As Apple continues to prepare for the release of its mixed reality headset -- the Apple Vision Pro -- Patently Apple spotted the company's filing of a patent to make removing unwanted graffiti easier in the metaverse.
In the patent application, Apple proposes a scenario in which an avatar enters another one's digital home and virtually vandalizes it with spray paint. To mitigate this offense, the vandal's victim can virtually erase the graffiti.
Apple has a history of filing patents to help virtual reality users feel protected from nefarious avatars while in the metaverse. In 2021, Apple filed a patent to protect users from intruders and digital bullies.
The new patent would allow users to make intruders disappear from their virtual abode. The patent states, "When one or more avatar social interaction criteria are breached, the avatars and/or content in connection with behaviors of the avatars can become partially invisible, fully invisible, or anywhere in between along a spectrum of attenuation."
If a user decorates their digital home carefully, it can be highly aggravating for a stranger to walk in and vandalize their space. And Apple agrees.
Patents like the ones Apple has filed may seem tedious, but these provisions are critical to keeping more mature users engaged in digital worlds. Although anyone of any age can misbehave, harassment and bullying in the metaverse are especially common among children. Meta's flagship VR app, Horizon Worlds, has become overrun with underage users.
Adults are just as likely to subject fellow avatars in the metaverse to uncomfortable situations, and VR experiences are supposed to feel incredibly real. If users are having trouble differentiating virtual harassment from real harassment, tech companies may find it challenging to keep users involved and engaged.