By Shanthen Jegatheesan
Ever watched the movie Ready Player One and wonder to yourself if someday that would become a reality?
Well guys, that someday is much closer than you think. In fact, it’s already here! Today, there are many constantly evolving metaverse platforms that you, the player, can jump into.
What exactly is the metaverse? To put it in simple terms, the metaverse is a computer-generated virtual reality (VR), which is kind of like those MMORPGs you used to play back in the day like Runescape, Ultima Online and World of Warcraft (or Minecraft and Fortnite for younger gamers out there).
But what makes the metaverse different from these games is that it is more immersive in the sense that instead of using a console or a PC, these games are played using VR headsets and motion detecting controllers like NINTENDO’s WII controller, which makes you feel like you’re in this make-believe digital world.
ALPHABET INC and META are some of the tech titans breathing life into these out-of-this-world virtual platforms. No word yet as to whether a life-changing prize is hidden in the deep recesses of any of these metaverse platforms.
Ready to enter the metaverse? Let’s see some of the cool inventions that will level up your metaverse experience!
1. Virtual Reality Headset
Metaverse headsets enable users to enter massive virtual worlds where they can do more than just hit tiny digital critters to get random digital objects. They enable users to experience 3D sounds and a 360-degree field of view. Ever wonder how these headsets know when you are looking upwards and display the virtual sky instead of the digital grass you are standing on?
Technologies such as the one disclosed here in US 10,078,218 B2 enhance the metaverse experience by enabling the right images to be displayed based on the orientation of the VR headset. US 10,078,218 B2 discloses a VR headset which has a first camera and a second camera capturing image data to map the environment in which the headset is used. They capture images of the environment around a user and a processor creates a 3D model of the environment using the captured images. Based on this 3D model, the headset is able to tell where a user is looking so that the screens in the headset display the corresponding view when the user tilts his/her head up or down or does a pirouette.
2. Haptic Gloves
In Ready Player One, the main character Wade starts off with a basic glove controller before moving on to a state-of-the-art feedback suit that allows him to experience knocks to his sensitive bits. Not limited to entertainment uses, real-world haptic feedback gloves allow users to experience realistic touch and interactions through advanced tactile feedback. When activated, the haptic devices within the gloves create resistance such that the user feels like he/she is holding or touching an actual object.
US 2021/0373668 A1 discloses a haptic glove which has number of sensors, an inflatable haptic feedback device and a feedback control system. The glove also includes a flexible battery to power the sensors and a pump which pumps air to the inflatable haptic feedback device. The sensors detect hand motion/position while the pump and inflatable haptic feedback device helps mimic an object that is held in the virtual space.
Part of the fun of having a metaverse avatar is the ability to alter the appearance of the avatar to reflect your wonderful personality. Of course, we all know that virtual costumes can’t manifest in the real world so if you tried to wear them you’d be like the emperor in The Emperor’s New Clothes. Or is that truly the case?
Cryptokicks are digital sneakers designed by virtual sneaker designer RTFKT. They look really cool and you can purchase the Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) associated with the sneakers. Some of the digital sneakers have a physical version, so you not only do you get to wear your sneakers in the digital world, you can also do so IRL.
US 10,505,726 B1 discloses a system and method for generating an NFT that is tied to the ownership of a digital or a physical pair of sneakers. The patent also discloses fun things you can do with your digital sneakers, like collaborating with another sneaker NFT owner to create a new “offspring” sneaker that inherits the traits of the “parent” sneakers.
These examples give us a glimpse of the exciting technologies relating to the metaverse that have already become a reality. It goes without saying that the who’s who in tech are in a race to patent all these awesome technologies.
According to a report by Nikkei Asia released on 27 November 2022, the top owners of metaverse patents include tech giants such as LG ELECTRONICS, SAMSUNG, META, SONY, MICROSOFT, INTEL, HUAWEI and APPLE. Since 2016, more than 75% of patent applications related to the metaverse, VR, and augmented reality (AR) were filed by companies in the US and South Korea. US-based companies may have filed 57% of these applications, but Asian companies are hot on their heels.
A recent article by Fintech Hong Kong explains the developments made in South Korea, mainly in relation to the Metaverse platform “ZEPETO”.
ZEPETO has attracted 340 million users since it launched in 2018 and is recording about 15 million to 20 million active monthly users, making it the largest metaverse platform in Asia. The article also explains that China’s search giant Baidu has launched a metaverse service called XI RANG which aims to provide a platform to enable metaverse builders.
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the developments that are currently happening in the metaverse. One can only imagine what exciting developments await us in the distant future.
It is time to enter the metaverse.
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