What are the similarities and differences between the explosion of the Metaverse concept in recent months and the popularity of digital twins in recent years?
Is the Metaverse a sci-fi gimmick for conceptual hype, a weapon for capital to cut leeks, or is it the future of the Internet, or both?
The Metaverse of the “virtual world that is born out of the real world, interacts with the real world, and is always online” and the digital twin of “virtual-real mapping, real-time connection, and dynamic interaction” seem to have many similarities, but they are not the same. , what is the relationship between the two?
This paper intends to compare and analyze the two concepts of Metaverse and digital twin from the perspective of technological evolution, and make an outlook on the future development of these two technologies, especially the Metaverse.
Technical timeline of the Metaverse
Before entering the main topic, it is necessary to sort out the time line of the Metaverse, especially those technology-related events that are not very concerned by various interpretation articles in the market, but are valuable and even important, as the time for investment, acquisition, listing and other business events. line supplement.
The Metaverse was first proposed as a sci-fi concept in 1992. American science fiction writer Neil Stephenson gave a cyberpunk (Cyberpunk, a combination of extremely low living standards and extremely high technical levels) in his book “Avalanche”, where humans can use digital avatars (Avatar), Interact with each other and software agents in a three-dimensional virtual space that uses real-world metaphors, into which everything in the real world can be digitally replicated, which the authors call the Metaverse.
In 1994, New York University submitted the priority of “Method and system for scripting interactive animated actors” to the US Patent Office; officially submitted the application in 1997; in 2001, the patent was granted US6285380. This is the first patent in the world to mention Neil Stephenson’s Avalanche and Metaverse in a patent specification. At present, there are about 300 patent applications or authorizations in the world that mention Metaverse in the patent text, and the distribution by patentee is shown in Table 1.
Table 1 Distribution of patentees who mentioned Metaverse in patent texts (Data source: Google Patent)
In 2003, Linden Lab launched Second Life. The stated goal of the project is to create a user-defined world, such as the Metaverse, in which people can interact, play, conduct business, and otherwise communicate.
In 2007, the Acceleration Studies Foundation released the report “The Metaverse Roadmap – Pathways to 3D Networks: A Cross-Industry Public Foresight Project”.
In July 2007, at the 81st MPEG conference held in Lausanne, Switzerland, Korea submitted a Metaverse case proposal to the MPEG working group (formerly ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29/WG 11). This is the first time Metaverse has entered the field of international standardization.
In 2007, the first Metaverse-related monograph “The Second Life Herald: The Virtual Tabloid that Witnessed the Dawn of the Metaverse” was published.
At the end of 2007, IBM submitted a patent application for “Rules-based profile switching in Metaverse applications” to the US Patent Office, which is the world’s first patent application that mentions Metaverse in the patent title. The application was made public in 2009 but was not authorized. At present, there are 21 patent applications or authorizations in the world that mention Metaverse in the patent name, and the distribution by patentee is shown in Table 2.
Table 2 Distribution of patentees who mentioned Metaverse in patent names (Data source: Google Patent)
In early 2008, IBM submitted a patent application for “System and method for group control in a Metaverse application” to the US Patent Office. In 2015, it obtained the authorization US8990707, becoming the first authorized patent in the world to mention Metaverse in the patent title. The PCT application for this patent entered both Japan and China in early 2009, and was granted a Japanese patent in 2015, but its Chinese application “System and Method for Group Control in Virtual Reality Applications” (CN101482900A) has not been authorized.
From October 2008 to March 2011, the EU ITEA project Metaverse1, initiated by Philips and the Israeli think tank MetaverseLabs, ran successfully. One of the outcomes of this project is the ISO/IEC 23005 series of standards, which aim to define a standard interface between the real physical world and the virtual world for connection, information exchange and interoperability between the virtual and real worlds.
In 2011, the first edition of ISO/IEC 23005-1 (Media context and control — Part 1: Architecture) was released, which was the first international standard to mention Metaverse in the standard text. In 2020, the fourth edition of ISO/IEC 23005-1 was published.
