Will the Metaverse arrive soon?
Depending on who you speak to at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the event has showcased a range of advances in virtual reality (VR) technology that could see us further immersed in the virtual world.
At the four-day tech gathering in Las Vegas, which ended on Sunday, the concept of the metaverse—essentially a term used to describe 3D virtual communities in which people can interact, work, and enjoy themselves—was a major topic of conversation.
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HTC has presented a top-of-the-line virtual reality headset in an attempt to contend with main rival Meta, as well as other businesses and startups showing off augmented reality eyewear and perceptual systems that enable customers to experience — and even smell — in a virtual world.
OVR Technology, headquartered in Vermont, unveiled a headset with a cartridge that contains eight primary aromas that can be blended to create various scents. It is slated for launch later in 2021.
The earlier business edition of the VR goggles, used mainly for promoting fragrances and beauty items, has been adapted to enable users to experience the scent of a variety of things, such as a bouquet of roses or a marshmallow roasting over a campfire.
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The company is promoting their product, which comes with an app, as a digital spa that combines elements of relaxation and Instagram.
According to Aaron Wisniewski, CEO and co-founder of the company, we are entering a time when extended reality will shape the way we do business, have fun, learn, communicate, and maintain our mental health. The success of these experiences depends on how immersive and emotionally-stimulating they are, and scent can give them an unparalleled advantage.
Although virtual reality (VR) technologies are becoming more accessible, they are still in their early stages of development and expensive for many consumers. Even more advanced uses of scent and taste, which are closely related, are further away on the innovation spectrum.
Data from the NPD Group reveals that sales of virtual reality (VR) headsets, which are frequently used in gaming, decreased by 2% in the last year, indicating a decrease in enthusiasm for the product. This is not good news for companies that have invested heavily in VR.
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Major corporations such as Microsoft and Meta are investing billions of dollars in the development of touch-replicating wearables and related technologies, as they compete to gain a foothold in the market.
Though Ozan Ozaskinli travelled 29 hours from Istanbul to attend CES, donning yellow gloves and a black vest to test a “haptics product” which uses buzzes and vibrations to stimulate our sense of touch, the customers’ reactions have not been overwhelmingly positive.
Ozaskinli attempted to use a code on a keypad to unlock a box containing a shiny gemstone, yet ultimately he was disappointed with the outcome.
Ozaskinli expressed his opinion that the idea of using VR for Zoom meetings was far from being a reality at the time. However, he suggested that if it was an option, it would be beneficial since it would allow people to “feel something.”
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Supporters of virtual reality point to how its widespread adoption can ultimately be of advantage to different sections of society, by affording the opportunity to connect with anyone, anywhere, any time. Although it is too soon to know the full impact of these technologies as they develop, businesses that are eager to provide the most engaging experiences for their consumers are embracing them with enthusiasm.
Aurora Townsend, the CMO of the company Flare, announced that their upcoming VR dating app Planet Theta, launching next month, would include more tactile sensations like touch as soon as the technology is more accessible to the public.
Townsend stated that once haptic technology is completely integrated into virtual reality, the subtle manner in which people interact with each other, such as feeling the ground while walking with a partner or holding hands, will be altered.
Matthew Ball, a metaverse expert, predicted that although many of these products may be available in the near future, they are not likely to be widely adopted by the gaming industry. He believes that the first to take advantage of these products will be fields with higher budgets and more specific needs, such as bomb squads utilizing haptics and virtual reality to aid in their operations, as well as medical professionals.
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Johns Hopkins neurosurgeons claimed in 2021 that they utilized augmented reality technology in order to successfully accomplish spinal fusion surgery and remove a cancerous tumor from a patient’s spine.
David Goldman, the Vice President of Marketing for Israeli company Lumus, which produces AR glasses, states that their optical technology is already being used by underwater welders, fighter pilots, and surgeons who are looking to check a patient’s vital signs or MRI scans whilst operating without needing to look away from the patient to multiple screens. Metaverse
Lumus, an Israeli company that produces augmented reality glasses, is already being utilized by divers, fighter pilots and doctors who wish to keep an eye on a patient’s medical readings or MRI images while performing a procedure without having to glance at various screens, according to David Goldman, Vice President of Marketing. Similarly, Xander, a Boston-based startup that manufactures glasses that display real-time captions of face-to-face conversations for people with hearing impairments, will initiate a pilot program with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in the coming month to assess some of its technology, informed Alex Westner, the organization’s co-founder and CEO. He added that the agency will give veterans with hearing difficulties or other audio related issues the ability to test the glasses in some of their clinics. If the trial is successful, the agency will most likely become a customer, Westner said.
Walmart, Nike, and other large companies have implemented various virtual reality initiatives, yet it is uncertain what the financial gain may be in the early stages of its development. According to McKinsey, the metaverse could produce up to $5 trillion by 2030. Nonetheless, outside of the gaming sphere, Michael Kleeman, a tech strategist and visiting scholar at the University of California San Diego, notes that the current use of VR remains largely a peripheral pastime.
When people are pushing for this, they must explain what the benefit is and how it is profitable. It is not about what is enjoyable, charming, or fascinating.