VERSES is Building The Web of The Future
Every company is in the process of understanding how technologies like augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies will affect their industry. It can be intimidating and even discomforting to consider the consequences of using machines to make decisions, what interacting with holograms instead of banner ads may entail, or how user data and privacy norms may change. But if there’s an industry that should be comfortable with this potential shift, it’s the marketing industry.
Making decisions based on data isn’t a new concept. It’s long been at the core of any successful marketing strategy or campaign, including at my own agency. So how can digital agencies use their data literacy to take full advantage of AR, VR, AI, Blockchain and other Web 3.0 technologies? And perhaps more importantly, how can digital agencies use these technologies to explore how to improve agency culture and even inspire innovation across the Industry?
I recently sat down with Gabriel Rene and his co-founder Dan Mapes to get a better understanding of what the future of the web is going to look like and when the sci-fi future that we have been promised is arriving. Their new organization Verses has designed a new version of the web, adding a whole new dimension to it; creating a kind of third generation “3D” Internet using the Blockchain and it just may end up being bigger than the world wide web. They call it the Spatial Web.
How did you get started?
We began with Cyberlab, an advanced research and development hub that we started in the 90s which has done a lot of pioneering development work for many Fortune 500 companies like Intel and Apple and various government agencies. Over the years, Cyberlab created a number of breakthrough products and services that were either licensed, sold or spun-off into separate companies, we earned our entrepreneurial “operator” chops along the way. We created the database for the Human Genome Project for example.
In the early 2000’s we created a new method of laser scanning people for computer games, creating realistic avatars of real people. That put us into the heart of gaming and we began experimenting with digital humans in VR. This technology has advanced to the point that it is nearly indistinguishable from photos of real people. We have always been developing in 3D for Web, Games or Virtual Reality and exploring Artificial Intelligence for programming and realized very early that they were going to combine in the future to create an amazing array of new services for society. We knew that these spatial technologies would radically alter the concept of “browsing the web” and be far closer to exploring the world.
The Blockchain provided a missing ingredient, it granted the ability to make virtual things “real” by giving them a kind of proof of existence backed by an immutable ledger. It’s been exciting to combine the experience that we have learned over the years at Cyberlab and our other ventures and use it on our latest and most ambitious project; building the foundation for an entirely new kind of web. The Spatial Web.
What is Verses?
At Verses, we’ve developed the next generation web standards and protocols that allow any virtual or real-world location to become a webspace. This enables users to track, interact and collaborate with virtual assets across all platforms and devices. It also lets you purchase virtual assets and transfer them between any virtual world or real-world location. This works because we enable any physical or virtual space to become a webspace that has a unique spatial address or Spatial URL. These SURLs enable an address to exist at any point in space, whether you are in a virtual or geo-location, you can locate any person or thing in space, subject to any blockchain-secured privacy or permissions rules. It works everywhere!
Imagine you are sitting on your couch doing a bit of shopping, instead of looking at 2D lists of items on Amazon on a screen, you are able to verbally search across numerous retailers. You quickly find what you want and compare perfect 3D examples of products, floating in the air in front of you that you can rotate & move to see any angle and even try on in some instances. Then you can easily purchase and have it delivered. This is a Web 3.0 version of shopping. This is an example of what Verses enables.
Today’s web was really designed for reading documents (Web 1.0), it then was extended to include the sharing of media (Web 2.0). But, it was simply not designed to address the immersive physical and virtual dimensions of the future. This requires more than an upgrade. Web 3.0 is a whole a new kind of network and that calls for a new vision and new stack of technologies to make it work together. That is the problem that we solve.
Today, developers need a way to create augmented and virtual spaces that can be viewed on any AR/VR hardware; including a few billion AR enabled smartphones between now and 2020. But over the next decade we believe that Verses is poised to become the standard that is used to interact with each other and with our information, ideas and imaginations on the Spatial Web.
Verses is a non-profit Foundation and we are committed to this vision. Our protocol and its supporting solutions will be built as open standards to foster worldwide community involvement, to ensure the Spatial Web is open, ubiquitous and free for all to use.
How did you come up with the idea for Verses?
It was the culmination of decades of entrepreneurial experience and software development across multiple fields and many years of working with cutting edge technologies that range from artificial intelligence for agriculture to ecommerce solutions for brands to enterprise platforms for banks. We have really pushed the boundaries of current technologies, trying to solve their limitations to create the next generation of VR and AR experiences.
We recognized that the world wide web was just fundamentally designed for a different set of interactions with information and media, which it does amazingly, however it just doesn’t have any way to address things or people in spaces, whether those are in games, apps, virtual worlds or at geo-locations on the planet. We needed to address how space could connect all of these different domains, assets and people in a new kind of network made for the Web 3.0 era.
The name for VERSES comes from a play on the the words Universe, Multiverse and Metaverse among others. In this case a “verse” is a name for any space or dimension no matter how large or small - that is now connected to the blockchain so it can be validated and contain rules regarding how a space is used. Essentially, VERSES means “Smart Space.”
What are some things that Verses enables in the next 3-5 years
Apple, Google, Microsoft and others will have launched new smart glasses that will be used by millions of people on a daily basis, in tandem with a smartphone, but eventually replacing them just like the smartphone has done with the laptop. Verses will enable users to interact with virtual content, characters and objects collaboratively, regardless of which device or OS they are using.
This will become more and more important as the Web will begin to break out from behind the screen and into the physical world while simultaneously the people, places and things of our world will be captured, digitized and brought into the virtual world, becoming part of the Internet. The lines between the real and the virtual will continue to be erased. Virtual experiences in the real world will become commonplace for both consumers and businesses enabling some really amazing “sci-fi” things to happen.
For example, in the future a family could go to the Coliseum in Rome and see it as it looked in 200 AD. From the stands they could watch a historical gladiator battle that looks completely real. As a souvenir, they may purchase a virtual shield for their child who transports it into a Games of Thrones VR game where she can use it or sell it on years later to an AR gallery that displays weapons from great battles.
Airlines and jet engine manufacturers will keep track of all maintenance and repairs in a “digital twin” of the plane and jet engines, allowing mechanics, manufacturers and regulators to all co- collaborate remotely in realtime to maximize uptime and safety.
Or a firefighter will be able to search a smoke filled building and still “see” the room they are in, locating water sources and finding stranded people.
Hollywood has been showing us the future but Verses finally enables it to actually be built. The applications of Verses technologies are vast and span the fields of education, entertainment, commerce, medicine, construction and many more. This is the dawn of a new era and many new companies and jobs will be created. We believe this is bigger than the World Wide Web and that has already been revolutionary. Sooner than we think, there will no longer be any limit to what we can create and experience together with these technologies, that is why it is important to lay the foundations that provide the security, privacy and interoperability for it now.
How do I find out more about Verses?