In 2019, the IEEE Standards Association launched the P2888 project (Interfacing Cyber and Physical World), taking the first step in developing a standard system that connects the physical and virtual worlds and builds a synchronized Metaverse.As a supplement to the ISO/IEC 23005 series of standards, IEEE 2888 includes four parts: Specification of Sensor Interface for Cyber and Physical World, Standard for Actuator Interface for Cyber and Physical World, Orchestration of Digital Synchronization between Cyber and Physical World) and 6DOF Virtual Reality Disaster Response Training System Architecture. The first three parts aim to provide general technologies for the digital twin space or Metaverse, and the fourth criterion is domain-specific applications.
Figure 1 IEEE 2888 series standard architecture (Source: IEEE SA)
In 2021, South Korea established the National Metaverse Alliance with the goal of establishing a unified national VR and AR platform.
Comparing the above-mentioned timelines related to the research and development of Metaverse technologies such as patents, standards, and open source projects with the results reflected by Google Trends, we can see that although the Google Trends of Metaverse in the past year and five years are the number one traffic contributed by China. One, but over time, Google Trends from 2004 to the present (Figure 2) is the top spot in South Korea, and the relative high slope around 2007 is basically consistent with the above-mentioned technical timeline.
Figure 2 Metaverse Google Trends from 2004 to present
Interpretation of Metaverse Terms and Their Definitions
At present, most people literally translate Metaverse as Metaverse, believing that meta means “meta”, and that verse means universe means universe. You know, the meta- prefix has two or three meanings in English, including:
- Alterations, such as metabolism metabolism, metamorphism metamorphosis/denaturation, metaphor metaphors, etc.;
- Beyond, following/locating/following…, higher-level forms, second-order, such as metaphysis metaphysics, metadata metadata, metamodel metamodels, etc.
- In chemistry, meta- also means “intermediate”, “inter (position)”, and “bias”.
Chinese use “元” (referring to the origin, essence) to translate meta-, and it does not cover all situations, which is the case with Metaverse. The Metaverse, which sounds like a theoretical physics or cosmology concept, is about the origin of the universe or the universe of the multiverse. But the Metaverse is not about the universe of the universe, but the virtual world beyond reality. Therefore, “superworld/superworld” is a more accurate translation. Due to the development of VR/AR/MR technology, we have constructed a virtual world outside the real world, which extends or transcends the real world, that is, “super world”, which can also be called “super universe”. Translating the Metaverse into the Metaverse is a misleading and suboptimal translation. Since the market is powerful enough, we can only extend the Metaverse for now.
At present, Wikipedia’s definition of Metaverse is one of the more recognized definitions, which comes from the “Metaverse Roadmap” released in 2007 mentioned above. The Metaverse Roadmap gives five definitions of Metaverse, the first of which is adopted by Wikipedia. In May of this year, American tech futurist Cathy Hacker interviewed 20 professionals and released 20 new definitions of the Metaverse. Table 3 organizes some Metaverse definitions from 2007 to the present.
Table 3 Evolution of Metaverse definitions
Regarding the connotation of Metaverse, as you can see now, for 30 years, Metaverse has long been out of the setting of early science fiction cyberpunk. Through serious investment in scientific and technological research and development and business operations, it has first entered into a world closely related to public life. In the field of game entertainment, its conceptual connotation has been in the process of continuous evolution, various statements emerge in an endless stream, and there is no authoritative and unified definition.
We know that a canonical term item definition is a distinguishing feature plus a superordinate concept. Let’s first look at the distinguishing features of the Metaverse. The concepts closest to the Metaverse and most related to the Metaverse are definitely virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality, or rather the application of these technologies, such as the Metaverse and MMORPGs from many years ago – second What is the difference in life? What is the difference between the Metaverse applications launched by major manufacturers and game manufacturers and virtual reality + social networking, virtual reality + games and virtual reality + shopping?
Combing through the various definitions in Table 3, we can summarize three distinguishing characteristics of the (future) Metaverse and the above technologies or applications:
- Persistence. The Metaverse will coexist with human civilization and must be able to exist forever, that is, the word persistence mentioned in the definitions in Table 3. The existence of the Metaverse cannot be affected by the bankruptcy of a certain company.
