Blockchain is a groundbreaking idea shaking the foundation of many industries. But it’s not the only new idea that’s doing so. While there are benefits to putting all your efforts into one technology, for a more complete vision of what the world will look like ten years from now, we need to examine projects that combine new technologies and ideas into something that seems like it’s taken out of a sci-fi movie.
Infiniverse is one such project. It combines blockchain technology with augmented reality (AR) to create a new version of our world. But why AR? And what exactly does Infiniverse do? What’s its vision of the world? Read on to find out…
A Primer on Augmented Reality
It’s important to distinguish between AR and its better-known brother Virtual Reality (VR). Both are different technologies and serve different markets too. Whereas VR immerses you into an entirely new world created from scratch by developers, AR overlays a digital world onto the real world. A VR device blocks out our world, but an AR device doesn’t.
Over the last few years, VR has had the spotlight a bit more than AR. But AR is more applicable everywhere. After all, it’s more likely that people want to augment the world they live in instead of moving to a completely new world altogether. Don’t get me wrong, virtual reality is fantastic technology for industries such as gaming, movies, or any other industry where you need to be fully immersed. But wherever interaction with the real world is needed, for example in industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, and construction, AR is likely to have more value.
AR can be integrated easier in society as well. Whereas VR requires you to buy a new, often unwieldy device, nearly everyone already has an AR device: their smartphone. In fact, you might have come in touch with AR already. Pokemon Go is the most famous example of an AR game that millions of people play around the world. Even after its viral launch in 2016, the game still had around 150 million daily active users in 2018.
Digi-Capital, an AR/VR adviser firm based in Silicon Valley, said in their 2018 report that AR is heading towards $90 billion in revenue by 2022, compared to $15 billion for VR. And while these numbers are very hard to accurately estimate, major tech companies such as Facebook, Apple, Google, and especially Snapchat are either shifting away from VR to AR or have always focused on AR.
The difference between AR and VR is also how Infiniverse differs from a project like Decentraland. Whereas Decentraland is a VR project that places you into a new world, Infiniverse overlays a digital world onto the real world. And here’s how…
Infiniverse’s tagline is “the world’s digital layer”. It’s an AR world running on the EOS blockchain. The team behind the project realized that AR had a lot of potential and is already easily available through smartphone devices. But apart from Pokemon Go, no other AR app seem to have caught on yet.
Infiniverse believes that’s because there’s not enough AR content yet. And while there might be great AR apps available already, each app is an isolated experience, and AR content is scattered over apps that few people use. That’s a problem. and to solve it, Infiniverse asked itself three questions:
- How can multiple AR apps be experienced at the same time?
- How do we assign rights to place AR content in specific locations?
- How can various AR apps interact with one another?
Infiniverse’s answer to these questions is a digital land registry for real-world locations, as well as a platform to combine all that digital space with a single, persistent, and interactive virtual world. A whole mouthful, so let’s break that down.
Land in Infiniverse
First of all, Infiniverse is a digital land registry for real-world locations. One parcel of land in Infiniverse corresponds to a square meter of land in the real world. You can purchase land for a yearly fee, just like you would register a website domain, and you can do so either by using the Infiniverse AR app (which has just gone in public beta on the iOS and Android store) or by using the land registration tool on Infiniverse’s website.
You buy land with Infinicoin, the project’s own token (more on that later), and you use land to rent it to others, sell it again, or to place persistent content on it.
Wait… What’s Persistent Content?
There are two types of content in Infiniverse: attached content and persistent content. Attached content are the digital assets that follow you around in the world. It’s like carrying a digital backpack. Each time you open the Infiniverse app, your attached content will pop up and people will be able to see what you’re carrying with you (if you choose to show your digital assets publicly). Open up the Infiniverse app and show the digital car you created, or the architectural model of the house you’re building.
Persistent content, on the other hand, stays fixed in a certain location, regardless of whether you’re running the app. That’s why you need land: it’s where you can build your own little world, filling it up with persistent content that will show for anyone who’s running the app. There’s a nice little video of the app’s alpha version that gives you an idea of what this looks like.
Here at DGaming, we’ve talked plenty about one of the main benefits of blockchain: being able to trade your digital assets (which have real value!) with someone else, without the need for an intermediary. These assets can be displayed in a game or on the web. But Infiniverse allows you to visualize these assets in the real world too. You meet up in person, both open your app, and show each other your digital assets, which will be hovering around your body. It’s another route for digital assets to come into the real world and become an integral part of our daily lives.
What Does This All Have to do With the Blockchain?
