The concept of a metaverse, a world where 3D avatars interact in a digital universe, is far from an original idea from the tech sector. In fact, the concept first appeared in the world of literature, more specifically science fiction. This type of literature has long imagined a digital world where avatars manage to live together in a completely digital environment as if it were a replica of the real world.
About 30 years ago, American author Neal Stephenson published Snow Crash, in which characters use sophisticated computers to connect to a digital world of avenues, houses, bars or highways , named after the Metaverse.
But before “Avalanche” in the ’80s, author William Gibson described a digital world accessible through a specific terminal in “Neuromancer,” and even referred to virtual reality before it even existed — although here The term “cyberspace” will be used instead of metaverse in this work.
Decades later, with the rapid development of technology, the virtual world has become a “buzzword” in the technology field and the ambition of several companies in the industry. Virtual reality has been described as the next big step in the tech industry for years, but until now it has been more limited to gaming and multimedia use.
The ambition to move forward in this digital world, in a vision where everyone can be represented by a 3D avatar, has had its vacancy, but from the moment major tech companies started incorporating this theme into their respective long-term themes, It gets the power strategy. deadline.
Aside from the big names interested in tech, from Fortnite creators Epic Games to companies like Microsoft, the main difference is that “big tech” doesn’t want to just stay in the gaming world and even find use in the working world – at least so far shared the opinion of.
Zuckerberg’s ambitious gamble
Everywhere, Facebook has shown interest in adding its bet on hardware to more social features, and it has become a multimillion-dollar company. To that end, the company is embarking on acquisitions — in March 2014 it bought virtual reality glasses startup Oculus for $2 billion (about 1.74 billion euros).
Since then, as the device has grown, virtual reality has also gained more space in Facebook’s business, whether it’s social, or even in the work area, the company has a space with communication tools for the business area Workplace. About two years ago, in October 2019, the company also detailed a project called Horizon that would create an interactive digital world through Oculus.
At the end of October, Mark Zuckerberg’s company’s plans culminated in a presentation highlighting those plans for the virtual world, even including the company’s name change. From here, the company is known as Meta, already referring to the ambitious Metaverse program. Zuckerberg explained in his Oct. 28 announcement that the new name is meant to set the tone for “the company’s focus on bringing the metaverse to life and helping people connect, find community, and grow their businesses.”
According to the company, the name reflects the company’s desire to move from “two-dimensional screens to immersive experiences like augmented or virtual reality to help build the next evolution in social technology.”
Aside from the name, the company’s business will be divided into two concepts – one called “App Family”, where Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp or Messenger will be located, and “Reality Labs”, such as virtual reality experiences.
In addition, the company will trade on the stock exchange under the new ticker symbol MVRS from the 1st.
The Metaverse is too big to belong to just one company
It was a daunting project, and the people in charge of Meta/Facebook thought it was too big to do alone from the start. In a statement made via videoconference at this year’s Web Summit, Nick Clegg emphasized that the company is trying to be “as transparent as possible” in these plans for the virtual world.
“I think it’s really important that we be as transparent as possible and realize that the metaverse isn’t going to be held only by Mark Zuckerberg, it’s going to be a more collaborative issue,” and then to companies like Magic Leap or Microsoft For example, it is also possible to participate in these works.
“This technology will take 10 to 15 years to fully develop, it won’t happen overnight,” said the company’s vice president of “global affairs.”
Who is interested in the metaverse?
The names of different initiatives in the digital world, more or less avatars of reality, vary from company to company, but the industry’s willingness to turn to this kind of digital presence is notorious.
Epic Games, creator of the game “Fortnite”, is one example. Since becoming a phenomenon with millions of users, the company has produced digital concerts in which realistic avatars of artists are created, creating in-game stages where players can watch concerts over the internet. Those numbers are impressive: In February 2019, Marshmello tested the waters for these digital concerts, winning over 10.7 million players.
A year later, in April 2020, American rapper Travis Scott splashed paint on the dead at this year’s AstroWorld Music Festival in Texas at an online concert About 27 million users were called up.
After Scott, 2020 followed names like J. Balvin at Fortnite’s Halloween concert, or this year’s already pop star Ariana Grande – away from the gaming world, so, at least at first glance, a less orthodox option .
Online concerts last a few minutes – at least compared to real-world concerts – but they involve careful planning and thousands of hours of work, as the sets produced not only reflect the appearance of the artist himself, creating “double figures”, but also Specific stages are also designed. For example, Travis Scott’s Fortnite concert took over a year to prepare. Ariana Grande was about six to nine months, Epic Games’ Phil Rampulla explained to Billboard.
Beyond gaming, Microsoft is seeing applications for digital avatars in the world of work. The company has plans to create different ways to attend remote meetings. But the company wants to go further and has plans for Teams, which include holograms or virtual avatars.
The common question now is whether the technology is ready to work with these plans. It’s true that virtual reality and the devices that access this digital world have been evolving, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Giant Nvidia, for example, is also interested in this race to the metaverse – albeit in this case using the “Omniverse” expression. At least according to the chipmaker’s CEO Jensen Huang, the company “now has the technology to create new 3D models of the world, or models of our physical world.”
The company has already launched some products in this regard, namely through the Omniverse platform launched last year as a simulation platform. Earlier this year, the company unveiled a new technology called Omniverse Avatar, which generates avatars based on artificial intelligence technology.