Connect with us

Metaverse December 28, 2022

What Is the Metaverse – Today?

Published

on

What Is the Metaverse?

The metaverse is a shared virtual landscape, an immersive internet in three dimensions. Or, as the new AI YouChat puts it: “The metaverse is a hypothetical evolution of the internet in which all aspects of online life are integrated into a single virtual reality space. 

That may well be, but what is the metaverse of today? What substantially happened in the metaverse in 2022?

Describing the metaverse is complex because it is a virtual world in its early stages of construction. It partly exists in practice, and partly only in our imaginations. When talking about the metaverse it is sometimes tricky separating the dreamworld from the virtual reality. 

YouChat continues its explanation from above as so: “In this vision for the future of online connectivity, practically all services, platforms, websites, and applications would be accessible through a single VR interface (a headset, for example). Additionally, the metaverse could be used to link physical and digital worlds together, allowing users to interact with one another in a shared, immersive environment.”

A dream of the future

If you’ve read anything about the metaverse before you may already know that the term was first coined by sci-fi author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash.

While Stephenson is credited with the term he was not the only author to cover this ground.

What Is the Metaverse – Today?

Also read: Who invented the Metaverse?

The idea of a shared virtual world was already fairly well explored by fellow futurists. Author William Gibson described an alternative vision of a “consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions…” in his 1984 novel Neuromancer

Cyberspace or metaverse?

Gibson called this shared data hallucination cyberspace, a term we now think of as synonymous with the internet. But Gibson’s idea as described is arguably more similar to the metaverse than it is to the modern world wide web. 

Through the lens of speculative fiction, the internet of today could be viewed as humanity’s first attempt at the metaverse.

Perhaps in the future, the legacy internet will be viewed merely as the foundational layer of the metaverse.

Steven Spielberg’s 2018 movie Ready Player One may offer the closest depiction in fiction to what the future metaverse (or part of it) might look like.

In the story, the protagonist controls an avatar in a vast virtual reality landscape called the OASIS.

To win a prize within the OASIS the player must compete against, or team up with, avatars of other players from around the world.

What Is the Metaverse – Today?

Making the virtual reality today

The metaverse is growing quickly at Fortune 500 companies. A report by consulting firm, McKinsey & Company says global investment in metaverse-related businesses topped $120 billion during the first half of the year, which was more than double what was recorded in the whole of 2021.

Gaming in particular is projected to continue growing with 3.2 billion people expected to be active players for 2022, spending a combined $196.8 billion, as reported by MetaNews previously.

However, the metaverse as imagined in science fiction is still a considerable way off, even if many of its constituent parts are already a reality.

There is a considerable amount of things that we are already capable of: we can already create fantasy virtual environments; make virtual recreations or “digital twins” of real environments; we can work and play in virtual spaces; control virtual avatars; and even receive sensory feedback with haptic technology.

What Is the Metaverse – Today?

Haptic gloves in development at Hong Kong City University.

Digital twin cities new trend

There are practical applications for metaverse technology in multiple industries that are almost too numerous to mention.

Digital twin environments can be leveraged in multiple ways for instance, such as to explore a building or even an entire city before it is built, or to reconfigure a factory floor to find efficiencies in design.

Holidaymakers can visit a virtual recreation of a potential destination, while students can visit companies at their virtual offices or factories around the world. 

What Is the Metaverse – Today?

Islands, rather than unification

The rub is that as it exists today, the metaverse is not a single unified environment. The metaverse is instead more akin to a series of disconnected virtual islands without connecting bridges or walkways – a proto-metaverse.

Some of those islands include Meta’s Horizon Worlds, Nvidia’s Omniverse, and even Epic Games’ Fortnite.

Part of the reason for this is that in contrast to the internet, there is no standard language or protocol that can bind the metaverse together. One possible solution is Universal Scene Description (USD) which Nvidia has touted as the “HTML of the metaverse.”  

The USD “HTML” forms a description of a webpage that can be hosted on the internet, and is retrieved and rendered locally by a web browser.

“The most fundamental standard needed to create the metaverse is the description of a virtual world. At Nvidia, we believe the first version of that standard already exists, writes Nvidia’s R. Lebaredian and M. Kass. “It is the Universal Scene Description (USD)—an open and extensible ecosystem for describing, composing, simulating, and collaborating within 3D worlds.”

Standard metaverse language

At present USD, originally created by the movie studio Pixar for its animation teams, is not quite up to the task that Nvidia has planned for it. That will take some work.

However, Nvidia and a host of other technology firms do seem determined to see the task of a unified metaverse through. The company along with the likes of Adobe, Autodesk, Epic Games, Unity, Meta, Microsoft, OTOY, Qualcomm, and Sony are working together as members of the Metaverse Standards Forum.

The role of the group will not be to build the metaverse together but to arrive at some consensus on what its virtual building blocks should look like.

If this can be achieved, the grand metaverse of human imagination will be one step closer to actual reality. Until then, the proto-metaverse still has a lot to offer.

SHARE THIS POST
Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney.

