Editor’s Note: The following is the second part of a feature story on Phenix Real-Time Solutions. Click here to read the first part that focuses on the gamification of real-time streaming.
The future of the metaverse is a digital reality that runs in tandem with the real one. The metaverse could include everything from digital conferences to hangouts to games. One of the technologies required to make those products feasible is real-time video streaming. One company that is pioneering real-time streaming technology is Phenix Real-Time Solutions.
“We are providing the video transport, audio transport, [and] the data transport. With those three pieces, you can construct a wide variety of user experiences that include things like overlays and chat or other kinds of features,” Phenix Chief Product Offer, Bill Wishon, said.
It’s easy to underestimate the importance of real-time video, audio, and data transfer. However, they’re key ingredients in making the virtual world feel interactive. A five-second delay on a phone call would ruin the phone call and make it difficult to hold a conversation with someone else. That small lag spread across hundreds of thousands of users would make realistic online interaction impossible.
But without that lag, customers can see, hear, and respond in real-time. Real-time streaming would make conversations and conferences in the metaverse possible.
Although the future of the metaverse remains distant and uncertain, the key components are being applied today.
The Future Of The Metaverse Rests On Immersion
Today, Phenix offers real-time video products, including a multi-camera service that has been successful in F1 racing. Phenix’s multi-angle product allows viewers to watch live feeds from different angles across multiple screens, including car bumpers, the chopper’s view, and different turns.
“Having a device [where] you can choose different angles and watch from different parts of the course while still…watching your corner was something that kept people engaged in the race in a way they may [not be] when the cars are all gone,” Wishon said.
But synchronous video is only the first step toward immersion. Adaptive audio will be the next step. Adaptive audio would change the audio based on the video’s perspective so that the video sounds the same as if a viewer were sitting in that location. The back of the F1 car’s bumper would sound like the bumper. The chopper would sound like the chopper.
Together, real-time audio and video could lay the groundwork for an augmented reality app where viewers can experience subtle audio changes depending on which angle they’re watching an event from. From early innovations like these, adding real-time chat, polls, or wagers are only another small step away. The future of the metaverse may be far off, but augmented reality is already here.
Why Augmented Reality Is The Present
The metaverse will encompass both augmented reality and virtual reality. Virtual reality is a digital reality that requires extra equipment to enter, like VR goggles. But augmented reality lays a digital world over the real world.
Pokemon Go is an early example of augmented reality. It overlays Pokemon over the real world that players capture in the digital world. Critically, Pokemon Go works with existing technology. Players only need to download the app like any other app. That makes augmented reality a more realistic place to expect the types of innovations that Phenix is pioneering.
“I’m looking for things you can do with your phone and your earbuds,” Wishon said. “The Apple [earbuds] with spatial audio are available today, and everybody has them, and they’re available with your device.”
Using current technology allows companies like Phenix to build and release products today instead of waiting for widespread adoption of VR equipment. There may come a day when VR products are as widely used as smartphones and tablets. But in the meantime, the immersive experiences that may one day be commonplace in the metaverse will be built for smartphones and tablets.
A Stepping Stone Toward Something Bigger
Making digital audiences feel closer to the events they’re watching remotely will be foundational to advanced technologies like the metaverse. Watching events from multiple angles in real-time and hearing the sounds adapt to a viewer’s camera angle is what Wishon calls a “stepping stone” to the metaverse.
“I’m not ready to jump into all the hype around the metaverse,” Wishon said. “But it is interesting to me that along the way from here to there are more immersive experiences that can be had by adding data and overlays to existing content.”
As immersive viewing becomes increasingly normal, the gamification of sports betting, awards shows, and other online events will become more widespread. There will be more behind-the-scenes content accessible from smartphones. Viewers will expect to be able to respond to polls or prompts mid-stream and even interact with other members of the audience.
These early trends will offer insight into what metaverse users will expect when metaverse access becomes widespread, convenient, and desirable.