Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, has filed patents to realize its vision of the metaverse.
The company has been granted hundreds of patents over the past four months aimed at increasing the realism of its planned interactive virtual world, according to a review by Insider. New technologies could allow a user’s avatar to pick up and drop objects, for example, or wear clothes that crease when they move. As Insider notes, there’s no guarantee the company will develop the new products, but they may be a good indication of its strategy.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the Metaverse will be mainstream in five to 10 years. However, as experts tell Insider, virtual and augmented reality presents many challenges: uncomfortable headgear, a lack of things to actually do in the virtual world, and technology that isn’t advancing fast enough. But Meta – who has been a long-time VR advocate – seems determined, despite concerns from privacy advocates about the project.
“This is the future I want and I’m going to push for it,” Zuckerberg said in October at the opening of Connect 2021, a VR/AR conference. Here are four things the future might allow you to do.
Several patents show that the company wants people to be able to realistically interact with objects in the metaverse, which would render in real time. The company also appears to want to allow people to throw, pinch, or otherwise engage with objects that exist in the metaverse, a feature called “gesture-based streaming and virtual content manipulation.” Another patented technology would allow users to bring an actual object into the metaverse. Imagine, for example, making a Zoom call with your laptop, while remaining in the virtual world with your colleagues.
One patent is for “generating precise, realistic clothing” that wrinkles as your avatar moves, with sensors that detect body movement to do so. Another is designed to create “avatar fidelity and personalization,” which suggests metaverse avatars might closely resemble their real-life counterparts.
One patent focuses on something called “viewer images”. This would allow you to invite someone to share your views on something, like a live concert, even if they’re not there in person. Combine that with “student steering”, which would track your eye movements and use them to guide you through the virtual world, and “notification triggers” – notifications you can get rid of them just by looking at them – and your eyes have a lot of power in the metaverse.
As the Insider article notes, getting into the metaverse may require sharing even more personal data than you currently do. The new patents are designed to track everything from your eyes to your body movements, all the data that Meta would then have access to. There were no consumer security or privacy patents in this batch, according to the review.
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