, PDFs, links, and more. The platform features an IPFS-based architecture, ensuring peer-to-peer collaboration with data encryption, offline-first mode, and a spatial canvas-based user interface. Targeting designers, architects, consultants, and students, Kosmik eliminates the need for users to switch between windows or apps, providing a visual and comprehensive solution for organizing diverse media types and projects.

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