While many believe that the metaverse will exist exclusively in the virtual domain, the more likely outcome is that it will bleed into our everyday lives through the power of augmented reality (AR), making digital content omnipresent around us in a “mixed reality” setting.
That’s exactly the promise of technologies like Apple’s upcoming mixed-reality headset, which is widely rumored to launch on Monday at the annual WWDC conference.
Apple has a knack for taking emerging technologies and making them polished and accessible enough for the masses, and its headset could do much the same for AR. Such platforms will be a key catalyst that amplifies the metaverse and blockchain-powered gaming via novel experiences integrated into everyday life.
Apple and the Metaverse: Everything We Know So Far
From sporting events and shopping centers to restaurants and entertainment venues, mixed reality introduces an interactive element that blends IRL (in real life) and IVL (in virtual life). Here are the key opportunities I see ahead, along with what the continual development of AR brings to the metaverse—and why it is such an exciting shift across all interactive media.
AR can overlay virtual items in the real world, which creates a new surface for gaming engagement. For example, a branded game could require a user to visit a store to complete a specific quest via AR avatar, leading to a potential purchase of the store’s goods—and potentially earning them additional experience points for in-game benefits, too.
Display size will have a major impact on both overall adoption and individual functionality, however, and device makers will have to find the right balance between immersion and comfort. They’ll also need to ensure comparability across devices, so that mobile users are able to participate alongside headset wearers.
New social interactions
Social connections on digital channels can now bridge into the real world, as virtual avatars can be placed IRL for interactions that move seamlessly across channels, including metaverse, social media, and gaming platforms. For example, instead of viewing your friend during a conversation, you could chat with an avatar that is overlaid on top of their body through AR.
An early form of this is already occurring with some early AR adopters using the technology to appear as avatars in virtual meetings. When it comes to playing a mixed reality game, avatars can be the key interaction points for players interacting with each other in both IRL and IVL.
And it’s not just about the device itself, but the fact that it adds a “heads up” social layer. As we interact with each other in an augmented virtual world layer, we will discover intriguing new ways to create and communicate.
Accelerating user-generated content
Apple’s move will enable the creation of new immersive experiences that bring us closer to the metaverse, enabling new possibilities for creators.
And thanks to generative AI tools, creators can build immersive worlds without having to code dozens of items by hand, thus accelerating the timeline from concept to creation. This will unleash a new wave of creativity in how games can exist in mixed reality, empowering creators to dream up exciting new experiences.
For example, a creator could quickly include AR components with an upcoming avatar drop that adds an element of interactivity for users. Or a mixed reality game could react in real-time, responding to relevant inputs to populate the game with new items and elements.
Digital flexes go IRL
As true digital ownership emerges in the real world, there will be innovation in interactivity, creativity, and utility. With AR, virtual assets can now be flexed, leveraged, and used in the real world. In this new mixed reality, avatars can be used in a variety of ways, creating fresh utility for those assets.
Imagine earning a discount at a store for owning a specific avatar, and upon proving ownership, being prompted to experience an AR music video that interacts with your own avatar—or even features the avatar as the main character in the video itself. The interactive intersection of avatars, digital ownership, and mixed reality will yield plenty of interesting opportunities.
Immersive multiplayer experiences
Multiplayer experiences take on new meaning with AR, as gamers in the metaverse can interact with players in the real world, all in real time. This will redefine interactions between ourselves and others, across both virtual and real worlds, enabling fun new ways to play.
This elevated multiplayer experience has applications across gaming, education, and even social networking. For example, a tabletop racing game could include users who are in the metaverse and IRL, so that they are racing each other seamlessly—regardless of which medium they choose. These experiences will help us all connect with others in new and innovative ways.
Neal Stephenson’s Lamina1 Is Fighting for an Open Metaverse
AR brings power to the metaverse
AR will make digital content more omnipresent around us, blurring the lines between virtual and real in a seamless fashion. Just as Pokémon Go introduced the world to the fun of AR gaming, entertainment will continue to evolve across realities, building gamified experiences that bridge worlds.
It’s an extraordinary technology that has the potential to elevate the gaming and metaverse experience, just as it augments our everyday life with new touchpoints. And as the technology continues to develop, we can expect to see even more innovative and immersive gaming experiences emerge. Just don’t look away, because you might miss what’s next.
Read the full article here