So far, we’ve mostly talked a lot about AR. But Infiniverse is very much a blockchain project too. First of all, its ownership ledger is built using EOS smart contracts. This means that the ownership of land and digital assets is tracked on the EOS blockchain. Infiniverse chose for EOS over Ethereum because it wanted a seamless experience for its users. Ethereum, because of its Proof of Work consensus mechanism, has slow transaction times and high fees for its users during periods of high loads.
EOS, on the other hand, has a Delegated Proof of Stake consensus mechanism, which means it’s much faster. And users do not have to pay a fee for every transaction. Infiniverse doesn’t want its users to know their land and assets are tracked and verified using the blockchain, and EOS fit that bill.
Secondly, Infiniverse uses the Interplanetary File System (IPFS) as its asset distribution layer. This means IPFS hosts all the content in Infiniverse. It’s a decentralized network, which means better bandwidth and no single point of failure. If all content were to be hosted through a single entity (for example, on Infiniverse servers), there’s a risk of instant death for all the content in Infiniverse if that entity were to fail. Using IPFS, this is impossible.
Let’s Talk about Infiniverse’s Economy
As mentioned above, digital land can be bought using Infinicoin (INF), the project’s token. You can also use INF to transact on the marketplace and buy digital assets. You can earn INF by renting or selling your land, by placing premium content on land that users have to pay a fee for, or by doing jobs for other Infiniverse users.
Infiniverse hasn’t done an ICO, but instead held an INF airdrop and airgrab on November 27th 2018, where users received free INF. This created a market for players to start using the token.
INF is a pure utility token, which means it’s not designed for speculating or maximizing value. It’s meant to be used, not to be held in the hopes of it appreciating. Infiniverse believes that too much volatility in the value of INF would be detrimental to the project. Content creators and marketplace sellers want confidence that the value of their land and their assets will remain relatively stable, so they don’t have to constantly adjust their sale prices.
In fact, Infiniverse has its own monetary policy to keep the value of INF relatively stable. For anyone who’s ever studied economics: they use the classic M*V = P*T equation.
- M = supply of INF
- V = velocity of INF in a given period
- P = avg price of a square meter of land in INF
- T = number of square meters of land transacted in a given period
Infiniverse controls the M of the equation, and will increase or decrease the supply of INF to keep the average price of land stable. Quantitative easing for a blockchain project, how about that!
This doesn’t mean that buying land or digital assets in Infiniverse isn’t a worthwhile investment. All the monetary policy of INF does is strip away inflation driven by speculation. INF will appreciate if the real value of digital land increases, which will happen if the project succeeds. There’s no room for a crazy crypto bull run in this project (and a subsequent bubble burst). It’s real value that counts.
Challenges for Infiniverse
Creating a successful blockchain project is hard. Creating a successful blockchain and AR project is even harder. It’s still early days for Infiniverse, and they’ve acknowledged in their whitepaper that they face a few difficult challenges:
GNSS stands for Global Navigation Satellite Systems, and it’s what Infiniverse uses to track your location. This is necessary for the app to display persistent content in the right places. But GNSS is only accurate to within five meters. This might not seem like much, but it means that persistent content will drift in between sessions, or that you and your friend won’t see content in the same location.
Additionally, AR + GNSS will significantly drain the battery of today’s smartphones. The app also takes up a significant amount of mobile bandwidth, because it needs to download all that virtual content. Given that many people have a max data allowance on their phone plans, that’s a problem.
People can also quite easily fake the GNSS location of their phone, which means the Infiniverse app can display attached content as if it’s persistent content (so its users won’t need to buy land).
However, Infiniverse is working hard to address all these challenges. They’ve teamed up with the XYO Network to stop GNSS spoofing and they’re likely to move to Google’s Visual Positioning System so they won’t need to rely on GNSS as much anymore. Additionally, they’re relying on batteries to improve and give their users the option to display AR content in low quality, to save on bandwidth.
What Does This Mean for Gaming?
AR can play a huge role in gaming, as evidenced by the massive success of Pokemon Go in 2016 (and to this date). Infiniverse allows its users to create games and place them onto the land they’ve bought.
An existing theme park can improve its offering by integrating AR games into their existing games, or create new digital games on empty space. An empty plot of land could become a new, digital arcade where visitors can play (and send you INF for).
Digital tours can be created, where people are incentivized to visit certain landmarks where they can find digital chests full of rewards. People can roleplay digitally, by overlaying their unique outfits over their body. A normal person walking around the street might have epic dragon wings attached to her back on the Infiniverse app. The possibilities are endless.
As Napoleon Hill said in his seminal book “Think and Grow Rich”; thoughts become things. The Infiniverse app integrates our creativity and our imagination with the real world. It’s an exciting vision of the future, where thoughts become things in ways that Napolean Hill couldn’t have imagined.