IBM has filed a new patent with the goal of instilling confidence in augmented reality (AR) applications when users visit real-world locations.
The patent application, n. 20180311572, was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) last week.
The IBM document describes a solution that "discourages augmented reality players from intruding into unwanted locations," such as private property, culturally sensitive locations, or high-risk areas that could potentially include sites linked to high levels of crime.
AR applications apply an additional virtual layer of "reality" to our environments. It was, perhaps, the emergence and surprising popularity of the app Pokemon Go AR in 2016 that first highlighted the potential of these games, but also the disadvantages.
Users have walked around their hometown on a mission to capture rare pokemon, conquer 'gyms', visit Pokestop and fight each other,
Location-based landmarks, however, also caused residents to break, noise, traffic jams, crowds, and sometimes they brought players to inappropriate areas, such as drug clinics, memorials, and private homes.
Such games, especially if developed on a global scale, can make mistakes by linking physically sensitive positions to highly desirable areas in virtual reality.
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However, the blockchain may be able to alert users when these positions collide.
"The method includes the acquisition of a position of a mobile device using a first sensor of the mobile device and access to a first local database sensitive to the position of the mobile device", according to the patent. "The method also includes retrieving from the first local database of an augmented reality object, obtaining an indication that the position of the mobile device is an undesired position and the modification of the augmented reality object in response to the Indication that the position of the mobile device is an undesirable position. "
Blockchain-based databases will provide records of the positions to be avoided. Also known as distributed ledger technologies, these databases contain records stored on multiple systems, making it very difficult to falsify records and timestamps.
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Not only could this provide a record of areas that should not be visited when playing AR-based games, but this could potentially instill trust in safe areas.
As stated in the patent, "actors or users can profiling a site maliciously for different purposes", such as attacks or sabotage, and having access to more "reliable" sources could be an advantage for players of all ages.
The patent goes further by describing how to use the same blockchain technologies to provide players, regulators and unique cryptographic IDs, in order to maintain ownership of the game history, including the places visited and at what time.
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The Big Blue idea of using the blockchain to safeguard and ring-fence physical positions during AR experiences could potentially capture the interest of future customers eager to explore – and perhaps emulate – the success of games like Pokemon Go, but without experiencing some of the problems that Nintendo has faced.
IBM is not the only technology giant that explores the way in which blockchain can be used for different means than banking, insurance and cryptocurrency. Last month, Sony announced the development of a digital rights management platform (DRM) designed to protect the intellectual copyright of content creators based on blockchain technologies.
The DRM solution aims to track IP including ebooks, music, movies and virtual reality software.