To usher in a new generation of AR and VR devices, a new wireless technology that makes use of the human body as a conductor could help this become a reality.

Bringing the metaverse into our everyday life will require something sleeker than what we currently have today as virtual reality (VR) headsets. Although the dream is to get devices that are similar to normal-looking glasses to power an always-on digital experience, we must also accept the harsh reality that power-hungry processors and chunky batteries will require either extra bulk or compromised features.

On the bright side of things, Ixana – a relatively new company, believes it has provided the solution to this problem by coming up with a way to construct a new generation of such personal devices that will be much more power efficient than what we have today, and will also be unveiling a developer platform at CES 2023 so others can start building applications for its tech. The foundation laid for Ixana’s innovation is a new way to transmit information: through the human body itself.

Anyways, it is important to note that the transmission won’t go through the body directly, but the electromagnetic field surrounding it. This technology, identified as Wi-R, takes advantage of the body’s natural ability as a conductor. A device either worn or held can transmit incredible volumes of data over this field efficiently — The company claims it uses a hundredth of the energy typically found in conventional wireless connections like Bluetooth or WiFi.

The concept of the metaverse is created by the combination of virtual reality, augmented reality (AR), and the internet to form an immersive digital world.

The idea is that with your smartphone in your pocket — which already has a performant processor and hefty battery — you can power the headset on your face, transmitting all the data across the surface of your body, without having to feel a thing.

The Wi-R technology is capable of pushing four compressed HD video streams simultaneously, according to Ixana.

Co-founder and CTO of Ixana, Shreyas Sen says “Everybody is trying to cram the computing in [VR glasses],” And it requires a large amount of power, so it looks big. In the future, it is imagined that technology will be readily available around us that gives similar capability in a distributed network around your body.”

The Wi-R tech was tried out at CES. A pair of headphones containing a Wi-R chip was tried on, and when the hand of the person with the headphones on moved closer to a special cellphone, music started playing clearly from the phone. And when the hand is moved away, the music stops, this may not seem impressive until you realize that neither the headphones nor the phone case is connected via any kind of wireless connection — the entire data was transmitted through the electromagnetic field of the human body.

Now imagine that type of connection carrying video, AR, VR, and much more. Think of everything from your sunglasses to your smartwatch all continuously communicating with each other without having to use a radio.

There are some issues that Wi-R tech cannot resolve. Ranging from the energy demand from screens and haptics, also the safety and security implications of transmitting data through a body need to be considered thoroughly as well.

Also, the never-ending debate surrounding whether cellphone radiation is harmful or not — if Wi-R ever catches on, it is sure to have its doubters.

The hurdles ahead are realistic and might take about 3-5 years to be surmounted but it is very much possible. Because with this release, the long-term dream of the tech industry to build powerful augmented-reality eyeglasses — might finally start to come into focus.

Featured Image Source: IndustryWired

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