One way to see the future? Track corporate patents

Trends member Neer Sharma has been rounding up the best corporate patents every week for his must-read newsletter Patent Drop.

Here are some of Sharma’s recent findings:

Facebook’s shared VR spaces

One concern about VR is that it can cause social isolation because… well, you’re wearing a frickin’ headset on your face.

Facebook has a patent application where multiple people wearing VR headsets in the same location can interact in the same AR environment.

The key feature: Data from each person’s headset can be shared to coordinate the individuals and help render the virtual environment. This is a cheaper and simpler approach than the existing method, which requires elaborate camera setups.

Shopify wants to use your phone to measure body size

Poor-fitting clothes are a huge problem in ecommerce for a few reasons: 1) customers get pissed when sh*t doesn’t fit; and 2) returns are expensive. 

Shopify is trying to address these issues by using augmented reality — via your smartphone’s camera — to get accurate measurements for clothing. 

Interestingly, the technology can also account for how different types of clothing material fit the body. With measurements in place, the tool would let users virtually “try on” clothes.

Microsoft wants to send you ‘wellness’ insights 

Microsoft filed for a patent that tracks your biometric data (e.g., heart rate) and pairs it with work-related activities. 

If your blood pressure or heart rate rises from spending too much time on emails or in meetings, Microsoft will surface recommendations to help you address the issues. 

On the one hand, that sounds helpful… but also dystopian AF.

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