American author Neil Stevenson first used the term ‘metaverse’ in his 1992 science fiction novel ‘Snow Crash’. According to Stevenson, the metaverse is the Internet (online) virtual reality (VR). It is a replaceable universe in which concepts of the real world, such as roads, buildings, rooms, and everyday objects, are expressed in a shared VR space. In this universe, people move around as 3D avatars, interacting with other people’s avatars. It also interacts with similar avatar entities that are software agents.
What is Metaverse?
Since the 1980s, the metaverse has been the main subject of cyberpunk novels and movies. The metaverse appears in novels such as William Gibson’s ‘Burning Chrome’ and ‘Newromancer’ and Ernest Klein’s ‘Ready Player One’. Steven Spielberg made the film Ready Player One in 2018, and ‘The Matrix’ is also a movie set in the metaverse.
Metaverse is generally described in literature as a dystopia suggesting totalitarian capitalism. People are forced to live in a fake world owned by corporations or organizations. In Ready Player One, people stand by the real world as they are completely immersed in the metaverse called ‘OASIS’. People play games in Oasis, go to school and work, and pay taxes. The reality that people neglected is reduced to ruins.
The metaverse in the novel is far from a utopia. Still, why was Zuckerberg so fascinated by the metaverse?
Let’s start with the basics. If there was a true metaverse, it wouldn’t be Zuckerberg’s metaverse. If Zuckerberg builds a virtual universe, it’s not a metaverse.
Why Zuckerberg Wants His Metaverse
There is only one way to derive a single virtual space that is global and universal. It is the Internet or the Web that evolves all virtual elements. This will allow humans to interact with all web services in the 3D VR space. However, this is less feasible, if not impossible, as privatized and exclusive platforms are likely to attract more investment as they become artificially scarce.
It is realistic to name Facebook’s metaverse ‘Zuckerverse’. Because it is the vision and personal project of Facebook CEO. It’s the dream of a smart, introverted person who doesn’t get along easily, wears goggles all day, takes the ‘blue pill’, and wants to live in the Matrix. No one wants a world like this. Zuckerberg’s metaverse is not the future of the Internet.
It is certain that there will be many virtual online spaces, worlds and platforms. There will probably be thousands of them. There will be a lot of social networking in the virtual space, not just playing games, but also working and educating. Zuckerberg’s ‘Metaverse’ will become an exclusive space for the few, like Facebook. In other words, it cannot be said to be a true metaverse for everyone. Even today, Facebook requires a Facebook account to use the Oculus Quest headset. An open platform doesn’t exist in Facebook’s DNA.
So, why is Zuckerberg so obsessed with the metaverse? I think there are five reasons.
2. Zuckerberg knows that Facebook will have to change to extend social networking and interaction into the virtual world. Zuckerberg’s bold moves, big announcements and massive investments will drive this shift for employees, partners, investors and users.
3. Zuckerberg and Facebook know that social networks will be replaced by others. Just like Facebook replaced MySpace, MySpace replaced AOL, AOL replaced CompuServe, and CompuServe replaced the BBS system. There has never been a case where a company that dominates one type of social platform has also taken over a subsequent platform. Facebook wants to be the first company to dominate two generations of online social networks.
4. Because of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. If Facebook were to make a fuss in the virtual world, there would be no investors investing in startups doing similar things.
If Zuckerberg is openly obsessed with the metaverse with a specific intention, the intent is clear. Making the public aware that the future of virtual and augmented reality (AR) is coming and the way businesses work will be influenced by VR/AR.
Apple and hundreds of startups are working to build the virtual space of the future, developing headsets and glasses, advanced graphics, modeling tools, networking tools, and more. However, the metaverse that Apple and Facebook are planning is completely different.
Why ‘Apple Bus’ outperforms ‘Zuckus’
What Facebook wants is a separate virtual universe, and what Apple wants is to add a virtual universe to the real universe.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said AR is a ‘next-generation huge market’, ‘superior to VR’, and ‘a huge idea equivalent to a smartphone’. Cook cited education, consumer, entertainment, and sports as representative AR applications.
Apple and Facebook have increased their investment in Metaverse, which has a contrasting appearance. Is the ruler of the metaverse VR, AR, Zuckus or Appleverse?
