The Metaverse Start (Part#1): Mixed Reality and Gamification of Everything by Sidhartha Sharma

Augmented reality is more important than what many people think. Augmented reality is going to be the primary platform for future work, industrial internet, and entertainment. As AR/VR/MR technology hardware and 5G evolves, all the digital identities and locations will further evolve as digital avatars or digital twins.

Physical reality merged into screen-based digital reality over the last few decades. The next few decades will be about digital reality evolving into mixed reality. Touch, speech, vision, and gestures will again be the primary way we interact with mixed reality. The best technologies make themselves invisible by adapting themselves to the human senses.

Where are We Now?

  1. Sixth sense technology: Most of us remember seeing a TED video on the potential of sixth sense technology. Sixth Sense is a human-gesture-based wearable system developed at MIT Media Lab by Steve Mann in the 1990s. The technology was further developed by Pranav Mistry (also at MIT Media Lab). In 2009, the MIT team developed hardware and software for both head-worn and neck-worn versions of it. The technology became very famous due to Pranav’s Ted talk that went viral. Pranav Mistry is now the President and CEO of Samsung STAR Labs since October 2019 and was involved in the Samsung Galaxy Gear launch and Project Beyond. The wearable's hardware was clumsy-looking and lacked aesthetic sense; thus, they did not make it to the mainstream consumer tech space. However, the technology of mixed reality is authentic and here to stay.

2. Mixed reality in gaming and entertainment: Pokémon Go is an augmented reality (AR) mobile game developed in 2016 by Niantic and The Pokémon Company for mobile and tablet devices. It uses the mobile device GPS and camera to identify, locate, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, known as Pokémon, which appear as if they are in the game player’s real-world location. It was one of the most downloaded and profitable mobile apps in 2016. It was downloaded more than half a billion times globally by the end of 2016. Pokemon Go is rightfully responsible for promoting physical activity, popularizing location-based and AR technology, and making local businesses grow by increasing customer foot-fall. By early 2019, the Pokemon has crossed the billion global downloads mark and grossed over $3 billion in revenue. The video game also had over 147 million monthly active users as of May 2018. While it had few technical and safety issues, but it turned out to be more effective than numerous fitness apps that motivate people to walk around. There are many applications in the entertainment industry, too, for augmented reality.

3. AR/VRenabledGlasses: After smartwatches, and ear pods' success, glass is the next frontier to be conquered in wearable tech. Google Glass was created by Google X, the community within Google that undertakes technological advancements such as driverless cars. The Google Glass prototype looks like standard eyeglasses with the lens replaced by a head-up display. In mid-2011, Google built a bulky prototype that weighed 8 pounds; but by 2013, they were lighter than the average pair of sunglasses. Google Glass has already been used by Dr. Ned Sahin to enable children with autism to learn social skills. In May 2019, Google announced the Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2. Google also made public a partnership with Smith Optics to develop Glass-compatible safety frames. Microsoft HoloLens is also AR, cloud, and IoT-enabled glasses with widespread industrial application. The glasses are yet to emerge as a mainstream consumer gadget and are expected to pick up once 5G connectivity exists. A fashionable version is available to make them substitute the sunglasses or the reading glasses.

4. Online shopping, procurement: Augmented reality has significant implications for e-commerce. Imagine an experience where you or your AR avatar can try the clothes on a website screen. Sample designs can be tested via AR/VR platforms rather than traveling to the site.

In the next post, I will write about where the ball is going, Rayban Facebook stories, and much more…

Best regards,

Sidhartha Sharma (views are personal)

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