The Financial Times analyzed hundreds of US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) applications filed by Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook). This helped understand what technologies the company plans to use to develop the Metaverse, as well as ways to monetize it through targeted advertising and sponsored content, which reflects Meta’s existing business model, which is based on an advertising business with annual sales of $85 billion .
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his intention to spend $10 billion annually over the next decade to create a virtual world of the Metaverse. At present, the company is actively developing and patenting various technologies, including those that use people’s biometric data to enhance the effect of virtual world realism and ensure the smooth movement of users’ digital avatars.
At the same time, even at the current stage, the company does not forget about its own benefit and is working on various ways of making money, many of which are somehow related to the well-known meta-advertising segment. While the existence of patents does not mean that the company will necessarily put them into practice, they do give a better insight into the future development of Meta’s business.
The Metaverse will feature a “virtual store” that will offer a variety of products, including digital replicas of real-world products that are custom-made by their manufacturers. “For us, the business model in the Metaverse is trade-centric. Advertising clearly plays a role in this.”, said Nick Klegg, Meta’s head of international relations, recently.
Some of Meta’s recent patents relate to eye-tracking and facial expression technologies primarily intended for use in a VR headset, where they are implemented through the use of miniature cameras and sensors. Various functions can be implemented in this way, for example a more realistic or detailed image can be displayed to the user at the points at which his gaze is directed.
One of Meta’s patents, filed Jan. 4, describes a system for tracking a user’s facial expressions through a VR helmet for “Adaptation of media content” based on the data collected. There is also a patent for “portable magnetic sensor system”, which is placed on the user’s body to track their movements and posture. This patent is accompanied by a sketch in which the user wears sensors and appears in the virtual universe as a sword-wielding knight. Another patent proposes an “avatar personalization engine” designed to create 3D virtual avatars based on user photos, including using a tool called “skin replicator”.
“Meta aims to sculpt you into every pore, every strand of hair, every micro-movement. The goal is to create 3D copies of people, places and things that are so hyper-realistic that they are indistinguishable from reality. After that, the platform is used as an intermediary for any services.”, said attorney Noelle Martin, who has worked with Meta for a long time.
Some of the patents will likely help Meta find new sources of income amid fears that a younger audience is losing interest in the company’s core products, such as social networking site Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg has stated that his company has no intention of increasing the price of VR headsets and generating revenue in the Metaverse through advertising and the sale of digital goods and services.
One of Meta’s most recent patents describes technology for personalized advertising in augmented reality that takes into account age, gender, interests and more “how the user interacts with the social media platform”. Another patent describes technology that allows third-party companies to sponsor the creation of various virtual items in the Metaverse for later sale. The patents show that Meta intends to offer even more personalized advertising in the virtual world than the company’s existing products already offer.