The Metaverse is a virtual or augmented reality world where people interact via their online virtual identities (e.g., avatars). Though the idea of the Metaverse has been around for years and was made famous by science fiction literature and films, it has only recently gained popularity due to developments in extended reality, AI, IoT, and blockchain technology. This article explores notable Metaverse technologies, leading patent filers, and more.
Key technologies driving the Metaverse include augmented reality (AR), which overlays digital information onto the physical world, enhancing perception and interaction; virtual reality (VR), which immerses users in virtual environments through headsets and motion-tracking devices; blockchain and cryptocurrencies, providing secure frameworks for managing digital assets, transactions, and identities; and artificial intelligence (AI), enabling realistic simulations, intelligent automation, and personalized experiences.
Popular platforms in the Metaverse include Meta Horizon, a social VR platform; Roblox, a user-generated content platform for games and virtual worlds; Decentraland, a decentralized virtual world empowering users to create and trade digital assets; Fortnite, which hosts virtual events and social spaces; and Minecraft, a creative and collaborative virtual world. These platforms represent a fraction of the expanding Metaverse ecosystem, which holds the potential to transform our lives through immersive experiences and innovative applications
Patent filings related to the Metaverse cover a number of different technologies, including pattern arrangements, 2-D image generation, and 3-D image rendering. Our research suggests that digital twin technology is also garnering a significant amount of attention. As its name suggests, a digital twin is a virtual representation or replica of a physical object, system, or process. Companies like Siemens and IBM are filing patent applications in this domain, and are producing products/prototypes as well. Recently, Nvidia partnered with digital reality vendors Hexagon and Siemens to create industrial digital twin products.
Starting in 2013, companies such as Microsoft, Samsung, and Siemens initiated the process of patent filing within the Metaverse field.
Companies like Magic Leap, SNAP, and IBM, which had shown minimal patent activity prior to 2018, have since become highly active in this domain. For instance, Magic Leap filed multiple patents on see-through displays (e.g., WO2022060743A1 and WO2022150222A1) in 2021. The following year, they introduced an advanced AR headset and filed patents on electromagnetic tracking (e.g., US11157090B2 and US20220404904A1).
In addition, IBM introduced the “IBM Metaverse,” a virtual world that enables individuals to engage and cooperate within an immersive, three-dimensional setting. Notably, the majority of IBM’s patents were filed prior to 2020 and pertained to the realm of virtual reality.
In mid-2023, Apple launched its mixed-reality headset Vision Pro headset, which seamlessly blends digital content with the physical world.
There is a prevailing sense of positivity and enthusiasm surrounding the expansion of the Metaverse. With its potential to revolutionize our lives and work, the Metaverse presents an intriguing prospect for enhancing the human experience. However, privacy, security, and governance issues must be meticulously addressed to guarantee a secure and inclusive Metaverse environment for everyone.