In an announcement this week, Verses announced its protocol for augmented and virtual reality in the world wide web. This raises the question “who is Verses?”
“Verses is a non-profit foundation creating the universal protocols and standards for the next generation of the Web. Freed from the page, this new Spatial Web is a single, world-wide network linking people, places and things both virtual and physical, enabling seamless interaction, transaction, and navigation between them.”
They do have a website where you can read up on their plans. Since they are a non-profit, they are looking for partners that will support them and adopt the protocol they are trying to push.
So what are they trying to push in the first place?
As it seems they are looking at a new web protocol that replaces the web page based internet of today with a location-based service that allows users to include items based on their physical location.
They call this ‘Web 3.0’ or ‘the spatial web’. Instead of a domain name, they base the web entities on the actual location. Get it? You go around with your AR glasses and the AR content is linked to the actual location. Since geo-tracking is key, the AR technology the rights to an actual space are kind of key. Back at the height of Pokemon Go, many cities complained about the use of public spaces for a company-driven activity. I am not clear how Verses will prevent this issue from occurring again.
To go one step further, if Ford buys the spatial domain of the GM headquarter, they could advertise Ford cars when you look at the GM building. Great for Ford, but not so great for GM! This is true for almost all businesses that have a competitor. To go one step further, if China buys the spatial domain of the White House …… You get it, there are more questions than answers so far.
While I am not debating that this is great idea, it needs to be regulated instead of being open to the entrepreneurs of the internet. Remember when the first web wizards scooped up websites before companies even had the idea that a web presence is an important part of marketing? Site names were sold at a premium to the late comers. Now, web sites are often up for auction if the name seems to allow for a financial benefit. Such a situation based on pure location data is, at least, questionable in my opinion. Location domains should belong the owner of the property, period. If the owner of the property wants to allow advertising it has to be up to him and not someone on the other side of the globe that rents out this property as an advertising space. Somehow I do not believe that this is on the mind of Verses though.
Did I mention what makes Verses so sexy? It is throwing in the buzzword of the decade in their announcement. Yes, you guessed it, it is based on Blockchain technology. What better than that? If any high tech investor wasn’t enticed by Web 3.0, Blockchain should do the trick.
So how do you interact with this new spatial web? The Token allows every user to register, move assets and complete transactions in the spatial web. As shown below, there are three smart spaces that allow you to complete such transactions. I think I am not the only one that is reminded of the introduction of cookies, PayPal, etc. In this case the technology is already incorporated into the the design of the spatial web. I am not saying that this isn’t smart, I just don’t understand how such concepts go together with a non-profit organization.
If this idea becomes reality, there will be fights about every single right for every single item on this spatial web. Does anybody think that PayPal will give up its business because we go to a spatial web? This is true for every single business that is based on the web. One that comes to mind early on is Alphabet. They make a killing with web-based services and want to continue their dominance in every iteration of the Internet one can think of. So what are they going to do?
Don’t get me wrong, I really like the idea of the integration of the Internet and AR technology, I just doubt that this is even close to be an acceptable concept. Considering the political, privacy, legal and business issues that arise from such a concept, I severely doubt that a non-profit organization has the power to establish such a system. This seems to be more of a concept that needs to be driven by the United Nations rather than a private organization.
So far they have nine partners, VR/AR Association, Imax, Open AR Cloud, Seed, Nem, Botanic, Virtual World Society, Blockchain Industries, and Decentranet. If you are anything like me, I was able to identify two company names without using Google for enlightenment. Not a very encouraging starting point. I wish them good luck in establishing a more open system that will bring the AR technology forward instead of stalling it based on corporate interests. – NH