Ever since Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta, the word of the industry has been Metaverse. And, while many people don't know exactly what that means, every company wants to be part of it. There have been a number of half-hearted attempts, including from Meta and Microsoft, but Canon has a different take on the concept that seems to show a lot of promise.
The metaverse is an ever-evolving digital universe that blends physical and virtual worlds. It is a place where diverse communities of people, companies, and governments interact with each other in a never seen way. In the metaverse, users are able to collaborate, create and explore new possibilities in a virtual world that feels alive. The boundary between the digital world and the real world continues to blur as technology advances, allowing people to engage with content on an unprecedented level.
By connecting people on an emotional level through interactive experiences, the metaverse helps build strong relationships and bonds that can be carried into our everyday lives. From virtual shops to virtual education centers with AI tutors, the opportunities for growth provided by the metaverse are limitless - providing us with infinite possibilities for exploration and creativity.
Kokomo, which is a project of Canon (yes, the camera company), is intended to be a communication platform first and foremost. The company decided that, rather than trying to be everything to everyone, they would focus on what people need and want the most - a solid way to communicate with their friends, families, and colleagues even when they are not together.
The company decided that Kokomo should be a video calling and conferencing platform that brings people together in an engaging way. The fully immersive environment allows you to see the people you are talking to in a virtual world, but in a way that looks and feels more real than other platforms.
This is accomplished by not just relying on the hardware of the virtual reality system, but by augmenting it using other equipment. This is where Canon's camera background really comes into play. Using an external camera, the system is able to track full range of motion and replicate it within the environment.
If you've guessed that Kokomo uses full body avatars, then you'd be right. unlike so many of the other platforms, Kokomo shows a full person as the avatar, because motion tracking allows for greater control over a full body. You don't have to worry about thinking about moving your avatar - you can just talk and enjoy your time with your friends while letting Canon makes the experience more real.
Kokomo is available soon from the Meta Quest App Lab as a free download in early access. The company intends to keep the platform free for users with in-app premium content available for those who want to expand their experience. To learn more about Kokomo and to get an alert when the platform goes live, you can head to the project's website.
Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.
Daniele is a software engineer at Lockheed Martin after graduating from Florida Polytechnic University. In High School, she was introduced to the science and technology world through the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), a robotics foundation where students of varying ages can compete through tasks that their robots perform. With help from mentors she met through FIRST, she became interested in programming and developing. Today, Daniele is a special events host for F5 Live: Refreshing Technology and PLUGHITZ Live Presents and a co-host for both The New Product Launchpad and FIRST Looks.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.