Apple holds hundreds of patents and is investing billions of dollars in developing hardware and software platforms for the virtual space of the future. Apple has designed/built several prototypes, such as dual 8K displays, lidar, numerous cameras, and biometric sensors.
An interesting and unusual thing to see in Apple’s Metaverse business is that VR goggles will be used in the early days of AR applications. The user will see a real-time image of the real world containing the virtual object. According to one report, Apple is working on AR glasses with prescription lenses that can be used all day long. These AR glasses are similar in shape to regular glasses.
I gave a detailed introduction to Apple’s physical VR and AR glasses. For VR goggles, we expect it to take two years to launch, and AR glasses five years or more. Apple tends to keep its future plans secret. However, we can guess Apple’s intentions through activities such as patents and acquisitions.
Among Apple’s patents, there is a groundbreaking project called the so-called Bionic Virtual Meeting Room. Integrate hardware and software to have a meeting with other people in a virtual context. Specifically, in the Bionic virtual conference room, the avatar transmits the user’s facial expressions, mouth movements, body language, and actions such as tilting the head in real time. It’s similar to Apple’s Memoji, except that proper spatial interaction takes place in 3D.
What the bionic virtual conference room means is that avatars can see other avatars, and incidental movements occur in real time. Just like in a first-person shooter video game, you can make eye contact, point, gesture, talk, and walk as an avatar. The difference from the game is that 3D, biometric ID (which is very important for business meetings), full upper body real-time gesture mapping, real-time facial mapping, and object mapping are used. Apple holds several patents for biometric sensors that identify emotions. With patented technology, Apple delicately reflects facial expressions.
In a video game, the user is nothing more than a virtual character, a silent puppet. But in Apple’s conferencing technology, users are themselves, optimized for voice and non-voice communication and real-time online collaboration. In other words, the user is deeply connected with the avatar and expresses all movements and emotions with the avatar.
Another major difference between ‘Zuckus’ and ‘Apple Bus’ is that users of Apple’s AR glasses see their avatars as holograms in real physical space, not in VR space. Apple’s intentions are rarely revealed, but the ‘Apple Bus’ will continue to haunt Zuckerberg.
Apple’s bionic conference room technology is social networking through avatars, and Apple has more advanced patents, technologies, design capabilities, and development tools, and is gaining more user trust.
Apple’s virtual conferencing technology will replace the following activities:
- social networking
- video conferencing
- business trip
- professional conference
In the future, many types of meetings, such as 1:1 meetings with suppliers, sales calls, internal meetings, and professional conferences, will be largely avatars. Referring to past examples, Apple’s Bionic conference room technology will enable high-quality meetings that are relatively seamless, frictionless, and secure.
In 10 years, VR and AR will completely change our lives and work. Living all day in AR, often doing specific tasks in VR space, or wearing glasses, you can launch a social interaction window based on virtual objects, data, content, and avatars.
In other words, the VR life Zuckerberg dreams of can be a dystopian nightmare, as science-fiction writers warn. Nevertheless, VR will play a huge role today and in the future.
The virtual space will expand beyond conference rooms to exhibition halls, shopping malls, stadiums, and virtual factories. Nvidia’s Omniverse was an early attempt to virtualize the real world for collaboration and optimization. BMW has accurately replicated every factory with an omnibus. Because the cloned factory is an interactive, virtual environment, you can test changes that may occur in every aspect of your business.
How Virtual Platforms Will Affect Your Business
Nvidia presents the future of enterprise VR. Of course, the omnibus is powerful, but it is not a ‘universe’ or a ‘metaverse’ as it is an isolated application and development platform.
Numerous companies are developing powerful VR application components such as the omnibus. VR will be used in advertising and experimental marketing. The store will sell both physical and virtual goods. NFT enthusiasts expect the metaverse, or virtual space, to give virtual goods scarcity, facilitating NFT-based purchases.
The future of VR is phenomenal. But you’ll just pick one out of thousands of applications and stick with it for temporary use. Despite Zuckerberg’s vision, no one but a handful of game addicts will spend an entire day in VR.
The place we will actually live in is AR. AR will one day replace smartphones as an everyday platform. There must be a reason why humans, who already live in the perfect universe, dare to develop the metaverse. [email protected]
Source: ITWorld Korea by www.itworld.co.kr.
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