Above: Aech’s Basement in Ready Player One.. Image Credit: Sansar
Verses has launched a protocol for virtual and augmented reality to help people establish ownership of virtual real estate, 3D space, and other goods in the virtual world. The company likes to refer to this idea of owning things within the virtual world as Web 3.0.
Just as websites have a proprietary address, Verses is using blockchain technology to identify specific 3D spaces in augmented reality. That allows people to own parts of the virtual world, or Metaverse, if you will. And Los Angeles-based Verses has set up the nonprofit Verses Foundation to serve as arbiter for the protocol that will delineate this “spatial web.”
The Verses Spatial Web Protocol is a universal and open standard for the next generation of the web that exists in AR or VR, connecting people, places, things, and currencies into a single digital network.
“Every 15 years or so, you get a change to the technology interface, like from mainframes to desktops to laptops or from Facebook or Apple to Magic Leap and augmented reality and virtual reality,” said Gabriel Rene, executive director of Verses, in an interview with VentureBeat. “The big problem we identified is that web protocols were designed to link pages together. To do AR/VR, there’s no way to move virtual things across the real world. There’s no address.”
He added, “We create a geospatial internet protocol address that works inside virtual worlds. So you can move between virtual worlds and move virtual assets across real space. We see this as the basis for Web 3.0.”
The protocol lets people apply to augmented reality the same ownership principles that we have in the physical world, such as owning the land on which a house is built or owning a website.
It sets up ideas such as property rights, monetization, geolocation, and tradability of digital goods. For instance, if I own a property in the real world, and I can see the virtual space in my home using augmented reality glasses, then I should make sure that I own the augmented reality space in my home. I don’t, for instance, want someone else to set up their own property inside my house and then draw people to the location by advertising it as a virtual night club. I think this sets up some fascinating discussions about the kinds of rights physical property owners should have in cyberspace.
Verses wants to create a new economy for tradable and transportable digitized assets that combines the virtual with the physical, allowing the digital world to leap off the screen with interactions never before possible. With the integration of blockchain technology, a new generation of secure digital trade and immersive experiences becomes possible.
Rene believes that companies will be able to create interconnected game worlds and virtual worlds, establishing a transactional economy like the Oasis, the virtual universe of the novel and movie Ready Player One.
“It’s more like portals from one world to another. Once you have domain, with a link, you can port between the places,” Rene said. “You can think of [it as a] real world for geospatial augmented interaction. There may be an augmented reality art gallery moving from city to city. I could transfer something to my home and my wall and I could restrict who could see it.”
Above: Gabriel Rene is executive director of Verses. Image Credit: Verses
Verses has sold $6 million worth of tokens to various investors, including Blockchain Industries, Decentra, and other parties, and the company plans to raise additional capital via its private token sale from the international community.
Verses will allow partners to develop on its protocol. It has integrations with the Unity and Unreal game engines, which enable more than 80 percent of their millions of active developers around the world to develop spatial decentralized applications for entertainment, shopping, enterprise, government, health care, and other industries.
“The current web lets us as users move between pages,” Rene said. “With Verses, every building on the planet becomes a spaces domain. A 3D space. Smart contracts and artificial intelligence let you create a programmable space for each millimeter of the planet. Each space is a channel. The content in a kindergarten is permission for what is allowed inside a school. The rule set can be dynamic. We have re-created web protocols for spatial interaction.”
This is reminiscent of the World Wide Web consortium that sets web protocols, such as hypertext transfer protocol, or http.
Verses is set up as a nonprofit. The Verses technology works as an open standard, establishing a universal protocol that powers its key feature set for virtual assets across a multitude of applications. This includes use cases such as virtual commerce, interconnected virtual reality spaces, smart city infrastructure, and secure holographic telecom.
“We have assembled a world-class team of staff and advisors from companies like Deloitte, Apple, Samsung, Google, Microsoft, Magic Leap, and more to create a safer, smarter, and more immersive new era of the web — ‘The Spatial Web’,” said Rene. “The next generation of augmented and virtual reality can now include authenticated location data, real-time mapping, and physical asset tracking between specific locations. This technology powers a new era of fully interconnected and immersive interactive experiences that speak to consumers’ moods and thoughts.”
Verses provides full interoperability, allowing users to share common VR and AR experiences across all types of devices, as well as trading virtual objects between locations. The protocol will be compatible with more than 2 billion connected mobile devices by 2020. The first-of-its-kind technology establishes a new foundation for developers and creators that will fundamentally change how AR and VR are used by a wide variety of industries, Rene said.
“Verses is the sandbox for the next generation of entrepreneurs that want to solve global issues [and] create new worlds and digital solutions to real-world problems,” said Jay Samit, independent vice chair at Deloitte Digital and advisor to Verses, in a statement. “By overlaying the blockchain on the physical world, you can go to a location and store digital objects there that are known to you as being official, real, and allowed to be there. This new protocol creates order out of what otherwise would have been chaos.”
The implications are enormous. If you rent an apartment from someone, you will need legal clarity on the ownership of the virtual space where the apartment rests. On the other hand, with many different virtual worlds, it could be that 100 different virtual spaces could exist in the area of a physical apartment.
Rene said there is an enormous opportunity to make the global supply chain more precise, since you can use the AR space to identify exactly where a physical object is. There are also opportunities for location-based games, such as Pokémon Go.
Verses is launching today at the Blockchain Futurist Expo, where it will showcase implementations of its technology in a stage show that features holographic avatars alongside augmented and immersive virtual reality experiences unlike anything ever showcased to the public. These demonstrations will illustrate the company’s vision to empower content creators, game developers, brands, marketers, and artists to engage with companies, audiences, and consumers within a new world.
The company makes it possible for developers to turn any location into a smart space and any product into a smart asset and to enable cryptocurrency transactions across the real and virtual worlds.
It’s a big effort. The company currently has 35 staff and 15 partners. Among its hires are former employees of ICANN, the internet’s governing body. And there are roughly 1 trillion cubic kilometers of space that Verses will have to cover on Earth.
Prior to Verses, the 44-year-old Rene spent over 25 years as technology entrepreneur, researcher, and media and music producer.