The metaverse is the latest buzzword, with Facebook officially changing its name to Meta and Mark Zuckerberg speaking in length about it in his company’s annual conference spurring curiosity as to what it really is.
But what can the metaverse really do? Is it just for entertainment and games? Augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) firm Transmira, Inc. Founder and CEO Robert Rice discusses this in detail as he presents his sophisticated metaverse platform Omniscape at the recently concluded BSV Global Blockchain Convention in Dubai.
An AR/VR and metaverse pioneer, Rice has been working in the field for three decades. He has experienced and overcome—and continues to do so—many challenges. Developing his AR/VR and metaverse platform is something that Rice has made a life of.
“My career, background or expertise with AR, VR and the metaverse in general started around 1992 when I was invited to be the first employee at the first virtual arcade game company in the United States. And it has been one heck of a crazy journey since then, but it’s taken 30 years to get to this point, not just for me personally on a career basis, but from a technology and industry perspective,” Rice shared.
It can be said that Rice is one of the masters of the metaverse and the go-to person when it comes to this emerging technology. He has dedicated his life to thinking beyond just creating a metaverse that is geared towards just entertainment and gaming. It can both be fun and cool, yet still offer real-world benefits that could boost the global economy and offer incentives to both individuals and businesses.
“I like to define [the metaverse] as something a little bigger and broader. I think it’s the sum total of all the data and information and everything digital that surrounds us. You know exactly where we’re at today with our phones or at home working with our desktops. But all this data together presented in a way that’s more immersive, more interactive, more visual and more tangible—whether it’s through augmented reality or virtual reality or something in the middle,” Rice said.
“I think if you begin to think of things in this way as opposed just some 3D fun virtual world off to the side, but really think of the metaverse as this whole encompassing thing, I think it makes it a lot easier to really understand and identify the sheer potential that the metaverse has and what we can do with it,” Rice added.
Rice then outlines what Transmira is currently building and what sets it apart from metaverse platforms, such as Meta’s Horizons, Second Life, Decentraland and Sandbox, that offer cartoonish digital environments geared towards selling cryptocurrency tokens and 2D NFTs.
“One of the things these core fundamental things that I think is important to really master the metaverse and really bring out its full potential is going to be location. And this has to be centered on the real world to get that utility and the context and relevance,” Rice pointed out.
“Imagine a city like Los Angeles, Miami, Las Vegas or Dubai in full immersive 3D, just amazing photorealistic scale. And without a need for a head-mounted display—just being able to use it on a desktop or with a head-mounted display is fine—but being able to walk around on the ground or flying through the air, walking into any building or any business or any museum, but feeling like you’re actually there,” Rice added.
With Omniscape, Rice and his team are currently developing digital twins of actual cities, with the goal of putting the world on its platform in the future. People’s holograms or avatars will also be shown in the platform in real time, and users can communicate with each other, buy actual goods, and receive coupons and rewards.
It will be a completely monetized metaverse where each place or building can be customized to fit a client’s needs. According to Rice, if there was an oil rig located in the middle of an ocean, executives would not have to personally go there in a helicopter. They can just go to Omniscape and click on specific areas or machinery, for instance, within the location and check for maintenance records and safety measures. This will save a lot of time and money.
And instead of having brands and businesses put up billboards or banners, they can advertise using 3D NFTs and virtual goods. For instance, a supermarket owner can click on its location and check for specific inventory or create an event where shoppers can click on limited-edition virtual goods that can be exchanged into real products or discounts.
“3D NFTs and virtual goods, the idea here is crossing over between the physical and the digital, and having that absolute link where one is equal to ownership in the other or one can be exchanged for the other. I think this is the root of the future of monetization and commerce straight across the board for the metaverse,” Rice explained.
This kind of metaverse platform is certainly heavy on data needs, and it can only be done on blockchain. But not just any blockchain as it has to be scalable in order to accommodate the perennially growing demands of the market, which translates to an immense number of transactions.
Only a scalable blockchain will make micropayments, the sending of very small amounts of money or fractions of a token, viable and practical. Imagine if, for instance, Listerine wants to send 50 cents to each customer for every $20 spent on its products as a rewards system. If Listerine is doing it on the ETH blockchain, it would currently cost $7.91 to send those 50 cents. It is not practical at all.
“But BSV as a blockchain is absolutely superior to every other option that’s out there. It’s fast. It’s scalable. It can handle the data. It can handle all the things. And the transaction fees are so minimal that it is perfect. We can do tremendous things,” Rice said.
At present, the BSV Blockchain is averaging fees of 1/20 to 1/100 of a cent per transaction at 4GB blocks and a throughput of 50,000 to 100,000 transactions per second (tps). And as BSV continues to scale, exobyte-sized blocks and billions of tps at fees of 1/100000 of a cent is possible.