Last week we tried to find out if virtual reality could create a virtual world we could all escape to just by wearing a pair of glasses. With this weeks Imagine That Startup called Metaverse this is becoming (kind of) reality. But not with a pair of glasses but by using your phone. Metaverse is an app that allows people to create their own augmented reality experience straight from their phone.
VR? AR? And even MR
New technologies come with new buzzwords. It sounds pretty badass to use them in conversations and blog posts. But in the end no one seems to know what you’re talking about. So let’s find out what all those two-letter words are about.
VR = Virtual Reality
Virtual reality is the technology that takes you to a complete new (virtual) world often through a pair of goggles you put on. Through a stereoscopic lens a 3D image is created in the headset. The headset then tracks your movement of your head and then reflects these movements into the virtual world.
There is no relation with the “real” world as it aims to immerse the viewer into a world on its own and blocks all other stimulation out of the equation.
AR = Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality is a technology that overlays data on top of your current view of the world, without interrupting what you are looking at, it only ‘augments’ it. It does this by projecting data about what you are looking at, so you can use the combination of reality and artificial data projected on it for purposes like design, visual experiences and other ways that can benefit from this combination. The Microsoft Hololens is the best example of this
MR = Mixed Reality
This is what our Imagine That Startup Metaverse and games like Pokémon Go are all about. This technology is somewhere between AR & VR. It projects certain objects onto our reality to make them look like they are actually there. Like beaming a freshly designed ‘virtual’ vase onto a real dinner table. So we could say AR & MR are kind of the same with the sole difference that AR kind of makes our reality more useful, and MR just changes the reality by projecting certain things onto that reality.
Pokémon Go 2.0
So you would think Metaverse is some type of Pokémon Go clone that wants to ride on the hype and get money while doing so. Not really. Founder Dmitry Shapiro has other plans with Metaverse than chasing and catching little creatures around the city. He wants to give people the opportunity to create their own experiences without pointing them towards a certain direction of what the goal of the experience should be. Metaverse want to go further than just the gamification of an augmented reality.
As Dmitry pointed out: “Malls could be learning experiences for children,” he said, painting a picture of math problems lurking around every corner as part of a gigantic educational treasure hunt”. This way an augmented reality experience becomes a learning platform that allows users to augment the possibilities of a certain goal (being education, treasure hunts or workouts) by building another experience above our current reality. Metaverse could become a crowd sourced augmented reality building platform that merges the best of Minecraft and Pokémon Go.
Is the metaverse our next destination?
Metaverse already has done some experiments with their app. One of them was during this year’s Halloween called ‘Augemented Halloween’. It brought participants across the country on a quest to feed the great pumpkin and win $10,000 in cash prizes.Another one a scavenger hunt through San Diego, the first person to finish won $500. And the least you could say, is that it created some ‘buzz’. Find out in the video below.
Right now the use of the app is mostly games. Probably because this will create the biggest traction for the app and will gain users fast. But the true usability of the app is in creating experiences where we truly ‘augment’ our reality and add certain things that makes us more productive. Or that encourages us to do certain things like work out, do the dishes or do other boring tasks we don’t like. But it could also be taken to a whole new level. A mixture between reality and another universe: the metaverse.
When Mark Zuckerberg announced the deal of Facebook buying VR company Oculus, he gave an inside look in how he looks at the future of the different ‘R’ acronyms. He envisions a ‘world’ where you can hang out at a bar, go to school or have a conference call just by putting on ‘some goggles’. This of course would be the perfect world for Zuckerberg as this world is the perfect place to expose Facebook’s users to a 24/7 social world full of Facebook Ads, WhatsApp and Instagram.
The best of 2 worlds is often the consensus
So where are we going with this Augmented Reality building platform? Metaverse is on the right track with its application. Through its platform it creates a synergy between reality and what is put on that reality. Right now the sole use is games, but by looking into certain parts of our lives many other uses are possible. For example certain aspects that demand a certain incentive or in situation in which it is important to stress a certain aspect stronger than another. That brings us to, probably the most important implementation of what Metaverse is doing: politics and social engagement.
Last week, The Hill posted an article in which they gave their view on how virtual reality could be used to better present the problem politicians are charged with. By using a stronger experience like VR, politicians no longer get their information from files or statistics, but can truly see and feel what they are working on. People can put a housing project in its true environment to show politicians what it will do to a community. So politicians can better recognise what needs to be done to serve the need of the people they present. Creating a context like this to present your project has never been easier with an app like Metaverse. Everyone can now show their projects or their initiative in a way that it truly makes a connection with the world it would like to have an impact on.
It remains to be seen if VR can offer a better framework to make decisions. VR tend to trigger emotions, this is contradictory with the way in which people in Congress make decisions today.
In short: Metaverse
Pitch: Augmented reality for everyone
Stage: Post product release
On the interwebz:
In the Imagine That Startup series I cover a startup that is doing great work for the future of our society. Often by implementing new and/or disruptive technologies in a great and powerful way.
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