Humphrey Ho
Jun 23, 2022

Can Apple and Meta play nice in the metaverse?

As AR kits become ubiquitous, the battle to sell metaverse hardware will be of secondary importance to the battle for ownership of what the hardware produces, says Hylink's US general manager

Can Apple and Meta play nice in the metaverse?

Irrespective of how Apple and Meta feel about each other, they will have to play nice to make the metaverse dream a reality. Apple’s hardware may be a catalyst for the internet 3.0, but it also introduces inherent consumer protection risks. 

The key to the metaverse is already in your pocket

The next step into powering the metaverse isn’t investing in more hardware as Meta, Apple, Microsoft, Sony, and Google have rushed to do already – because the most powerful metaverse device is already in your pocket. With Apple and Android smartphones already being equipped to handle AR kits, a software methodology that can add virtual elements to the real world through your camera, 99.9% of the metaverse’ objectives can already be accomplished, short of the extreme risk-taking behavior of owning virtual property – you’ll have to settle for the old-fashioned ownership of property offline. 

What AR kit can do is offer true economic benefit to content creators and businesses by leveraging the ubiquity of smartphones and allowing consumers to visualize products or services in the comfort of their own homes. 

Insuring a gesture – is it possible?

The next saga of the metaverse may be insurance, but how can this be applied to the intangible? Decentralized, untraceable, and vague pretty much describes anything related to the metaverse – VR/AR glasses are no exception and come with their own host of unique consumer protection issues. Unlike a photo or video being documented, generally via front or back facing camera, the real-world ownership of gestures made and recorded by VR/AR glasses inside a virtual reality environment is vague. Is it owned by the person who first made the gesture? The individual(s) videographing? The millions of users who copied the gesture and made it go viral? Or, the individuals who monetized it?

If one user were to purchase insurance on a motion, as soon as it was monetized it would become a loss that would need to be claimed. Fast-forward to millions of permutations arising from repeated monetisation of a motion, and the notion of ownership becomes even fuzzier. With this many users involved, the payout would be a class action lawsuit every time. 

Consider the viral “dab” gesture, which has since been made into millions of NFTs – no one knows who the original subject was (and likely never will), and widespread use and monetization of the motion would make it extremely difficult to insure. 

In navigating the decentralized territory of the metaverse, it’s impossible not to consider Apple’s role. They may be playing on the same team right now, but could there soon be multiple metaverses spearheaded by warring tech giants?

Humphrey Ho is managing director of Hylink USA.

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