Virtual Reality Service Verses Mines vCommerce Fieldbr>
Verses is a virtual reality protocol that will allow so-called vCommerce to take flight via the blockchain. Backed by Japan’s Tech Bureau Corp., the company plans a token sale to create its virtual economy ecosystem for digital goods, services and tokens. The first public demonstration was a re-creation of the Wright Brothers famous Kitty Hawk flight for an aircraft enthusiast, and its backers promise more such esoteric experiences if it can empower designers, developers, organizations and users to create, monetize and experience more immersive experiences.
Comsa is the initial coin offering platform that will manage the initial coin offering sale, set for early 2018. Verses co-founder Gabriel Rene talked with Block Tribune about the plans.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: First of all, define a virtual economy protocol.
GABRIEL RENE: What we see right now is a radical shift by many of the largest companies in the world towards virtual reality and augmented reality experiences. Virtual reality has been a long time coming for those of us who have been working on variations of it for several decades. But now that we’ve got these multi-billion dollar entities really pushing for it, you can see that this is going to become the new ecosystem, new interface for most of our interactions. The irony is that right now it’s very siloed. It’s very similar to more of the app ecosystems than the web. In order to really move forward with an integrated open virtual reality meta-verse, we believe that commerce is one of the key components to grow that marketplace. A virtual economy protocol is basically a blockchain based protocol for virtual experiences. Essentially to be able to monetize transactable micro economies in virtual worlds, similar to the way that “in-app purchases.” That would be the equivalent to functionality in the app ecosystem. But, for now, you can call it “in-world purchasing” inside VR-related experiences.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Give me a couple examples of how this is going to work.
GABRIEL RENE: We gave a very interesting example as a historically meaningful signifier early last month. What we did is we had two virtual wallets inside of VR and the classic transactional model. We had Alice and Bob. In this case, Alice purchased a virtual flight, a recreation of the Kitty Hawk flight using cryptocurrency, so this is a peer-to-peer transaction in this case, no PayPal, no Visa. As an example, Bob may have created this virtual flight. Alice has decided to purchase it and she did so, via her virtual wallet. We were at the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica. There’s a replica of the Wright flyer, the plane that they flew there at Kitty Hawk. We coined it “Crypto Hawk” as an example and recreated that entire experience as if you were Orville Wright taking that flight.
When you, as for example – and we’re talking about virtual experiences – it really could be anything. It could be an augmented reality where there’s many different eggs. The movie Ready Player One, from the book, that’s coming out. In there, you have the oasis. The main character actually needs enough money to be able to teleport to World A to World B, or maybe purchase certain virtual products, or goods, or experiences, or lessons, or consumables, et cetera. As broad and wide as the human imagination has gone, inside games are the great example, or inside virtual experiences or stories. All of those things can be an object or an asset, or an experience, or a lesson, an avatar. It doesn’t really matter. We call those smart elements. You’ve probably seen a number of folks come out with smart assets or smart objects. We think that in a virtual environment you actually have to track everything that’s relative to the environment in order for the transaction to be valid. Holistically we call those smart elements.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What are the barriers to virtual reality breaking out of the mainstream. Right now, a lot of gamers are obviously familiar with it. But what about the Mom and Pop customer?
GABRIEL RENE: This has been a problem for many years. From our advantage we see 2020 as the starting point. This is the pre-party. What needs to happen is of course you need to have an inexpensive headset with 360 degrees of freedom that’s untethered. You can see those inroads being made even by Facebook and their announcement of their latest product, which is Codename Santa Cruz, which ironically is the hometown that I grew up in. You need a headset like that. We’re going to need them to be $150 to $199. I think that if you kind of follow the tracking here, somewhere in about 2020, we’re going to see more than one of those in the marketplace. That’s on the consumer side of the house.
In the meantime, you’ve got AR. If you look at AR in terms of adoption, I think probably by this time next year you’re going to have a billion enabled phones so I think that the initial on ramp is going to be AR. Then it’s going to grow into VR. You also have companies like IMAX VR. Dreamscape, Stephen Spielberg’s new company. Focus on location-based VR. Of course, if you look at Asia, China in particular, you can see that’s the adoption curve is actually rather radical and is already happening there.
Mom and Pop and the kids will be able to go pop into their local IMAX VR, just like they were going to IMAX before, and experience a whole new set type of virtual reality worlds. In their pocket, they’re going to be carrying around augmented worlds. The headsets, I think, emerge over time. In the next five years we’ll start to see that adoption curve start to turn it’s way up. I think you have to basically have a developer community that can contribute enough of their time to create enough content to help drive real engagement, whether it’s location based or augmented VRs. Those are the distribution challenges, but the content challenges remain. The idea behind versus at large is to able to kickstart a bit of a global accelerator for the virtual reality and augmented reality development and designing communities to create that content and fuel that growth. Encourage to accelerate themselves because demand for the content.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: There’s always been people touting interactive television and other platforms, where you’ll click and be able to buy Jennifer Aniston’s sweater after seeing it on the screen. But it’s never really taken off. Why do you think that is?
GABRIEL RENE: I don’t think that it’s been a massive advantage there. We’ve been looking at technologies like that for years, hyper-spotting I think we used to call it. When you look at the current transition from web to mobile, people were working on all kinds of interesting things to do on websites. They were all essentially irrelevant, including hot spotting when mobile came around. It was a fundamental platform shift, not a feature. That’s what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about a platform shift, not merely a feature. Where there I think there have been many precursors, I think years from now we’ll back and say, “Right, there were those signifiers. There were these usability examples, but the platform didn’t exist to make them meaningful.” I think we’ll probably see the hereditary lines from those things. They’re all, I do believe, our precursors.
