At CES, Hyundai sees Boston Dynamics robots

When Hyundai bought robot maker Boston Dynamics last year, we weren’t sure what to expect from the pair. At CES 2022, the automaker’s intentions for cutting-edge robotics technology became very clear, as it outlined a vision for the metaverse in which robots can be used to bridge the physical and virtual worlds.

The concept of the Metaverse, essentially a virtual social space, gained ground in 2021 thanks to a whole-hearted embrace of it by Facebook’s parent company, Meta. And with the metaverse hailed as the next internet, you can bet each tech company is working out how it will harness and contribute to the space. Hyundai is no exception.

At the Las Vegas Tech Show on Tuesday, the South Korean company revealed its mission to make space, time and distance irrelevant with the help of robots. When you’re in the same space, the robots will act as proxies or “digital twins” by becoming your eyes, ears, and other sense organs, and allowing you to interact with the bots’ surrounding environment. Will allow you to experience another place.

In a video that Hyundai showed during its CES event, the company gave an example of how it envisions this to work. The clip shows a young girl and her father exploring Mars in the metaverse using the Boston Dynamics Spot robot that would physically exist on the Red Planet.

The idea is that the spot could map the data and imagery to allow the couple to experience the landscape of Mars in real time. The robot can take measurements, including the wind speed of a sandstorm and the temperature of the rock, to allow replication of those sensory aspects on Earth – technologies that will let you feel the blast of Martian air on your face or the chill at your fingertips. Mars stone.

“Taking a step beyond the immersive ‘Be There’ proxy experience that the Metaverse provides, the robot will become an extension of our own physical senses, allowing us to reshape and enrich our daily lives,” said Hyundai Motor Chairman of the group, Chang Song, said in a statement.

How these technologies work is not fully explained by Hyundai, which imagines it all happening within a futuristic Metaverse platform that is free from the limitations of current VR headsets. The company is focusing more on helping us understand the role robots play in growing these metaverse spaces in the future.

In a press release, Hyundai cited the example of enabling workers to remotely control industrial robots from within the Metaverse. It also envisions that you can use the robot to feed and hug your pet, providing meaningful interaction for both parties when you are away from home. Whether a cat or dog will willingly accept a hug from a robot — even a robot that feeds it — may be a question for another day.

As many tech companies tout metaverse concepts that promise new ways of interacting virtually, existing virtual worlds are beginning to implement new policies to tackle the behavioral problems that are already occurring.

AltspaceVR, a social virtual world platform acquired by Microsoft in 2017, is making changes to protect visitors. Some of those changes include closing off public spaces that AltspaceVR has used as common areas over the years.

Changes are being made to curb harassment concerns in VR, an area of ​​growing concern as more companies open up larger social spaces in pursuit of a collaborative metaverse.

The news was announced Wednesday in a blog post by Microsoft’s Alex Kipman, who leads Microsoft’s mixed reality efforts.

“As platforms like AltspaceVR evolve, it is important that we look at existing experiences and evaluate whether they are adequately meeting customer needs today and in the future,” Kipman writes. “This includes helping people better connect with others who have common interests, as well as ensuring that the spaces they use are safe from inappropriate behavior and harassment.”

Most notably, AltspaceVR is removing all of its hosted social space hubs, which include its campfire, news, and entertainment commons spaces. These areas were by default open areas where avatars could freely meet. While other open social worlds and events are also present in AltspaceVR, AltspaceVR’s removal of hub areas means less space to go through, and may indicate a more event-focused approach in the future. Other public spaces may exist, but they have to be created by others.

AltspaceVR is having its personal border bubbles and camera-muting features turned on by default when the app is launched. Personal boundary bubbles, which are intended to limit how close another avatar can be, is a feature that is also being added to competing meta’s Horizon Worlds VR social space.

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