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January 11, 2024
Remember the metaverse? The term saw much hype until expectations failed to match reality. VR worlds remain an avenue for individual escapism, VR/AR headsets still struggle with bulkiness and latency issues, the NFT market collapsed and cryptocurrency is trying to revive its heyday.
“The metaverse is a very misunderstood term. I think lots of people have their own definition. It is a maligned term, let's be honest and very often when we start talking about the metaverse, I get the eye roll,” said Neil Trevett, vice president of developer ecosystems at Nvidia during a panel on ‘The Future of a Post-Hype Metaverse’ at CES 2024.
But despite several public disappointments – NFTs are not worth much these days − work on the metaverse has not stopped, with many companies investing in and adopting its beachhead application in industrial use cases such as digital twins, Trevett said.
Now, a wave of disruptive technologies is coming that will give the metaverse a much-needed boost – AI, GPU processing and compute, XR, advanced networking, WiFi 7, 5G/6G and Web 3.0., according to Trevett.
“We have the opportunity, I think, to combine the immersiveness of spatial computing – which is where your computing devices begin to understand their environment in 3D including you, your movements, your gestures and your language – with advanced networking, the global availability of networking and connectivity to the web,” Trevett said. “Something really interesting is going to happen to your company.”
Apple’s Vision Pro XR headset is helping to overcome hurdles in the wider adoption of the metaverse, said Daniel Diez, chief transformation officer of Magic Leap.
“It created what I imagined as an in-between technology to overcome the major deficiency of VR, which is not having any awareness of the physical world,” Diez said. “The lag inherent in the past for VR is a non-starter for so many of the most valuable use cases for augmented reality.”
Apple claims that its XR headset has improved latency to minimize dizziness.
Trevett added that Apple did the metaverse a favor by using the term ‘spatial computing’ with Vision Pro. “Spatial computing is a vital part of the metaverse. We just add the connectivity and the social and the creators or the tools for a much larger ecosystem and that becomes the metaverse, but spatial computing is a vital ingredient. It is a building block.”
The goal is to develop what is called an ‘open’ metaverse, which will be easily and freely accessible to all to use and develop, much like the internet is open to everyone to use and create new things. At present, the metaverse is mainly siloed into virtual worlds for gamers or techies or used in individual companies in the form of digital twins.
To create an open metaverse, interoperability standards must be set, just like the internet has common standards to enable applications to work together.
“Open interoperability will be the key,” Trevett said, adding that there is already a Metaverse Standards Forum with 2,600 members.
What does an ideal metaverse look like? Evo Heyning of Realitycraft said she envisions an open metaverse to be a virtual place where people can connect with other creators all over the world in an immersive way, openly and easily, but with privacy and security safeguards.
Trevett said an ideal metaverse is one that “has completely disappeared” because it has become so embedded in everyday life that people forget about it. It also is a tech that enhances, not diminishes, the real world.
“I hope we avoid a dystopian future with everyone isolated in their VR,” Trevett said. “If it is successful, it will radically change how we can interact with each other and interact with our tech in a much more natural, useful and functional way.”
“And we do not have to say the M word ever again.”
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