Hello. In this video, we're going to explore some of the research and development, or R&D, that's happening as we build the metaverse. Have you ever played with a View-Master? You know, the plastic toy you put on your face, and then you could cycle through 3D images of scenes from movies and cartoons? Now, that experience doesn't quite compare to putting on a VR headset, but it shows us that 3D experiences have long existed before the metaverse was conceived. In fact, VR headsets have been around since the 1970s, with the first commercial sets becoming available in the mid-1990s. Hardware like VR headsets and AR glasses are the most immersive way to engage with the metaverse. As companies and individuals work to build the fully realized metaverse, one key area for R&D is improving and building upon these technologies. Let's take the Meta Quest as an example. The first version was called the Oculus Rift, and it was created by Palmer Luckey and released in 2013. Bulky and heavy, it required a direct connection to a PC. It had a low refresh rate and low per-eye resolution, which basically refers to the visual quality you experience when wearing it. Only five years later, in 2018, Meta released the first generation of the Quest. It was lighter, had much better optics, and was a stand-alone, meaning it didn't require a PC in order to use it. As you can see, technology evolves quickly. As the metaverse continues to grow, companies are focused on building VR headsets that are lighter, have better optics, and — this is a big one — cheaper. As we've discussed, metaverse hardware can be prohibitively expensive. The less it costs, the more people will be able to afford it, and the more people who engage in the metaverse, the more diverse and inclusive it will be. Another area of focus for research and development in the metaverse is software. Game engines and platforms continue to improve, making them easier to use and accessible to more developers and creators. Rove makes it easy for users to create their own 3D spaces. Shopify offers e-commerce tool kits for XR content, and the Omniverse platform from NVIDIA lets designers, developers, and artists build virtual worlds using leading software applications. While we need hardware and software to engage with the metaverse, it's the experiences we'll have and the spaces we'll visit that we're probably most interested in, right? Developers and creators are thinking about what content and what kind of interactions work best in the metaverse. That's the human interaction component of metaverse R&D, and there's a lot to be excited about. We already know that we can see, hear, and move in the metaverse, but have you thought about what it would be like to experience other senses? Well, there's a company called OVR Technology that's exploring what smell might be like in the metaverse. The OVR part stands for Olfactory Virtual Reality. Research has shown that humans make deep connections to emotion and memory through scent. And OVR believes that by applying scent to VR experiences by attaching their scent device to VR headsets will boost mental health and well-being. How about touch? While being with someone in an immersive virtual space can make us emotionally feel like we're together, we can't actually experience physical touch unless we have haptic equipment like a suit or gloves. You might be familiar with a movie version of this from the film Ready Player One. Companies like Teslasuit and Actronika are building haptic devices that allow users to experience touch in the metaverse. In 2021, a market report from Technavio predicted that the haptics market will grow by nearly $16 billion by 2025. Research and development in the metaverse is also focusing on addressing important issues like medical treatments, mental health, and pain management. For more than two decades, specialists Hunter Hoffman and David Patterson from the University of Washington have been using VR as a way to reduce acute pain, including through an experience called SnowWorld. And it works. A study from the Annals of Behavioral Medicine showed that burn patients reported 35-50% pain reduction while engaging in immersive VR. As head of the Biobehavioral Pain Laboratory at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Dr. Jeffrey Gold uses his Bear Blast intervention when treating young patients during bandage changes, IV placement, and blood draws. Did you know that according to the World Bank, about 15% of the world's population has some form of disability? That equates to one billion people. And that means that the metaverse must be built with accessibility in mind, by which we mean not only that users with disabilities need ways of accessing metaverse spaces, but also that they should have the option to outfit their avatars with relevant accessibility equipment. Giselle Mota, the creator of NFTY Collective, is driven by a mission to make disability representation of focus of the metaverse. Believing that "people with disabilities or diverse abilities should have the choice to access, be represented in, and participate as anyone else would" in the metaverse, the organization is creating The Unhidden Collection, avatars that accurately represent both seen and unseen disabilities. Investors are pouring billions of dollars into metaverse R&D. In June of 2022, Translucia Global Innovation in Thailand announced a partnership with the Australian software development firm Two Bulls to build a metaverse research and development center in Melbourne. In the fall of 2021, Unity Software spent more than $1 billion to acquire Digital VFX company Weta Digital. In early 2022, Qualcomm Technologies. Inc. opened six extended reality labs across Europe. And in the summer of 2022, the government of Shanghai announced a 10 billion yuan fund — that's almost $1.5 billion — dedicated to metaverse development. Venture capitalists and angel investors are also funding tech companies and creators large and small. Software is just computer code. A VR headset is just a chunk of plastic with some microchips in it. But when we combine these things with content with rich, immersive experiences that allow us to learn, connect, and engage in new ways, we see the potential of the metaverse. Everyone involved with building the metaverse learns from each new development, pushing each other to forge new pathways into our collective virtual future. Up next, you'll get a look at some of the incredible things happening in higher education as you explore enterprise and university partnerships. See you on campus!