Will a metaverse open standards group with Microsoft and Meta change anything?

What is a metaverse? There is still no definition that can be remembered and repeated every time we are asked this million dollar question. Perhaps this is the very first thing a new standards group called The Metaverse Standards Forum will tackle. There are 37 members on board, including Meta, Microsoft, Nvidia, Adobe, Epic Games, Qualcomm and Alibaba. The idea is to build open and interoperable standards for metaverse experiences.

Right now the forum comes together as a mix of brands and companies. Some of them will be the foundation for metaverse experiences, including platforms and headset hardware – Meta, Nvidia and Microsoft stand out. Others, such as Ikea, Epic Games, and Sony, could lead the way by providing experiences. The third layer is companies and tech platforms that plug in with pieces of a complex puzzle.

Huge numbers, but not just one challenge ahead.

“The Metaverse Standards Forum is a unique venue for coordination between standards organizations and industry, with a mission to advance the pragmatic and timely standardization that will be essential for an open and inclusive metaverse,” said Neil Trevett, president of Khronos, a US-based consortium focused on developing and maintaining royalty-free interoperability standards for 3D, virtual reality and augmented reality.

The latest figures from Researchandmarkets.com in the Global Metaverse Market Research Report 2022 predicted the space would be worth $758.6 billion by 2026 — that’s an annual growth rate of 37.1% from a value of about $107, 1 billion in 2020.

Still, consistent standards for developers and ease of switching for consumers aren’t the only issues to address.

“The Metaverse, while difficult to define as it is constantly evolving, can be thought of as a network of real-time 3D-rendered virtual worlds. It will be an evolution of the internet, which we will be constantly in,” said Aneesh Rayancha, co-founder of AppyHigh, a technology company, speaking to HT earlier.

What falls within a metaverse, and what does not?

The new forum comes at a time when defining the metaverse is paramount, which will further allow for a definitive structure of the kind of experiences that will or will not fall within the realm of the metaverse in the truest sense of the word. . The lack of clarity at the moment has allowed many brands to publicize what would otherwise be basic 3D experiences, as something out of the metaverse. It may not always be true.

There has been a lot of focus on fashion, entertainment, lifestyle and sports experiences that can be classified as the metaverse. The same goes for virtual land and metaverse gaming. Research by CB Insights found that the metaverse market could be worth $1 trillion by the end of the decade.

For example, Nike acquired virtual sneaker company RTFKT and partnered with Roblox to build “Nikeland”, a virtual world where users can purchase Nike outfits for digital avatars. Fashion brand Balenciaga saw a strong presence in the popular game Fortnite. A Gucci digital bag sold for more than $4,000 on Roblox last summer.

Is the closed metaverse(s) debate over?

The open and interoperable standards will boost the idea of ​​more open experiences, not walled gardens, something that will remain a fear among the metaverse as it evolves. “We believe there is a need for technical products to solve the challenges we face in making the end-user experience seamless and scalable and our deep-tech platform is on that path,” said Sravanth Aluru, chief executive officer and founder of Avataar, an Indian technology company that builds interactive shopping experiences.

Meta for its part has tried to allay fears that they could build a closed metaverse platform. “There will be no Meta-run metaverse, just like there is no ‘Microsoft Internet’ or ‘Google Internet’ today. Like the internet, the metaverse will be an interconnected system that transcends national borders, so there will have to be a web of public and private standards, norms and rules for it to work in different jurisdictions,” Nick Clegg, President, Global Affairs at Meta, said last month.

“Just as standardization has been an important foundation for open knowledge sharing and rapid development in the web age, so has the Metaverse,” said Arno Hollosi, CTO at Blackshark.ai, in a statement.

With the metaverse used as the unique replaceable term for anything virtual, including augmented reality and virtual reality, as well as standard 3D visuals, open standards allow developers to build the content for different platforms without extensive editing. At the same time, users can transfer their metaverse data, such as avatars and digital assets, among themselves.

It’s too early to end the debate about closed and open metaverses with this, as it’s still unclear how tech companies will ultimately build experiences, deliver those experiences, and methods to monetize. Some exclusivities are likely to remain.

Striking by their absence: an incomplete puzzle?

But right now, the Metaverse Standards Forum seems to be more determined by who isn’t on board, as the puzzle wouldn’t necessarily be complete.

The biggest names still missing from the forum are Google, Apple, Roblox and Niantic, although that could change in the future. To be fair, Apple hasn’t been very vocal about metaverse or the experiences, but there have been persistent rumors that the company would be developing augmented reality and virtual reality hardware, including consumer headsets. Apple has never confirmed this speculation.

With Roblox and Niantic missing, there’s still a pretty big gap to fill. Both companies have extensively customized their platforms to prepare for the next iteration of the web. Earlier this year, Roblox was the platform of choice for the McLaren Formula 1 team to unveil the 2022 race car, complete with a paywall for the expanded experience. Niantic has a history of building games and products for smartphones in particular, which overlap virtual elements in the real world and derive the latter from the phone’s camera.

Decisions outside the definition: lessons from social media

There will be other challenges to tackle in the coming days. Researchers from Coburg University in Germany, Cambridge University in the UK, the University of Primorska in Slovenia and tech giant Microsoft released a study this month detailing the reactions of 18 people who spent a week working in the metaverse — two dropped out because of up to nausea, while the rest reported feeling anxious and said their eyes hurt by the second half of the week-long experiment.

Even in the nascent stage, metaverse experiences that have surfaced grapple with issues such as bullying and harassment, which are rampant on social media networks as well. “Things like proving your digital identity, data protection and how property rights are assigned to creators of digital assets are some of the other challenges creators are likely to face,” said Vipasha Joshi, Country Manager at Jellysmack, a global platform for creating assets. content. HT.

In November, Meta confirmed that a beta tester reported being groped by an alien on Horizon Worlds. The company called this “absolutely unfortunate”, while promising that the feedback will help better integrate the blocking feature.

All this will need solutions.

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