Will Zuckerberg’s ‘Metaverse’ Really Change Everything?

Facebook wants to build the virtual reality world in which we all live and work. That’s what’s really going to happen.

Mike Elgan

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in the news recently when he talked about the “metaverse.” Zuckerberg says this is the future of Facebook and the Internet. He was so obsessed with the idea that he planned to hire 10,000 Europeans for the job, and even changed Facebook’s name to Meta.

Will we all live and work in Facebook’s “metaverse”?

What is the Metaverse?

Author Neil Stephenson coined the term “metaverse” in his 1992 science fiction novel Avalanche. In his narrative, the “metaverse” is the virtual reality version of the internet, in which an alternate universe exists in a shared virtual reality space, using real-world concepts such as roads, buildings, rooms, and everyday objects. People move around this universe as avatars, 3D representations that can interact with other people through their avatars, as well as with avatar-like entities that are actually software agents.

The metaverse has been a staple of cyberpunk fiction since the 1980s, from William Gibson’s Burning Chrome and Neuromancer to Ernest Crane’s Ready Player One, and later It was adapted into a feature film by Steven Spielberg. “The Matrix” is a metaverse.

The literary concept of the metaverse is generally dystopian, representing a type of totalitarian capitalism in which people are forced to live most of their lives in a false world owned by corporations. For example, in Cline’s book, everyone is so immersed in a virtual world called “OASIS” (where people can not only play games, but also go to school, work, and pay taxes), so much so that the real world falls into the pain of being ignored. middle.

Fictional virtual worlds are evil. So why does Zuckerberg think he’s good?

Because Zuckerberg wants his own virtual world

First, let’s start with the basics: If there was a metaverse, it wouldn’t be Zuckerberg’s. If Zuckerberg built a virtual universe, it wouldn’t be the metaverse.

In other words, the only possible (but unlikely) way is to eventually get a single global universal virtual space, if the internet or the web somehow develops all virtual parts that allow users to interact with all web services, some with others Service interaction in 3D virtual reality space. It’s unlikely — because proprietary and exclusive platforms, with their artificial scarcity, will attract more investment — but it’s possible.

In fact, Facebook’s “metaverse” should be called the “Zuckerverse” — the company CEO’s personal vision and favorite project. It’s the dream of a smart introvert who’s weird with people, wants to wear goggles all day, eat “blue pills” and live in The Matrix. But that’s not what real people want. This is not the future of the Internet.

To be sure, we will have many online spaces, worlds, and virtual platforms—probably thousands. It’s not just for fun, it’s for work, education, and yes, even, especially social networking.

Like Facebook itself, Zuckerberg’s “metaverse” will be a walled garden for the few, not a true metaverse for all. Even today, to use the Oculus Quest Facebook headset, you need a Facebook account. Open platforms are not in Facebook’s DNA.

So why did Zuckerberg go so far with the idea of ​​a virtual world? I think there are five reasons.

The concept of shared virtual worlds already exists and has been developed by thousands of companies and universities for decades. By opening up about his obsession with it, Zuckerberg hopes to connect with him as a leader.

Zuckerberg understood that in order to grow social networking and interaction in the virtual realm, he needed to move the company forward. Its big moves, big announcements and big investments have repositioned a world of employees, partners, investors and users for transformation.

Zuckerberg and Facebook know that the social network that exists today will be replaced. Just as Facebook replaced MySpace and AOL replaced CompuServ and BBS systems, no company that has mastered one social platform has mastered the next. Facebook wants to be the first company to dominate two generations of the online social network.

FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). It makes sense to grow loudly in the virtual space to discourage investment interest in startups looking to do the same.

If Zuckerberg’s public obsession has any purpose, it’s to point out to us all that the future of virtual reality/augmented reality is just around the corner and that it will have a huge impact on how businesses operate.

Why the Appleverse beats the Zuckerverse

Hundreds of startups are working to build the virtual spaces of the future, developing headsets and glasses, advanced graphics, modeling tools, networking tools, and more, it’s one thing. It’s another thing to know that Apple is also committed to this.

The difference is that Facebook wants an alternative virtual world. Apple wants to add the virtual world to the real world.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has publicly stated that AR is the “next big thing,” “better than VR,” and “a great idea, just like a smartphone,” arguing that AR has a role in “education, consumers, Entertainment, in sports. I can see that in every business I know.”

Both companies are betting on opposing viewpoints: Will VR dominate or AR? Zuckerverse or Appleverse?

Apple holds hundreds of patents and is investing billions of dollars to develop hardware and software platforms for the future of virtual spaces. The company has designed and built several prototypes, some with incredible specs such as dual 8K displays, lidar, and multiple cameras and biometric sensors.

The interesting and unique fact about Apple is that it originally intended to use virtual reality glasses for AR applications. Users will see live video of the real world with virtual objects embedded in it.

Apple is also reportedly working on AR glasses that look like regular glasses and can be worn every day, every day, with prescription lenses.

The approximate timeline for these products is two years for VR glasses and five years or more for augmented reality glasses.

Apple is closely guarding future plans. But sometimes a company’s intentions can be guessed at through patent litigation and acquisitions.

The most world-changing move in Apple’s patent is a concept called the Bionic Virtual Meeting Room. Simply put, the concept integrates hardware and software to hold meetings with other people in a virtual environment. Specifically, people are represented as avatars that communicate facial expressions, mouth movements, body language, head tilt, and other gestures in real time. Like Apple’s Memojis, but with reasonable spatial interaction in 3D.

This means that avatars can see other avatars and their corresponding actions, interacting in real time. These can make eye contact, point, gesture, talk and walk.

It looks like a first person shooter. The difference is 3D, biometric ID (very important for business meetings), full body real-time gesture mapping, real-time face mapping, and room and object mapping. Many of Apple’s patents also detail a series of biometric sensors to detect emotions, which are subtly reflected on facial expressions.

In video games, we appear as a virtual character, a silly puppet. In Apple’s meeting technology, we will appear as a version of ourselves optimized for verbal and non-verbal communication and real-time collaboration. In other words, our avatars will be tied to who we really are – every action and emotion will be expressed by an avatar.

Another big difference is that Apple sees users of its AR glasses not seeing avatars in virtual reality space, but as holograms that appear in their real physical space.

While Apple’s intentions have received little public attention, they undoubtedly haunt Zuckerberg’s nightmare.

Apple’s bionic meeting room technology is a social network through avatars. Apple has better patents, better technology, better design resources, better development tools, and more trust in its user base.

Apple’s virtual meeting technology is about to replace:

  • Social network
  • video conference
  • business travel
  • professional conference

Future meetings are likely to be conducted primarily through avatars. This applies to one-on-one meetings with suppliers, sales calls, HR meetings with employees, professional meetings, and other types of meetings.

If history is any guide, Apple’s advantage may be a relatively seamless, frictionless, secure, high-quality experience.

Fast forward ten years, and VR and AR will dramatically change how we live and work. Every now and then we would go into the VR space to do certain things. But we’ll be living in AR all day long — or at least we’ll have virtual objects, data, content, and avatar-based social interactions that can be instantly conjured through the glasses we wear.

In other words, Zuckerberg’s vision of life in VR (as sci-fi writers warn us) is a dystopian nightmare.

Still, VR will play an important role. In fact, it is already happening.

How many virtual platforms will impact business

Virtual spaces go far beyond meeting rooms. These will include showrooms, malls, stadiums and virtual factories.

Nvidia Omniverse is an early effort to simulate real-world environments for collaboration and optimization. One customer, BMW, used Omniverse to create exact replicas of all of its factories, which can test changes to every aspect of operations in interactive simulations. The video of this project is incredible.

Nvidia shows the way forward for enterprise VR. It is a powerful but isolated application and development platform, not a “universe” or “metaverse”.

Thousands of companies are creating all the components for this powerful VR business application. VR will be used for advertising and the latest experiential marketing. These stores will sell real and virtual clothes and items. NTF enthusiasts believe that the possibility of Metaverse or virtual space will drive NFT-based purchases by enforcing scarcity.

The future of VR is incredible. But VR will always be available as our thousands of apps of instant choice and temporary use. Despite Zuckerberg’s vision, no one but a handful of addicted and obsessed gamers will be immersed in VR all day.

AR is where we live. AR will replace the smartphone as the all-day, every-day platform.

After all, why create a metaverse if we already live in a perfect universe?

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