How mocap can add a human touch to the expanding metaverse

The metaverse used to be a term that wouldn’t seem out of place on a comic book cover. Now however through further public attention  the metaverse is not as intangible as its ‘beyond the universe’ namesake suggests. Instead, it’s a frontier that we’re already exploring: our real lives transferred to a digital space. 

Motion capture is a valuable tool to help bring ‘fantasy’ to life, to take the metaverse from a playground of technological opportunity to a practical interactive storefront, cinematic experience, or place to do work. Marking itself out as a key mocap trend for 2023, it’s exciting to predict the future of motion capture capabilities in the metaverse world that we’re becoming, very quickly, acquainted with.

From obscure to mainstream

The metaverse remains an enigma to many, its shared name with Meta (formerly the Facebook company) perhaps being an assumed point of reference. The metaverse is simply a 3D computer-generated landscape where we can interact with other users as avatars – representations of ourselves exploring online as we would in real life. Alternatively known as ‘mixed reality’, it is an extension of virtual or augmented reality, a market that amounted to roughly $29 million worldwide by the end of last year. 

Particularly used by gaming communities in its current form, the metaverse is evolving from an advanced work-in-progress that looks poised to become as familiar as a Google search. A number of large brands are experimenting with its opportunities – Disney is even looking to build an entire theme park in the metaverse, giving otherworldly entertainment experiences new meaning. By the end of this decade, it is projected to be used by 700 million people. 

Tomorrow comes today

The next speculative iteration of the internet – Web 3.0 – looks to encourage token-based transactions through blockchain technology, useful for digital artists to sell artworks. Those involved in the ever-increasing digital economy welcome the ease and openness of the metaverse, taking social media interaction to new levels. 

But while that could seem like a niche usage, artists and designers from various creative backgrounds have experimented in the metaverse to promote themselves and sell goods in a digital guise. Video games provide a vast, connected worldwide community, best showcasing the metaverse in motion; to curb the lack of live experiences during the pandemic, bands and DJs (as avatars) performed at music festivals within Minecraft

Elsewhere, Gucci has sold digitized handbags via Roblox. Nike acquired virtual sneaker brand RTFKT to allow users to ‘try-on’ shoes. Hybrid or remote workplaces may benefit from virtual workplaces for formal and informal business meetings. The metaverse has grown from a marketing curiosity to a genuine avenue to interact with digital versions of real-life consumers. 

Giving the metaverse movement

Web 3.0 forerunners Meta announced that avatars will soon have limbs, and while Mark Zuckerberg’s humorous demo was pre-rendered, this was all made possible using motion capture. Integrating mocap technology in the metaverse is a huge step up to give realistic movement to computer-generated people, with Meta’s ‘legs’ development just the start. 

The human experience – taking a 2D webpage into a physical dimension – will rely on adding unique identities and personalities to metaverse participants. While 2020’s in-game concert experiences may have been pre recorded and streamed to satisfy avatar fans, now artists can use mocap suits to play instruments, sing and dance properly as digital versions of themselves in real-time, not dissimilar from a true gig. 

In fact, we have already seen motion capture put into practice to render people as characters in virtual environments. The Collaborative Human Immersive Laboratory in Denver provides a state-of-the-art facility for product designers, engineers, and manufacturers to visualize equipment, manipulate 3D objects, or inspect factory floors using a VR headset, interacting with the space around avatar versions of selves. VFX companies will look to create the same movie magic of a cinema within the metaverse, Weta Workshop (famed for their work on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings franchise) sees the immersive technology as a distinct way to bring new creators into a space, so long as more affordable motion capture systems can be provided. 

Adding ‘humanity’ not only makes the metaverse more genuine and adoptable, but it could be beneficial to peoples’ lives. Metaverse ‘homes’ can currently showcase virtual art collections, but the future for real estate may see the ability to view, buy, and sell properties rendered from their physical form to the web. In the same way, holidaymakers could experience a hotel before opting to vacation there. Some healthcare companies are already developing metaverse facilities to simulate physiotherapy treatments, and banks are aiming to curb fraud and money laundering by conducting identification in the metaverse. As the regulation of decentralized blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, and non-fungible tokens increases, the safety of the online environment also seems to be developing as quickly as the capabilities of artificial intelligence and mixed reality. 

Always looking ahead

“The metaverse is increasingly becoming an extension of one’s reality. Participants around the world freely engage and interact in experiences and events that were previously unimaginable. Motion capture has a front row seat to this exciting new realm.”

Not only does the metaverse pose entertainment opportunities, it looks to become an invaluable tool for companies to build connections with people in a transformed way, already expanding to service a ready and burgeoning customer base. We are keeping an eye on the possibilities that mocap can offer the metaverse space, encouraged that its assistance could benefit industries across the world, or indeed in a new dimension.

The metaverse is just one exciting prospect for the future of motion capture. To find out more, talk to our team today.