Friday, July 28, 2017
ALTSPACEVR & VIRTUAL IMMERSION TECHNOLOGIES
AltspaceVR, one of the pioneering VR companies, which runs a virtual meeting place (like those in Caprica... but Caprica's TV avatars --played by live actors of course -- are better), announced it will shut down on August 3. The immediate reason is that they have run out of cash and have been unable to close another round of funding.
Their "A Very Sad Goodbye" blog post (https://altvr.com/blog/) says they have around 35,000 monthly users with an average connect time of 35 minutes. And big events have had as many as a thousand participants. They also say they have a lot of technology they hope to find a use for.
One factor may be a patent infringement lawsuit filed by Virtual Immersion Technologies (VIT), based on a comprehensive patent filed in 2000 (yes, 17 years ago) for "An Interactive Virtual Reality Performance Theater Entertainment System". VIT is now suing lots of companies (at least 10 so far) for patent infringement, including NBCUniversal, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, AltspaceVR, and Hyatt Hotels.
The patent is at https://www.google.com/patents/US6409599. Anyone interested in VR, AR and MR applications with live participants should probably be aware of this patent. (and others???)
This may be the start of a wave of patent litigation between modern applications of VR, AR and MR, and companies with patents filed during earlier waves of interest in VR.