Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, has promised a united metaverse, a seamless expanse of 3D online environments that work together regardless of who constructed them. But, if current tech sector trends are any indicator, the metaverse of the future will be a jumble of fragmented digital worlds.
Different businesses have their own visions of what the metaverse should be. They’re also well aware of the importance of platforms. Controlling the platform implies you can charge rent, as demonstrated by Apple’s iPhone, Tencent’s WeChat, and Meta’s own Facebook. Do you want to market your iPhone app? You’ll have to give Apple a tithe.
According to Singulos Research CEO Brad Quinton, whose Perceptus AI technology is meant to identify real-world items in augmented reality, one of the metaverse’s 3D interfaces, it will be no different in the metaverse.
“WhatsApp and iMessage,” Quinton remarked, referring to Meta’s and Apple’s respective communication programmes. “That doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.”
The metaverse has captured public attention since Zuckerberg, the concept’s most vocal backer, staked his giant social network’s future on it last year. He’s pitched it as a realm built by multiple companies using open standards. In it, you’re promised an experience like Neal Stephenson described in Snow Crash, the 1992 novel that introduced the term to the public.
In reality, the metaverse is a hype bubble that could quickly descend into a mess. If you find it painful to navigate the current internet, with its collection of different services with separate logins, currencies, contact lists, avatars and item inventories, wait until you have to login while wearing a bulky uncomfortable helmet.
Here Comes the Multi-Metaverse Mess
According to Forrester analyst Martha Bennett, the metaverse refers to the 3D worlds we’ll inhabit in the future. This will include wholly digital zones that we’ll visit via virtual reality, or VR, as well as augmented reality, or AR, which combines digital and real-world elements. With the appropriate headgear, you may play immersive video games, dress up as an extravagant avatar at a virtual party, go clothes shopping, add fresh metrics and scenery to your workout, or see commercials and map directions superimposed on your perspective of the actual world.
In video games, internet chat rooms, and fly-through real estate websites, the metaverse may already exist. Proponents of the metaverse argue that it can provide a more immersive and believable experience.
The concept has been discussed at high-profile events such as the recent SXSW festival and the Game Developers Conference, which is taking place this week.
According to Meta, the metaverse will be filled with activities such as work conferences, virtual table tennis, and online schooling. It would be powered by a shared foundation, according to Zuckerberg, who announced in October that Facebook would change its name to Meta, basically putting the house on the new digital universe.
“It will be as simple as clicking a link on the internet to teleport around the metaverse. It’s a freely available standard. Interoperability is required in order to fully realise the metaverse’s potential “In his metaverse manifesto, Zuckerberg stated that digital commodities must be portable. “When you buy or make something, it will be valuable in a variety of situations, and you will not be bound into a single environment or platform.”
This would also allow you to avoid making repeated purchases, such as purchasing Angry Birds twice to play on your Android phone and iPad. For such one-of-a-kind digital assets, such as Nike sneakers, proponents of the metaverse want to employ nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, which record ownership on the same blockchain like Bitcoin.
Not so quickly, Meta
Meta’s concept of a united metaverse basis isn’t exactly new. Data is routed through the internet, email is shuttled from Gmail to Outlook, and webpages are delivered to your browser thanks to collaboratively developed standards. Many collaboratively produced open-source software projects, such as the Linux operating system, LLVM for software development, and Chromium for web browser development, benefit the largest names in IT.
However, most current tech platforms we encounter have a proprietary design controlled by a single corporation. More than open standards, it’s a world of gated gardens.
Because it’s difficult to persuade all of your contacts to switch to anything else, and for them to persuade all of their contacts to switch to something else, Facebook remains sticky. Customers who purchase Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and AirPods, as well as subscribe to Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, and Apple Fitness Plus, benefit the most from Apple technology. Office productivity, LinkedIn identification, and Activision are all Microsoft products. Blizzard gaming will most likely be essential, rather than peripheral, to its own metaverse.
According to Jack McCauley, an engineer who co-founded the Oculus VR headset effort but departed after Facebook acquired it in 2014, what Meta truly wants is to basically own the metaverse. “What they’re attempting to do is build their own platform,” he explained, complete with apps and services.
Meta is working to construct a metaverse platform, investing billions of dollars over the next few years and attempting to attract developers and creators. However, the company’s ambition does not include a Facebook-only metaverse. Interoperability and open standards “must be incorporated into the metaverse from the beginning,” according to Zuckerberg, a strategy that could reduce barriers between different metaverses.
He described today’s huge tech platforms’ “lack of choice and hefty costs” as “suffocating innovation and… dragging down the entire internet economy.”
However, McCauley isn’t the only one who believes there will be significant disconnects between metaverses.
According to Eric Alexander, founder of Soundscape VR, people will go to one metaverse where their friends hang out and another metaverse that their employer creates. Different governance frameworks, content moderation procedures, and core technologies with proprietary elements will be required in different worlds. To prevent lag between real-world musicians’ activities and the resulting audio, his own service, which creates a visually realistic 3D world to complement people’s music or concerts, requires very low latency. Soundscape VR is adamant about not sharing this information or lowering its criteria for a shared base.
And the metaverse will be defined by those various patches of turf, at least until consolidation eliminates or absorbs smaller players.
According to Bradley Tusk, an investor at Tusk Ventures, “everyone will want to own and govern their own metaverse.” “Once they compete against one other, we’ll see who wins.”
Some openness to metaverse foundations?
Common infrastructure could help the metaverse’s foundations. There are a number of projects that may be able to assist. The Open AR Cloud Association, a non-profit, may create a digital mirror of the real world that AR headsets could use. OpenXR is a programming interface that allows programmers to create applications that work across numerous AR and VR devices. WebXR, on the other hand, extends online publishing techniques to the browser interfaces of virtual reality headsets. Nvidia, the graphics chip company, favours Pixar’s Universal Scene Description technology as a viable foundation.
Smaller endeavours could benefit from alliances. David Lucatch, CEO of Liquid Avatar Technologies, which provides identity technologies to help people navigate metaverses more simply, hopes for this. He was instrumental in the formation of the Multiverse Collective, which aims to enable companies to band together with shared technologies in order to better compete with giants like Meta’s metaverse endeavours.
Closed technology, on the other hand, will win out in the end, according to GlobalData analyst Laura Petrone. “Big tech businesses with a lot of data, computing power, and sophisticated technologies are in charge of the metaverse,” she stated.
You can count on them to set their own benchmarks.