Business

Quest 3 Headset Will Have Better Mixed Reality Tech

Published

on

Quest 3 Headset Will Have Better Mixed Reality Tech, says Zuckerberg
Artist's rendering.

Meta, keen to be a Metaverse giant, plans to launch virtual reality headset Quest 3 later this year, with better mixed reality technology, said CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Meta confirmed that the release should be called Meta Quest 3. It’s expected to cost between US$300 and US$500, which is about a third of the Quest Pro (the Quest Pro is currently priced at $1,499.99).

Also read: Meta Employees Undermine Zuckerberg’s Metaverse Strategy

The new headset will provide support for Meta Reality, which is technology that enables virtual reality headsets to also be used for augmented reality. This technology allows devices to create mixed reality experiences.

Meta Reality in Next-Gen Consumer Headset

The mixed reality ecosystem is relatively new, but Zuckerberg thinks it’s going to grow a lot in the next few years.

“Later this year, we’re going to launch our next generation consumer headset, which will feature Meta Reality as well, and I expect that this is going to establish this technology as the baseline for all headsets going forward, and eventually of course for AR glasses as well,” said Zuckerberg.

Beyond MR, the broader VR ecosystem continues growing. There are now over 200 apps on Meta’s VR devices that have made more than $1 million in revenue, Zuckerberg said.

How Meta Reality will look in more affordable headsets is yet to be clear.

Meta’s Reported Win over FTC will be Crucial

Meta has reportedly won court approval earlier this week to acquire VR fitness app Supernatural’s maker, Within, which will be a huge boost for Zuckerberg’s ambitious metaverse project.

Meta’s plan was to acquire Within and Supernatural back in October 2021, but it was blocked by the FTC’s complaint file to stop the deal. The FTC’s complaint was justified by saying Meta already owns a “virtual reality empire.”

Zuckerberg’s Meta Quest 2 is arguably the best VR headset, even after a massive hike in its price last year.

“There is a lot of work there that we haven’t actually shipped the product yet. VR, which is starting to ramp, right, Quest 2, I think, did quite well. We have multiple product lines there with the Quest Pro,” said Zuckerberg about Quest 3.

When Meta shipped Quest Pro at the end of last year, it was something their CEO was “really proud of” and believed it was the first mainstream mixed reality device to set the standard for the industry with Meta Reality.

“As always, the reason why we’re focused on building these platforms is to deliver better social experiences than what’s possible today on phones,” said Zuckerberg.

The possible benefit could be expected in Quest 3 through the acquisition of Within.

 

Continue Reading

Metaverse

Interpol Wants to Police Metaverse Crime. But That May Not Be Easy

Published

on

Interpol Wants to Police Metaverse Crime. But That May Not Be Easy

The International Criminal Police Organization, or Interpol, is looking at ways to police crime in the metaverse, according to secretary general Jurgen Stock. However, the agency may find that to be hard in the absence of a universally agreed definition of the “metaverse,” let alone of metaverse crime.

Stock said, “criminals are sophisticated and professional in very quickly adapting to any new technological tool that is available to commit crime. We need to sufficiently respond to that. Sometimes lawmakers, police, and our societies are running a little bit behind.”

“We have seen if we are doing it too late, it already impacts trust in the tools we are using, and therefore the metaverse. In similar platforms that already exist, criminals are using it,” he added, according to the BBC.

Defining the metaverse

The metaverse may be thought of as the idea of a post-physical world in which life is lived virtually on the Internet: “a single, shared, immersive, persistent, 3D virtual space” where humans experience life in ways they could not in the real world.

Also read: Is the World Ready for Music Concerts in the Metaverse?

American author Neal Stephenson is credited with coining the term “metaverse” in his 1992 sci-fi novel Snow Crash. He referred to the metaverse as an all-encompassing digital world that exists parallel to the real world.

However, the word gained significance when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg changed the name of the social media company to “Meta” in 2021, a rebrand that focused on building the metaverse.

While at this point users are already utilizing a range of hardware such as headsets to gain access to the immersive experiences of the metaverse, there’s still no universally agreed definition of the metaverse. Much less of metaverse crime.

What does metaverse crime look like for Interpol?

The building blocks of the new form of communication are still being laid down. Anyone can build their own metaverse and define how that specific digital world works. Interpol has now built its own virtual reality (VR) space in order to catch up with criminals operating in the metaverse.

The VR unit is aimed at helping its officers with training for virtual interactions. Announcing the launch of the virtual reality metaverse last October, Interpol said:

“As the number of metaverse users grows and the technology further develops, the list of possible crimes will only expand to potentially include crimes against children, data theft, money laundering, financial fraud, counterfeiting, ransomware, phishing, and sexual assault and harassment.”

Interpol is still having a hard time defining metaverse crime. Madan Oberoi, the executive director of technology and innovation at Interpol, admitted to the BBC that “there are crimes where I don’t know whether it can still be called a crime or not.”

“For example, there have been reported cases of sexual harassment,” he said. “If you look at the definitions of these crimes in physical space, and you try to apply it in the metaverse, there is a difficulty.”

“We don’t know whether we can call them a crime or not, but those threats are definitely there, so those issues are yet to be resolved,” he added.

Oberoi said law enforcement needed to “know about the metaverse” in order to “help people who have been hurt in the metaverse.” It is one of Interpol’s objectives, he explained, “to make sure law enforcement personnel start using the metaverse and they become aware.”

Uphill task

Alex Kim, chief monetization officer at XR platform Sensorium Galaxy, said while discussions around metaverse regulation may help create “safe digital environments” for users, there is still need to strike a balance in implementation.

“The metaverse is being envisioned as a decentralized platform over which no central authority has control over,” Kim told MetaNews.

“This begs the question of who exactly should be tasked with monitoring the metaverse and what powers can this entity potentially have, and over what and whom.” Continuing, Kim added:

“It’s clear that policing the metaverse won’t be as straightforward as some might be hoping, but it’s very positive that the conversation surrounding the topic is moving forward, especially given the rapid pace of current technological developments.”

Software engineer Brandon Church laughed at the idea that the global police agency wanted to play guard to the metaverse.

“[The metaverse] is just an idea at the moment. The problem with ideas is that sometimes they never see the light of day. So these guys [Interpol] are working on policing an idea? I’m seriously wondering [where they are going with this],” Church told MetaNews.

Arseny Myakotnikov, cofounder and CMO of drive-to-earn Metadrive, believes the Interpol initiative goes against the ethos of decentralization, a key foundational principle of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, and Web3.

“Each metaverse must exist as a separate digital universe, where investors would be able to set their own rules and regulations based on the weight of their votes through decentralized voting within the project’s DAO,” he says

“It’s important to stress that most of the violations mentioned by the Interpol cannot be committed at the current stage of metaverse technology development.”

Interpol is an international organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation and crime control. It was created 100 years ago and is made of 195 member countries.

Continue Reading

Business

Meta Reportedly Defeats FTC to Receive Court Approval to Acquire Within

Published

on

Meta Reportedly Defeats FTC to Receive Court Approval to Acquire Within

Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, has reportedly won court approval for the acquisition of VR fitness app Supernatural’s maker, Within, after the Federal Trade Commission attempted to block the deal.

Also read: Lawsuit Filed Against Meta, Snap, TikTok for Mental Health Crisis

A US district judge, Edward Davila in San Jose California, “denied the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction to block the proposed transaction” in a sealed decision on Wednesday, reported Bloomberg, citing a source familiar with the ruling.

Meta’s plan was to acquire Within and Supernatural back in October 2021, but it was blocked by the FTC’s complaint file to stop the deal. The FTC’s complaint was justified by saying Meta already owns a “virtual reality empire.”

Following the news, shares of Meta were slightly positive on Wednesday afternoon.

Facebook and The FTC also declined to comment with Bloomberg’s query citing the sealed nature of Davila’s decisions.

Push for Metaverse

The reported victory in this case may boost Mark Zuckerberg’s push towards the Metaverse. Zuckerberg’s Meta Quest 2 is arguably the best VR headset, even after a massive hike in its price last year.

Meta Quest Pro for $1500 and Meta Quest 3 are also in the company’s VR line-up, which has already developed VR spaces for work and play.

The Supernatural, developed by Within, was one of the first subscription-based services on the original Meta Quest.

Supernatural, a fitness app that features video instructors and motion-tracked workout routines, carries similarities to Meta’s successful fitness VR music game Beat Saber. Beat Saber was also acquired by Meta in 2019.

 Meta’s Dominance

A trial before the FTC’s administrative judge will start on Feb. 13. The FTC will also decide if it will continue with the case. Lina Khan, the chair of the FTC, was appointed by US President Joe Biden to bolster antitrust enforcement as a key principle of his administration’s economic policy. Hence, if this order stands, this loss to Meta will be a significant setback for Khan.

The FTC sued Meta back in July, arguing this acquisition would expand its dominance in the consumer VR market, highlighting its purchase of Beat Saber three years ago. The agency even emphasized that the addition of Within would even eliminate a “beneficial rivalry” between the two companies.

At the time, “the case was) based on ideology and speculation, not evidence, the idea that this acquisition would lead to anticompetitive outcomes in a dynamic space with as much entry and growth as online and connected fitness is simply not credible,” said a Meta spokesperson in a statement.

It’s still to be decided whether this will be the end of this story or not, as the FTC has declined to comment.

“Out of respect for the court’s orders, the FTC is not in a position to comment at this time,” FTC director of public affairs Douglas Farrar told The Verge.

Within would be the third start-up acquired by social media giants over the last decade if this case ends here and Meta purchases one more VR start-up. Previously, Meta acquired Oculus in 2014 before purchasing Beat Saber in 2019.

 

 

Continue Reading

News Feed

Advertise With Us

Unlock a wide range of advertising
opportunities with MetaNews to reach the
fast-paced meta world.

Publish Your PR

Share your press release with
MetaNews’s growing global audience,
fans, and followers.

Subscribe

Sign up here to get news & updates right to your inbox!

Copyright © 1997 – 2023 MetaNews All Rights Reserved

Copyright © 1997 - 2023 MetaNews All Rights Reserved