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Future titans of the Metaverse: Part 10

In this ongoing series we explore the past, present and potential future of the largest players in the Metaverse. Today, we’re taking a look at Japanese multinational conglomerate Sony.

Founded in 1946 by Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita as Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation, later becoming Sony Corporation in 1958, Sony is a multinational corporation based in Japan that specializes in the design, development, and manufacture of consumer electronics, video games, and entertainment products.

In the 1960s, Sony introduced several iconic products, such as the first transistor television, the first portable transistor radio, and the Betamax video cassette recorder. During the 1970s and 1980s, the company continued to release innovative products, including the Walkman portable cassette player, the Discman portable CD player, and the first commercially available compact disc player.

In the 1990s, Sony expanded its product line to include the PlayStation video game console, which quickly became one of the company's most successful products. In the 2000s, Sony introduced the PlayStation 2, the best-selling console of all time, PlayStation Portable, and PlayStation 3, as well as the Blu-ray disc format.

In recent years, Sony has continued to focus on the development of new technology, such as virtual reality, and has also expanded its presence in the music and film industries through acquisitions such as Columbia Pictures and Sony Music Entertainment. In April 2019, Sony’s PlayStation 5, or PS5, was announced as a successor to the PlayStation 4, the first in the PlayStation series to offer virtual reality (VR) capability.

The Sony PlayStation VR (PS VR) is a virtual reality headset for use with the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 game consoles. First launched in 2016, the headset features a 1080p resolution OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and a 100-degree field of view. The PS VR also includes a set of motion controllers called PlayStation Move, which are used to track the player's movement and provide a more immersive gaming experience. The headset is designed to be lightweight and comfortable, with adjustable straps and a removable faceplate for easy cleaning. It is also compatible with a wide variety of games and other media, including movies and music.

So where does the Metaverse feature in Sony’s plans? Alongside it’s already established footing in VR gaming, comes the recent announcement of Sony’s Mocopi product. A play on the term motion capture, or “mocap”, Mocopi is a set of six motion-tracking bands worn on your hands, feet, back and head. The product’s aim is to let users track their body movements in order to create videos, or operate avatars in real time, with Metaverse apps like VRChat. According to Sony, “by utilizing our proprietary algorithm, 'Mocopi' realizes highly accurate motion measurement with a small number of sensors, freeing VTubers and creators involved in movie and animation production from time and place constraints."

Sony has also provided a Software Development Kit (SDK) for Mocopi that lets developers import motion data into 3D animation applications, and link motion capture data with metaverse services, along with the real-time development platform Unity and Autodesk's animation and motion capture application MotionBuilder. According to Sony: "this SDK expands the use of motion data for activities such as full-body tracking, thereby facilitating the development of new services in areas such as the metaverse and fitness."

Sony, alongside the likes of with Meta, Microsoft, Huawei, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Epic Games, Unity and Adobe, is member of the Metaverse Standards Forum, which seeks to: “coordinate requirements and resources to foster the creation and evolution of standards within already existing organizations.”. In April last year Sony announced a $1 billion investment in LEGO and Epic Games family friendly Metaverse, although news on progress since then has been conspicuous by its absence.

Sony will likely double down on its PSVR headset range and virtual reality gaming opportunities. Sony’s recent acquisition of American video game developer Bungie, which it bought for $3.6 billion back in February last year, gives it access to Bungie-owned IP including the highly popular, massively multiplayer online game Destiny 2. It will also focus on opportunities for music, movies and television shows in the Metaverse.

On this a number of Sony artists have already made their Metaverse performance debut, including Lil Nas X, 24KGoldn, Zara Larsson, and Kenshi Yonezu. On movies and television shows, recent Sony Pictures successes include Spider-Man: No Way Home, Uncharted, and the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba television series. Sony may be planning similar moves to Bandai Namco, which is seeking to maximize the value of its intangible assets, including patents, trade secrets, copyright and trademarks, through its IP axis strategy. For Sony this might include a Demon Slayer Metaverse, that combines Demon Slayer games, music, movies, along with limited-edition digital assets, such as Demon Slayer-based avatar costumes, and the purchase of physical assets, such as figurines. Sony has also partnered with Manchester City Football Club to create immersive digital fan experiences.

Don’t forget to leave a comment below! And check out the previous part of our Future titans of the Metaverse series:

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