The metaverse is coming. But what awaits us there? Companies and experts explain how they envision the digital and real worlds merging.
At Facebook’s XR conference and then Meta Connect 2021, Mark Zuckerberg revealed his vision for the Metaverse. This is the next evolution of the social bond. His company wants to bring the metaverse to life and is going all-in – including a name change: Facebook is now called Meta and is on the verge of transforming itself into a “social tech” company.
Immersive technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality (guide) will play a major role in this. But what is the metaverse? We have put together some definitions and perspectives for you.
Meta’s definition of Metaverse and many other thoughts on Metaverse can be found in our podcast MIXED.de #258.
The “Xverse” will be an incredible outgrowth of the Internet
Rony Abovitz is the founder and CEO of one of Silicon Valley’s hottest XR companies: Magic Leap. He envisions the metaverse, or as he calls it the “Xverse,” as a “wild, organic, and wondrous outgrowth of the internet.”
Abovitz believes that no company will or should control the metaverse, but many will try. According to him, there will be old parts that will look like today’s web. At the same time, however, the Metaverse will have new nodes and abilities that come very close to Ready Player One’s Oasis.
There will also be degrees of sentience and autonomy in the Xverse: “We will have the emergence of synthetic life and a variety of incredible worlds to explore. Worldbuilding will become something everyone can do, and people will be able to share parts of their outer and inner lives across the planet at an incredible speed.
Augmented reality is becoming a normal part of everyday life
Yat Siu is co-founder and executive chairman of gaming and blockchain company Animoca Brands. He sees augmented reality as a kind of bridge between the virtual world and the real world. Reality will move on a spectrum from physical reality to virtual reality.
“A significant portion of our time is spent between these two extremes, in some form of augmented reality. Augmented reality will become an integral part of everyday life,” Siu believes. However, according to him, these facets of reality will not compete with each other, but will reinforce each other.
“These new technologies will require a fundamental overhaul. For example, today we see AR as a connection to a virtual world, perhaps as a way of escaping or enhancing the physical world. Going forward, however, AR will serve as a return to the real world, allowing users to take breaks from the virtual world – perhaps to eat or exercise – without completely losing connection,” Yat said. Yes.
Niantic boss John Hanke and product marketing manager Carolina Argguelles Navas of Snap also see augmented reality as a crucial metaverse technology: for them, the metaverse is the real world with digital elements instead of full virtual reality.
“We believe augmented reality — or computers overlaying the world around us — has an easier path to mass adoption, but will also be better for the world than a fully virtual world,” Navas says.
Pokémon Go millionaire Hanke describes his Metaverse as an “augmented reality,” a “world of magic, storytelling, and functionality at the intersection of the digital and physical worlds.” It can encourage people to interact more with the physical world and to play sports, for example.
The Metaverse is a new era of data processing for ambient computing
Sony Electronics’ Tyler Ishida believes in a merging of realities: “Thanks to the resolution and quality of today’s technology, the Metaverse can feel as real to participants as real life.” According to him, everything points to a more intense entertainment experience that appeals to all the senses.
He could imagine that the entertainment aspects of the metaverse would become the main driving force. But there are also many other possible applications such as education, research, industry, IT and security.
Timoni West, head of VR and AR at Unity, sees the Metaverse as more than a new era of computing. Computers were becoming more and more mundane.
“They can recognize faces, voices, hands, relative and absolute positions and speeds, and act on that data in meaningful ways,” West says. These context-aware computers are the pathway to ambient computing, where the computer moves from foreground to background. Google also talks about ambient computing as part of the metaverse.
The Metaverse: A feast for all the senses?
For XR researcher Dr. For Helen Papagiannis, it is above all important to adapt our way of thinking. For her, the 3D visual element is just one aspect: “It’s important that we not only think about how it looks, but how it feels, sounds, smells and even sounds. taste.”
It will be possible to experience the Metaverse with all our senses and our whole being. Our senses could be used in alternative ways that would be contrary to what we experience in physical reality. It opens a new door of possibilities, even creating new senses of sensations that are not possible in the real world.
No metaverse without artificial intelligence
For Ebay’s AI boss, Nitzan Mekel-Bobrov, it is clear that there will be no metaverse without artificial intelligence: “Like carbon for the organic world, AI will be both the matrix that provides the necessary structural support and the material from which the digital representation is produced,” says Mekel-Bobrov.
AI will shape the shape of the metaverse, primarily at the physical-digital interface. This applies, for example, to the translation of human actions into numerical inputs such as language, eye movements, hand gestures, locomotion. AI companies and researchers have already made huge strides here.
The Metaverse as the New Internet
Microsoft’s definition of the Metaverse (still) focuses on the business world: Microsoft boss Satya Nadella describes the Metaverse as a new platform for a time when the digital and real worlds are increasingly coming together.
This platform makes it possible to embed the real world in the virtual environment or, conversely, to integrate digital elements into the real world. The most important thing is that you bring your “humanity” with you and be able to choose how you want to experience the metaverse and with whom, Nadella said.
Similar to Meta, Microsoft sees the Metaverse as a new vision of the Internet, which, for example through avatars, becomes a physically perceptible digital place with which it is possible to interact in a way similar to the real world. “It’s not a vision anymore. You can meet other people in a video game and go to a concert,” Microsoft explains.
A digital twin of the world with “gigantic economic potential”
Nvidia boss Jensen Huang sees the Metaverse – his company calls it “Omniverse” – as “an overlay of the physical world” that will merge many different areas such as social, gaming and industry.
It is the connecting element between many tools and end devices with a focus on digital assets and projects. VR, AR and AI are expected to play a vital role in accessing, building and managing the digital world.
“I’m pretty sure the Omniverse and Metaverse will form a new economy bigger than our current economy,” Huang says.
In the future, people will spend much of their time in this virtual world of work and life. “We are going to do a lot of work there and a lot of robots will work for us there as well. And we share the results with each other,” predicts Huang.
The metaverse as a spatial and ubiquitous Internet
Chipmaker Qualcomm equips Metaverse access devices with its processors – smartphones, tech glasses and more. Hugo Swart is the head of the XR department at Qualcomm. He sees the Metaverse as a “pervasive spatial internet with personalized digital experiences that span the physical and virtual worlds, where anything and anyone can communicate and interact seamlessly.”
Access to the Metaverse is possible with any type of computer: “In the Metaverse, an unlimited number of users and companies can explore, create, connect and participate in a multitude of communities, experiences daily life and economic activities in 2D and 3D.”
The metaverse is not a place, it’s a moment in time
Tech founder and former Twitch manager Shaan Puri offers an interesting definition that’s out of the ordinary: he doesn’t see the Metaverse as a virtual place. Instead, the term describes a specific moment in time, akin to the singularity of when artificial intelligence leaves human intelligence elusive.
“The metaverse is when our digital life is worth more than our physical life,” Puri writes.
This gradual development will take place over the next ten to twenty years. The focus is increasingly on the digital rather than the real world: “We’re going to go from 50% attention on screens to over 90%. This is when the metaverse begins. Because at that time, our virtual life will become more important than our real life.
“Everything is going digital. Your friends, your job, your identity,” Puri writes.
Learn more about the metaverse: