‘Perhaps together we can learn how to choose what buildings we need’
The world’s largest building company was interested in investing in virtual reality.
That was one of the goals set when Walt Disney Co , 3D Systems Corp and Ikea launched a consortium called R3:JAX earlier this year. But it was just one side of the group’s aim to develop technologies and tools that could propel the exponential growth of the Metaverse, a fictional, virtual world that resembles life on Earth.
Now Metaverse Real Estate, a subsidiary of R3:JAX, has raised nearly $20m in a financing round led by a major healthcare startup called Mosaik. Existing investors Ventures of NY, Vy Capital and Box Group also participated.
Alphabet-owned Google has also taken a 6.7% stake in R3:JAX to give it an inside track to sharing its VR technologies with others.
“One of the great benefits of being a platform is that we can open doors to lots of companies and people who might otherwise have no way to share that technology,” says Valeri Gorov, senior vice-president of business operations at R3:JAX. “It gives us access to new talent, to new markets, to people outside of our core verticals of entertainment and manufacturing.”
The Metaverse Real Estate deal with Mosaik is just one example of those possibilities. In an interview with the Guardian, Mosaik co-founder Jonathan Johnson explained that the Metaverse Real Estate would be used to evaluate and develop real estate before the purchase. The group’s aim is to help make expensive decisions involving long-term, tangible real estate purchases a bit more practical.
In person, it all feels a bit like science fiction. The interaction tools developed by Metaverse Real Estate are similar to those of Google’s one-to-one virtual reality video chat experiences or the airline-style onboard entertainment systems Boeing makes for its Dreamliner jets. However, the Metaverse Real Estate also works with a virtual reality headset.
“Perhaps together we can learn how to choose what buildings we need,” says Johnson. “Or learn how to make the case for it from a physical perspective and a financial perspective.”
Experts consider the Metaverse Real Estate collaboration a vote of confidence for developers who have been able to use the Metaverse reality platform for VR travel, by walking around the world’s museums or re-creating ancient ruins. Already, Google has paired with real estate giant Corvex to create a travel website called Polyglot, which guides visitors through the wonders of the world, as real live people. The experience’s drawn in hundreds of thousands of visitors.
Mosaik is an Israeli developer of VR software and camera systems, which can be put to use by architects and developers in planning a space. Johnson and his co-founder Yoav Surner met their fellow founders after reporting a recent house fire. As usual, the fire department had no idea what they needed for information in digital life.
Johnson says that the Metaverse Real Estate can help solve this problem by giving users a mechanism to quickly photograph and share their real-life environments. The technology behind the Metaverse Reality platform, called RTOS or Real World Approaches to Uniform Synthesis, incorporates image capture. It allows a photographer to snap a screenshot of a world that looks much like a real-life scene and then capture a picture of the area in a virtual world that users can take and view in real time.
“In 3D printers you can take the circuit board and build the machine out of CAD (computer aided design) files,” says Johnson. “In the case of housing, that’s very complex and expensive. It’s not as simple as taking a picture and putting in your specifications.”
Disney has been an early backer of the Metaverse Reality platform. The company invested in a developer to get the platform in the hands of his employees and products.
Michael G. Sievert, executive vice-president and chief strategy officer at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, joined the board of directors in February, according to the Disney CEO Bob Iger’s report on the Walt Disney 2016 Annual Meeting of Shareholders.
Seeclimchag, a former principal digital marketer for the Walt Disney Co. who was instrumental in the success of the “Tron” film franchise, joined the company as VP of technology for the Walt Disney theme parks and resorts division.