Version 38.0

Written & Compiled by Macklin Andrick, GPJ Sr. Creative Technologist

GPJ’s Experience Technology practice provides a view into the creative future through the latest technological shifts and how they might benefit your next experience. Strap in as we zoom through the latest tech marvels and digital delights!

Boston Dynamics electrifies the robotics scene with their new Atlas bot. Microsoft’s VASA-1 brings portraits to life with real-time, jaw-dropping talking faces. And in shopping news, Best Buy’s new Envision app lets you place 3D tech products right in your living room using Apple Vision Pro. It’s a whirlwind of innovation, so hold tight and keep your tech appetites ready!

Boston Dynamics’ Atlas humanoid robot goes electric

Boston Dynamics has introduced a new electric version of its Atlas humanoid robot, marking a significant transition from the previous hydraulic models. This new iteration features advanced electric actuators allowing for smoother, more natural movements and a quieter operation compared to its predecessors. The redesigned Atlas sports a slimmer, more refined aesthetic, aligning with designs like Agility’s Digit and Apptronik’s Apollo, and moves away from the industrial appearance of earlier versions. Designed to be more user-friendly and less imposing, the robot incorporates simplified hands with fewer fingers and a round head that includes a display screen, enhancing interaction capabilities. Boston Dynamics plans to begin pilot testing with partner Hyundai next year, focusing on practical applications in existing workflows rather than creating a general-purpose platform. The electric Atlas is part of a broader trend towards integrating advanced robotics into daily operations, promising significant improvements in efficiency and functionality.

Microsoft VASA-1: Lifelike Audio-Driven Talking Faces Generated in Real Time

VASA is a groundbreaking framework designed to generate hyper-realistic talking face videos from a single portrait photo and speech audio, achieving remarkable synchronization of lip movements and audio, along with natural facial expressions and head motions. Dubbed VASA-1, this model operates in real-time, producing videos at high resolutions and frame rates, ideal for creating lifelike virtual avatars for various applications. The technology incorporates a sophisticated facial dynamics model and a disentangled face latent space that allows for editing of specific attributes such as gaze direction, head distance, and emotional expressions. While the potential for misuse exists, the developers emphasize their commitment to responsible AI practices and highlight the positive possibilities of their technology in fields like education, accessibility and therapeutic support.

Best Buy Launches Apple Vision Pro App for Previewing Tech Products

Best Buy has launched a new app called “Envision” for the Apple Vision Pro headset, aimed at enhancing the shopping experience for tech products. The app allows users to visualize how various products, such as TVs, appliances, computers, and fitness equipment, would look and fit in their own homes using 3D models. This immersive tool provides customers with the ability to view products from multiple angles, assess the space they occupy, and access product ratings and pricing. Additionally, users can directly purchase items through the app, which connects to the Best Buy website via Safari on the Vision Pro. The Envision app is available for free on the Vision Pro App Store.

AI video is heading to Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe is set to revolutionize video editing with an upcoming AI-enhanced version of Premiere Pro, featuring advanced AI tools for content creation. This new version will include “Generative Fill” technology, which allows editors to extend scenes beyond their original frames and seamlessly remove or replace elements across multiple frames. Additionally, Adobe is integrating its Firefly AI for text-to-video generation, enabling users to create video clips from textual prompts. This feature will be compatible with third-party AI video tools like Sora from OpenAI and Runway’s AI video, which can be used just like standard footage within projects. Adobe plans to ensure transparency by marking AI-generated content with a “Content Credentials” logo in the file’s metadata. Enhanced AI capabilities will also improve audio editing, making it easier to identify and manipulate audio clips.

Third-party iPhone app store AltStore PAL is now live in Europe

AltStore PAL, a third-party iOS app store, is now available in the European Union, enabled by Apple’s adherence to the Digital Markets Act (DMA). Priced at €1.50 annually (plus tax), the store launches with notable apps such as Delta, a versatile Nintendo emulator, and Clip, a clipboard manager not permitted on Apple’s App Store. This marketplace allows for a broader range of app functionalities, especially those typically restricted by Apple, like background clipboard management. Delta and Clip symbolize the kinds of innovative software that can now reach iPhone users directly, bypassing traditional App Store constraints. This move also supports developer monetization through platforms like Patreon, offering a new model of app distribution and funding in the EU.

TikTok Notes starts rolling out as a new rival to Instagram

TikTok is launching a new photo-sharing app called TikTok Notes, positioning it as a competitor to Instagram. Currently available for limited testing in Australia and Canada, the app allows users to add headlines to images, a feature not offered by Instagram. While TikTok Notes bears similarities to Instagram, it also incorporates unique elements like a Pinterest-style homepage layout. This move marks a shift in strategy as TikTok, often mimicked by other platforms like Instagram, begins to “copy back.” Details on a wider release, including to the U.S., remain undisclosed.

More Cool Stuff We Found

Missed a Creative Tech Byte? Find all previous versions here.