Disney's VR treadmill, OpenAI fixes 'lazy' GPT-4, and Apple rolls out stolen device protection | TechCrunch


Hey, folks, and welcome to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s regular newsletter covering notable happenings in tech over the past few days.

On the agenda for this edition is Disney’s innovative VR treadmill, OpenAI fixing its “lazy” AI and MIT’s high-capacity, fast-charging organic battery tech. We also cover Apple’s new stolen device protection feature, AI startup Rabbit’s nifty hardware and app makers debating launching apps tailor-made for Apple’s Vision Pro headset.

There’s a decent chunk of news to recap this week, so let’s get to it. But first, a reminder to sign up here to receive WiR in your inbox every Saturday if you haven’t already done so.

News

Disney’s VR treadmill: Disney has developed a treadmill-like system for VR composed of hundreds of small, round “tiles” that look to be about the size of a silver dollar, Brian writes. Each serve as a kind of mini, omnidirectional treadmill.

OpenAI fixes GPT-4: OpenAI dropped prices on a number of AI models this week as it rolled out a fix for its “lazy” GPT-4 models that refused to work — and launched new models for specific use cases.

Apple’s new device protection: Romain writes about Apple’s new stolen device protection feature, which, when turned on, requires Face ID or Touch ID biometric authentication for some actions, like accessing stored passwords and credit cards.

Vision Pro apps a maybe: After Netflix said it wouldn’t release a dedicated app for the Apple Vision Pro, other app makers, including YouTube, are following in its footsteps. The trend doesn’t bode well, necessarily.

Analysis

Rabbit’s r1: AI startup Rabbit is developing what Darrell believes is a better vision of the future than the Apple Vision Pro. The r1 can purportedly do what a typical smartphone can do — but using generative AI and natural language.

Podcasts

On Equity, the crew talked about Plural VC announcing a new fund, Fantuan teaming up with Chowbus, Vroom leaving the car-selling business and what’s happening over at Brex.

Meanwhile, Found featured Ben Goodwin, the co-founder and CEO of Olipop, the gut-healthy soda brand that amassed $200 million in gross sales just five years after its launch.

And Chain Reaction had Anatoly Yakovenko, co-founder of Solana Labs, on the pod. Solana aims to help grow the ecosystem for the layer-1 blockchain Solana.

TechCrunch+

TC+ subscribers get access to in-depth commentary, analysis and surveys — which you know if you’re already a subscriber. If you’re not, consider signing up. Here are a few highlights from this week:

The tech layoff surge: Alex and Anna write about the surge in staff cuts at tech startups in recent weeks, which flipped the script on expectations for this year.

HPE’s deal for Juniper: Ron and Alex weigh in on HPE’s decision to buy Juniper Networks a few weeks back for $14 billion. The gist is, the companies think the numbers look pretty good — and they really do match up well (so long as HPE doesn’t mess it up).

Fintech, down but not out: Fintech has been in the dumps for a while now, and with companies like Brex once again cutting staff as they try to rein in costs, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the market for fintech products is struggling. But that isn’t necessarily the case, Alex and Anna write.

Bonus round

Lamborghini licenses MIT battery tech: Writing for TechCrunch+, Tim reports that Lamborghini has licensed new battery tech from MIT that could overcome the limitations of the lithium-ion batteries in wide use today.


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