Much of the metaverse is about creating unique experiences directly in augmented or virtual reality. To do this, many companies and startups are focusing on creating digital analogs for the five human senses: sight, taste, touch, hearing, and smell. From digital scents to simulated touching, this technology can further help to bring the metaverse to life. One organization helping to build this innovative community is the Internet of Senses Institute (IoSI). Headed by CEO and community-builder Chris Valentine, the IoSI has created a network around companies, organizations, and even government groups, all working to move our five senses into the metaverse.
The idea for the IoSI came to Valentine during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I was having more ‘free time’ at home,” he explained, “and I started to think about what technology trends will look like in 10 to 15 years. So, instead of a one-to-three-year cycle of trend predictions, I wanted more long term.” In looking into the long-term trends, Valentine realized that much of the future metaverse technology would focus on one or more of the five senses “I see myself as a community builder, so I try to bring together different fractured groups in order to connect,” Valentine said. “And I started to think, well, what about an internet of senses community? So, this really started with: could we really build this community and bring in siloed groups and individuals? It started as a challenge to myself to connect this extremely fragmented community, and now it feels as though it’s been here forever.”
Who is Part of the Internet of Senses Institute?
As a network taking a holistic approach to this type of metaverse technology, the IoSI is comprised of four key groups: innovators in industry, startups or investors, research or education, and governmental policymakers. Valentine believes that a mix of these four groups gives a range of diverse perspectives needed to help develop this type of technology. According to Valentine: “Industry and innovators are more the established groups while startups are the new guard adding in change. Investors are helping to find many of these groups. Meanwhile, education offers a completely different kind of pathway, where they may be way farther down the road, just not commercialized. And then governmental policy which focuses on regulations and personal privacy. If we miss one of those sectors, we’re going to have issues.” With these four groups, the IoSI brings people from very different backgrounds together, allowing for more collaboration, partnerships, and a place to help develop the future of this technology.
IoSI is Predicting the Future of Metaverse Technology
As the CEO of the Internet of Senses Institute, Valentine has been able to see where the metaverse is headed and has a few predictions. “What I’m seeing right now is that in 2023 or 2024, the technology that will lead off will be tied to sight,” he explained. “And it’ll be augmented reality.” Valentine believes that AR technology will trump VR technology, mainly due to what he saw during the pandemic. “VR did not tip the way it should have with the pandemic,” he stated. “A lot of the percentage of the population was at home for two years. And in those two years, VR should have tipped.” While Valentine doesn’t think VR will come out on top, he does believe it will be successful. “I do think VR has a place in the market, but AR will probably be the most commercialized technology. VR takes you places, but AR allows us to be where we are.”
Valentine is especially excited by recent developments happening with AR vision. “I saw there was a company out of Asia that is developing a type of augmented glass that has YouTube on it,” he added. With these developments, Valentine also has predicted who the key players will be in the AR industry. “It’s already starting to hit the market. You’re already seeing Google make some traction in the market,” he said. “Then Apple will probably make the biggest dent, as it usually makes the biggest dent with market adoption.” Valentine believes that the AR trend will begin on our smartphones, with apps, while companies iron out the kinks in the technology. From there, metaverse devices will build off the AR glasses and add in other senses, like taste or smell. This will in turn will lead to wider adoption of the technology. As Valentine said: “you’re more likely to enjoy an experience the more of your senses are involved.”