Here we’ll be talking about the future of the Internet and something that Avi Bar-Zeev ( a pioneer in augmented reality/VR for decades) feels is here to stay.
The Metaverse and AR (augmented reality).
The term Metaverse has suddenly gotten onto peoples’ radar in October 2021 when Facebook suddenly announced their name change to Meta and apparently their corporate direction as well.
Suddenly we find out that about a half dozen of the top tech companies in the world are also entering this space and are using words like Metaverse, augmented reality, virtual reality and block chain and more!
So what is it all about and why are people also talking about digital currencies, NFT (non fungible tokens) and block chain at the same time as they talk about the metaverse.
Well, in this section and in our other upcoming new webpage, we’ll be covering all this information because a new economy is about to explode in interest and excitement, as people start (they have been doing it for 15+ years with the Second life vr website)…to make and sell their own digital creations (avatars, property in the virtual space, headsets) and the software associated with all of it.
The big tech players who are the ones to watch and have announced massive (in some cases billion) dollar investments are:
-Facebook (new name Meta)
In many cases its about these companies making and selling VR or AR headsets that you put on your head and then see artificial objects in front of you that you can manipulate or display for practical reasons or for simply playing online games.
Now lets quickly list some of the planned use categories for this technology:
- business meetings
The practical uses would be to allow business users or your average person to have Zoom like conversations but feel like you are in the same room as you see each other in an artificial way and are able to virtually hand objects back and forth to each other.
Other users would be that we could enter a virtual grocery store to buy our food or attend a concert or buy art in a virtual augmented reality museum.
There is a great possiblity that things can go badly with this idea and a great possibility that they can go well.
One of the pioneers who has recently closed down his version of the business due to funding problems after about 7 years is a tech visionary named Meron Gribetz.
His business operated for several years and at its peak had about 100 employees but has recently been closed and reopened under new management and a new owner with a new focus and a similar name. Its website is www.Metavision.com
Here is Meron Gribetz enthusiastically explaining his “augmented headset” technology before he left the company at a Ted talk video on Youtube in 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9ZOpQzjukY
Now, most people are confused about how to explain the metaverse or augmented realities and what will just be the “new” internet.
It isn’t just about the headset. Metas headsets or Meta 2 visor sold for about $900 and the Microsoft Hololens headset was about $3,500 so they weren’t affordable for everyone at the time but prices are always coming down. Apple had their own Apple glasses for a lot less money but they never caught on.
Other players in the headset and AR area are Magic Leap, Nreal, Mad Gaze, Mira with newer ones with names like TiltFive, Looking Glass and Campfire.
Some suggest that up until the pandemic a few years ago, that people felt ridiculous wearing something on their head or face but now with the ever present face mask being worn, perhaps the idea of wearing a headset is much more accepting.
But again, AR is not all about headsets because you can see and create AR Youtube videos with augmented reality using free software.
Here is an example where an elephant can appear in your videos and you can act like you are touching it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05mWltJ1M8Q
Most tech observers compare what AR and VR is going to be, to the vision explored in the book by famous future author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 book “Snowcrash”.
Avi Bar-Zeev, a major player for decades in all things VR, insists that we must stop using this comparison because the future will not be as dsytopian/bad and it will just be the internet evolving into what will be the way things were meant to be. Nothing to see here folks. Its all good.
Now, the challenge is in explaining why we need it and how many people will need to wear headsets or special eyeglasses and if there will be more to it than that.
We have seen headsets come and go and we had Apple make some special glasses around 5 years ago that never did catch on.
So it won’t be just about headsets because apparently the average person didn’t like the idea so the big players are insisting that headsets, at least will have their place in niche markets like architecture/building sites, medical facilities and research and business/retail.
For now we have had a handful of AR VR websites operating for 5 or more years where users choose an avatar(cartoonish representation of themselves used in vr worlds) and walk around playing games and buying digital assets and seeing digital stores and concerts.
In fact two major concerts were held in one of the most popular AR VR worlds called Centraland in which millions of people viewed them and multi millions of dollars was made.
The popular rapper Travis Scot held a huge concert online where he sang in a digital version of himself and was a trememdous success earning around $20 million for the artist or label.
So we must know that Second Life has operated as a virtual world and virtual gamers world since 2003.
It was started by tech pioneer Phillip Rosedale (Linden) and people built houses and businesses and played games and used a currency called Linden dollars.
Now we have a handful of similar websites that are allowing users to sell digital assets like digital avatars and houses and weapons and tools that can be used in the virtual webspace
If you go to these sites you will pay for things using some version of crypto currency like Etherium and there will be much talk about selling content and how it is all controlled with the blockchain.
So the top handful of websites that are running some of these online communities of AR/VR etc are:
There are sites which have games like Fortnite played and others that are experimenting with online gambling and the hugely popular horseracing which has always seemed to be biggest among the Asian community around the world.
The gaming industry has always been a multi billion dollar industry and this is set to grow exponentially with new technology and as more people stay home to do their work and play.
So be ready to learn a whole new vocabulary with words like cyber currency and block chains, voxels, DAO, tokens, NFT, immersive technology, AR, VR, spatial computing.
Here are some of the players in the AR VR scene in 2021.
Apple – Tim Cook. They have released the Iphone x with front facing cameras with depth sensors and now also have rear facing cameras to take advantage of the AR possibilities. They use the LIDAR technology for depth sensing (something that Elon Musk has refused for his self driving cars).
Epic Games- Tim Sweeney has the game Fortnite with over 300 million users in the world
Snap Evan Speigel has products like Lens Studio, Anime lens, Local Lens
Facebook Oculus with Andrew Bosworth is working with VR virtual backgrounds. the title Quest is big
Zoom Eric Yuan has broadcast AR with virtual backgrounds and integrated tools like snap and Nextech
TikTok – Zhang Yiming