But that’s not what this is, this isn’t a feature. It’s a fundamental platform shift. We’ve seen these before. Many of us have been a part of them. If you go back to the 90s, where there was the original virtual reality push, there was no developer community. It wasn’t until mobile that you really had a global decentralized developer community that was creating. Certainly had it in the open source community for decades, but not that we’re creating consumer products. You couldn’t get content from, we’ll call it the average designer developer app, until the world of apps came along, until mobile came a long. There was a major platform shift. That’s what we’re seeing now. We’re seeing really the fourth platform shift, PC, web, mobile, and now XR technologies.
From our vantage point, you can’t really do that well and at scale without building with a really robust block chain back bone. Because, essentially we have the challenge now where, just on the web alone, there’s massive fraud, there’s fake news. These things are just in a 2D format on screens. When, and as we move into hyper-realism in immersive experiences, and with some of the advancements in AI that are replicating human voices, human faces, micro expression tracking.
We’re going to get to a point where not only are we going to have fake news, we’re going to have fake people. Entire replications. If you and I want to have a private conversation, how do we know that it’s you and I? Much less talking about which avatars are owned by whom, and which assets are owned by those avatars, and in what environment are those assets able to exist. How do you transfer them from World A to World B. There’s a significant roadmap here, a decade plus, in most of those challenges. We think now is the time to lay those early foundations. Get the cornerstones in place and help light up the community to build that together.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: What role does traditional Hollywood play in this? They’ve usually been the story tellers for the world. Do they have a role here? Are they a player now? Will they be a player?
GABRIEL RENE: Yeah. That’s a really good question. Not suggesting I have perfect vision here, but I think we’re transitioning from a world where narratives were controlled by centralists. We’ve been experiencing someone else’s narrative, then we call these stories. We project ourselves into our favorite character. We empathize and we sympathize. Some of our better human characteristics are exemplified in these characters in the whole spectrum of humanity. But they’re not our experiences. As you move into this point of view perspective, it really becomes about crafting stories from our own point of view where we are the hero, and not just Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker. Which, will continue to be amazing characters to embody, but in other cases they’ll be us. They’ll be characters we come up with. I think we’re going to move from user-generated content to user-generated experiences. I think people, instead of posting YouTube videos of themselves, are going to be sharing their experiences. Some people will be observers, like you see on Twitch, watching other people’s games. There will be a number of branches that go out from there.
Hollywood will play a really important role in that. In fact, I think Hollywood will be the leader of that. We’re seeing it now. I think the IMAX VR is made up of a lot of folks out of Hollywood. Dreamscape again, Spielberg. Many of the studios are invested in those. You see Disney and a company called The Void doing some amazing stuff. I think Hollywood will be the big trailblazer here. But in the many of the same ways we see in traditional media, eventually be a trailblazer for what became consumer journalism and user generated content. You always have a quality control problem when you start to go wide. Hollywood has done an amazing job of, I would say, producing top tier entertainment for folks. There’s always that balancing act between what’s too narrow versus what’s more diverse.
We’re moving into this new platform. We’re moving into a narrative. I would call it self-narrative. No one really knows how to do that well. Maybe some of the studios will figure it out first. Or, maybe it will come from some college dorm or some garage somewhere like entrepreneurial work and great art has in the past. I think Hollywood is critically important.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Let me ask you this, then. A lot of technological developments have come out of the sex industry. What role will they play? Are they playing a role right now?
GABRIEL RENE: I think that in terms of technological innovation, it gets pushed by demand. We’ve seen it when video first hit the web. It was the adult industry that was pushing that innovation because the demand was there. Technological breakthroughs, compression, how to get higher quality content squeeze through those pipes of the internet was … They’ve kind of always been at the forefront because of the demand. The thing I’d say about the adult industry is that will continue to happen, regardless of platform as long as humans have demand for sexual content from the flat screen to immersive 360 video, which I think is where they’re going now.
Then you’ve got a lot of folks that are trying to innovate in other areas. We’ve seen everything from haptic vests that you wear, people using sort of air holograms. Then there’s a whole group of folks that are really big on augmented experiences with virtual dolls. I think that the adult market will continue to push technological innovation in wherever they find human demand for adult entertainment. It will be in its own sector, in its own planet, you know, the red light district of the metaverse. In many ways that’s kind of why another component of blockchain, I think, will be able to address content or appropriate to a particular genre.
It’s important that content or experiences that are created for children aren’t easily hacked. You know, the clowns suddenly get really scary. That content that is not appropriate for children is able to be tracked and controlled in ways that ensure that parents that don’t want violent, or scary, or whatever kind of experiences to pop up. I think instead of having a large entity makes those decisions, like in the film and television industries. It’s something that can potentially be addressed by the community at large. But there will be some comfort in terms of the security of those experiences once we start to look at them from the trackability of authentication rules around block chain technologies. The more you look at this, the more you realize how important the intersection is with block chain, encrypto, and extender XR related experiences. We are moving towards hyper realism. It’s coming very quickly. We need to make sure that we manage those securely, authenticate our transactions, and our experiences in the right way.
BLOCK TRIBUNE: Let’s talk about your upcoming ICO. You’re running it out of Tokyo.