Augmented and Virtual Reality Shaping Patent Landscape in India

by July 18, 2019 0 comments

Despite of the early messengers of the Augmented and Virtual Reality technology, Google Glass and Facebook’s Oculus’s popularity inching ominously close to its grave, the tech world is still sanguine about these technologies being a prominent player and is busy digging the autopsy to find out areas of improvement to bring them back to the ring with full force.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented reality (AR) – The difference

The semantic confusion regarding the meaning of AR and VR is a never-ending tale. To the less informed, they both often sound the same, but the difference is huge. While both of them have the superpower to change our perception of the world, the difference lies in our presence amidst that perception.

Broadly saying, virtual reality (VR) speaks about a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that users can engage within real-time. Virtual reality transfers the user to someplace else through closed visors or goggles by blocking out the real world around us.

A subset of virtual reality, the Augmented Reality (AR) however enhances a user’s physical environment by adding something to it in real-time and often uses clear visors to do the same. Niantic’s mobile app games like Pokemon Go and the recently launched Harry Potter: Wizards Unite as well as Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook’s story filters are some of the well-known examples of AR.

While the AR is already quite widespread, the augmentation of the true VR technology to the market is yet to happen. This difference in market outreach takes birth from the fact that AR, in spite of being less immersive, provides more freedom to the user as well as to the marketers as it doesn’t require a head-mounted display and will be powered at the scale of smartphones.

Augmented and Virtual Reality: The current scenario in the Indian market

India has witnessed almost 170 AR/VR start-ups in the past few years, 60 percent of which have already set up shops in Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai.

One of the most interesting start-ups working on AR in India is Preksh. They have launched world’s first ‘Visual Commerce’ platform allowing consumers to ‘walk-through’ a 360-degree view of stores, ‘pick’ products off the shelves and purchase them, all while sitting in their comfort zones. The company has filed two patents for the same.

Other prominent start-ups include Merxius Software, allowing people to virtually study an airplane engine and LoopReality, whose solution takes the interview procedure a notch ahead by allowing to assess a potential employee’s strengths and weaknesses under stressful conditions by putting them in various environments providing an accurate report of a person’s physiological and psychological responses.

Online real estate websites like Elara Technologies, MagicBricks, Housing, and ShilpMIS have developed ways to allow give visitors a VR tour of the homes or displaying 3D models of flats or buildings to the potential investors.

The Intellectual Reality

Although, India doesn’t make it to the top order a significant number of patents are currently being filed in the domain. Started in 2010, the domain has seen a spike increase in the number of patent filings since the year 2016, almost double in the last three to four years. This advertises the fact that, even though the commercial use of the technologies has still not folded the wheels, the interest in developing the technologies is still taking a flight. The patents filed in the domain typically, claim hardware like display screens, helmets, etc. or software needed to generate those virtual environments or both.

Indian entertainment company Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEE) has recently secured a US patent that allows the television audience to convert television content into a five-senses experience. The company plans at launching centers in Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru soon to showcase the technology and bring it to India.

Microsoft was recently granted a patent by the IPO named, “A METHOD FOR GENERATING AN AVATAR AND A SYSTEM THEREOF”. This patent is related to computer gaming, specifically the ones based on racing in which multiple people compete against each other.

Talking about racing, the real race going on, is the one among all the behemoth companies trying to nab every advancement in the technology that other companies might try to patent.

The Reality road-blocks

User experience is considered as the top barrier to the wide-scale adoption of both AR and VR. For VR, the second biggest hindrance is the cost involved in generating the virtual world polygons as well as the high-tech hardware which serves as the gateway to it. When it comes to AR, content is more of a greater threat as compared to cost, since the technology is directly linked to smartphones. Also, as more and more aspects of the technology are getting patented, AR/VR landscape is becoming less welcoming to developers owing to the threat of legal and regulatory risks involved with the infringement of patents.

Conclusion

According to reports, despite being in its nascent stages in India, the AR and VR technology is estimated to see compound annual growth of 76 % in the coming years in India. And while gaming seems like the only obvious case of the development of the technology, it is predicted that, in the coming years, the three most prominent markets for AR/VR technologies would be entertainment, manufacturing, and healthcare. The education sector too has started picking up VR as companies like Byju’s are using the technology to bring new scope to experiential learning. Also, with the technology being available in a few apps in smartphones priced as low as 5000 INR, it is predicted that in the next four years, 30-40% of the apps will be AR-based helping achieve the goal of mass adoption of the technology. Also, the growing threat of legal action shows that the market is maturing and more companies are getting into the market. And with all of this going on at the front screen, the background will see a strengthened patent landscape for the country as all of this growth would be accompanied by a surge in the patent filings in the domain, driving India to a non-virtual reality where it would stand among the big players of the game.

Authored by: Amit Aggarwal, Co-Founder, and Director, Effectual Services

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