Let’s say you’re in New York, walking by the Empire State building wearing your Magic Leap One. You look up and see the hot new Banksy virtual graffiti installation.  For this to be realized, someone will have to construct a virtual Empire State Building first.

Do you want to see what your neighborhood looked like 50 years ago, or might look like in 50 years?  Someone has to create a virtual rendering of your ‘hood, both with today’s imagery and archival images from the past.

Would you like to leave a friend a virtual note at a favorite meeting spot, to be seen when he or she next wanders by?  You’ll need a virtual version of that location in order to create a layer on top of it.

Over the last few months, I’ve been seeing more and more discussion of the platform we might call the persistent virtual world. The first layer of this must be a copy of the real, physical world on which we can then build layer upon layer.

This concept is on everyone’s minds and leading in every digital news source. My client, Ori Inbar, founder of Super Ventures and their sister company AugmentedReality.org, dubbed it “the AR Cloud.”  Magic Leap founder (and my former boss) Rony Abovitz has been talking about “the Magicverse.”  The March 2019 Wired Magazine cover story by Kevin Kelly is titled, “the Mirror World.”  Read the article.  The concept is that we are in the process of creating a digital copy of the world and all of its component parts. We are doing this to feed our connectedness to the real world, and vice versa.  I’m not sure where I first heard the term Spatial Web, but I’m going to use it here because it serves as a useful metaphor for what we’re creating – the revolutionary next generation of the World Wide Web.

To paint, write on, bring to life, or otherwise add a layer to this virtual world, it first must exist.  It’s the largest construction project in the history of the world.  Because, it IS the entire world, and beyond. This is not a Manhattan Project or moonshot, built by a nation-state, or even a global scientific community.  Rather, it is currently being built by all of us.  Some more intentionally than others.  But, ultimately, every time you capture an image on your phone and upload it to the cloud; every time you use a sensor on a location and share the data; it becomes part of this massive database, which, once collated, becomes the platform for the Spatial Web.

The technological requirements are massive.

  • Computing power will need to be robust, to say the least
  • Data storage — CGI, video and audio files, leading the way — will dwarf everything we have thus far built
  • Connectivity, beginning with the 5G rollout, will be required everywhere for an effective, useful experience
  • Cameras and other sensors will need continual evolution
  • Software development will be required to (1) create the Spatial Web as a seamless platform, (2) enable and encourage creation of virtual objects living in the Spatial Web, and (3) create the ultimate experiences we, the end users, will view/experience.
  • Use of blockchain technologies will be needed for privacy, ownership, and other issues.

What does this mean for business over the next decade and beyond?  A whole new world to grow into.  Tremendous opportunities to build, create, connect, and influence.  There will be massive needs to fill, in hardware, software, storytelling, and who knows what else!

What will be required from a legal standpoint?  Here’s just a sampling, and we’ll undoubtedly explore this more fully in future posts.

  • Intellectual Property: Data will be collected by all of us; who will own it?  What rights will you need to use the Hollywood Sign as part of an experience you’ve created, or a note you’ve left behind?  This gets into copyrights, trademarks, rights of publicity, and, of course —
  • Privacy issues: The mechanism for creating the data contained in the Spatial Web will be, in large part, capturing images. If my face is included in someone else’s scan, do I have the right to force them to delete it?  How might I even know it has happened?
  • Property rights vs. speech rights: When your tattoo shop tattoos “crape diem” on your chest, can you post a negative review on the virtual wall in front of their shop?  As the virtual wall is a digital copy of the actual storefront of the shop, who has the right to determine what can be placed on it?
  • Data collection: Europe and California have just made data collection, ownership, and privacy relating to digital data a whole lot more complicated. Expect that, as this data becomes more immersive and more directly related to you, this issue will grow in complexity.
  • Reputation issues: Back to the tattoo shop: Three of what are probably a million issues here: 1) does anybody have the right to post something and 2) what if what is posted is false and damaging? 3) what kind of notification to the shop might be required?

Conclusion?  The construction of the Spatial Web is happening now.  It’s going to take years, if not decades, to build out.  But the implications are here today, and pioneers are already blazing the trail.  If you’re diving in, let us know how we can help!

Feedback?  Feel free to reach out to me at mleventhal@holmesweinberg.com, or through the comments on Facebook or LinkedIn, wherever you see this.