As the concept of augmented reality begins to take ahold of the world in one shape or another, the inevitable has happened: the battle for ownership of virtual land has begun. A lawsuit, filed in California, claims that Niantic has no legal right to place virtual items on virtual land in a virtual world that they created over top of reality. The suit comes on behalf of New Jersey resident Jeffrey Marder, who is annoyed that people playing Niantic's popular Pokémon GO game have been hanging around his house and, in a few instances, have asked his permission to access his yard to chase a Pokémon.
Now, we are all annoyed when someone knocks on our door unsolicited. However, I have personally never discussed with a lawyer the possibility of filing a class action suit against Jehovah's Witnesses. That's because, as annoying as it may be, they aren't doing anything inherently wrong, simply annoying. Now, if they showed up in my back yard and started walking around preaching to the birds, then we might have a problem, because I have a reasonable expectation of privacy there. However, I do not have any expectation of privacy on a public street, for example.
In this particular case, what is driving people to his area are virtual creatures who happen to have wandered into the area based on a computer algorithm in a virtual plane of existence, in which his land does not exist. However, since his land and the virtual land exist at the same position in reality, there is definitely an interesting intersection to consider.
It seems that the ownership of the virtual land is entirely in Niantic's hands, as the built the computer system that created and maintains it. Because of that, the company can do with it as they please. However, players of the game cannot violate physical property in their hunt for virtual property. That means that people cannot enter this man's yard without his permission to hunt Pokémon on his land.
In stark contrast to that reasoning, the complains claims,
It became apparent that Niantic had designated properties as Pokéstops and Pokémon gyms without seeking permission from property owners and with flagrant disregard for the foreseeable consequences of doing so.
The intentional, unauthorized placement of Pokéstops and Pokémon gyms on or near the property of Plaintiff and other members of the proposed class constitutes a continuing invasion of the class members' use and enjoyment of their land, committed by Niantic on an ongoing basis for Defendants' profit.
This case could set the scene for current and future AR projects, including Niantic's other game, Ingress, as well as other products like Google Maps Street View and Zillow, which also offer information about, and views of, private property without owners' permission.
The takeaway here, for now, is that you should heed Niantic's suggestion and "adhere to the rules of the human world."
T-Mobile has had a difficult relationship with reality in their past. In 2010, the company
rebranded their 3G+ network as 4G, which was not exactly true. While it had speeds that were close to or within the speeds of 4G, the network itself was not that. Either way, the reality and the marketing were not the same. Since then, John Legere, the company CEO, has changed the company almost entirely.
T-Mobile has introduced new features and closed out old business practices. Binge On allows customers to use certain services, including
Pokémon GO, without it affecting your data usage. They did away with traditional contracts and went with a direct hardware lease program. This has caused the rest of the industry to panic more than once, having to create their own versions of programs at the last moment.
Let's face it, all of that is great, but if the network is bad, none of it matters. Recently, though, the company has been focusing on building their network power, as well. In fact, on several tests, including our friends at
Tom's Guide, T-Mobile's speeds are the fastest in the industry. Now, if only the physical coverage was better, right?
That is the subject of this week's announcement from T-Mobile. Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray said of their network compared to Verizon,
We plan to materially close the gap by the end of the year.
That is quite a financial commitment. Within 12 months, they intend to be within coverage range of Verizon Wireless. Currently, T-Mobile claims that 311 million Americans can currently use their network successfully. While the numbers are close to those of VZW, the additional coverage that Verizon Wireless offers also cover large areas of under-populated land. That means that, to cover the additional, missing customers, it will require larger network expansion than hitting the suburbs of Seattle.
Can T-Mobile manage to catch the two biggest players in the industry? Let us know in the comments.
If you have not yet watched, or at least started watching Netflix's original series
Stranger Things, you are definitely in the minority. The program has been one of the most talked about series on social media, and there doesn't seem to be anyone saying anything other than "Wow."
This sentiment, and people's tendency to watch the whole thing in a single sitting, myself included, has led to Netflix already renewing the series for a second season. This will come as no surprise to anyone watching, as the end of the last episode certainly setup for more story. In fact, several places throughout the other episodes have teased what could be the next season's storyline and potentially the enemy.
While we don't know a lot about that, what we do know about is how the next season will play out. Matt and Ross Duffer, the series creators, said to look for the next season to feel more like a sequel than a direct continuation. Most series go from season to season without much time passing and without a lot of story happening away from the cameras, but that isn't how a sequel works.
Ross Duffer explained to Variety,
There's a lot there we don't know or understand. Even with 'The Upside Down,' we have a 30-page document that is pretty intricate in terms of what it all means, and where this monster actually came from, and why aren't there more monsters - we have all this stuff that we just didn't have time for, or we didn't feel like we needed to get into in season one, because of the main tension of Will. We have that whole other world that we haven't fully explored in this season, and that was very purposeful.
Will we get all of the answers we seek in the next season? Hopefully not. If we did, that would mean that there would be no season 3. This universe that has been created is rich with a lot of potential, and has the ability to run for a long time, especially if they continue to draw inspiration from Dungeons & Dragons, as they have so far. I, for one, look forward to many future seasons of one of the best written and researched series in a long time.