- Decentralized. Similar to the HTTP protocol of the Internet, to access the Metaverse, there must be an open source sharing protocol. The right to formulate and interpret this agreement and related rules cannot belong to a company or country.
- Co-evolution. Similar to the digital twins in the digital twin system and their corresponding physical entities, there is a relationship of real-time connection and dynamic interaction, from virtual characters in the Metaverse and real individuals in the real world, to the group organization of the two worlds, They all need to be connected, influenced, and co-evolved.
The above three distinguishing features are not only the essential difference between the Metaverse and other existing technologies and applications, but also the indicators of the needs that human beings will meet in the future construction of the Metaverse.
So what exactly is the Metaverse? What is its superordinate concept? Is it a virtual shared space in the Wikipedia definition? Or the next-generation Internet in the minds of big companies such as Facebook and Tencent? The answer to this question actually involves the ultimate purpose of human beings in building the Metaverse. For example, why do humans need games? Why do humans need virtual spaces? What problems and needs does the Metaverse solve for humanity? Popular science writer Wang Jie believes that the essence of the Metaverse is an interface revolution between the real world and the digital world. This point of view is exactly the problem that the IEEE 2888 series of standards aims to solve.
technical system analysis
Armed with the three distinguishing characteristics or indicators of need of the Metaverse described above, we can begin our technical systems analysis for the future complex system of the Metaverse.
Jon Radoff, founder of Beamable, proposed the seven-layer architecture of the Metaverse (Figure 3): infrastructure, human-computer interaction, decentralization, spatial computing, creator economy, discovery, and experience.
Figure 3 The seven-layer architecture of the Metaverse (Source: Jon Radoff)
The bottom layer of the Metaverse is infrastructure. This includes the technologies that power our devices, connect them to the network, and deliver content, such as 5G/6G, chips, batteries, image sensors, and more.
The second layer is the human-computer interaction layer. This layer is mainly for smart wearable devices. At present, Sony, Microsoft, Oculus, Samsung and other companies producing VR/AR headsets are like the big brothers in the early days of the mobile Internet. Soon we will have: smart glasses that can perform all the functions of a smartphone, as well as AR and VR applications; clothing that integrates 3D-printed wearables; tiny biosensors printed on the skin; even brain-computer interfaces. Computer devices are getting closer and closer to our bodies, turning us into cyborgs—cyborgs.
The third layer is the decentralization layer. This layer is an important turning point in building the relationship between people in the Metaverse. Through this layer, all the resources of the Metaverse can be distributed more equitably.Distributed computing and microservices provide a scalable ecosystem for developers to take advantage of online capabilities without having to focus on building or integrating back-end functionality. NFTs and blockchain technology optimized around microtransactions liberate financial assets from centralized control and custody. Far-edge computing will enable the cloud to enable powerful applications with low latency without burdening our devices with all the work.
The fourth layer is the computational layer. This layer mixes real computing and virtual computing to remove the barriers between the physical world and the virtual world, providing 3D engines, gesture recognition, artificial intelligence, etc., are some of the companies that provide algorithms.
The fifth layer is the creator economy layer. This layer contains all the technology creators use every day to make experiences that people love, providing independent creators with an integrated set of tools, discovery, social networking and monetization in a decentralized and open manner, enabling unprecedented access to Ability to create experiences for others.
The sixth layer is the discovery layer. Similar to the web portals and search engines, this layer provides push and pull that introduce people to new experiences. It’s a huge ecosystem, and one of the most profitable for many large businesses.
The seventh layer, or the top layer, is the experience layer. Here are the games, social platforms, etc. that users face directly. Many people imagine the Metaverse as the three-dimensional space that surrounds us; but the Metaverse doesn’t have to be 3D or 2D, or even graphical; it’s about the dematerialization of physical space such as space, distance, and objects.
Technology Evolution Analysis
As can be seen from the above-mentioned seven-layer structure of the Metaverse, the Metaverse is a larger and more complex system than the digital twin. If the digital twin is a complex technological system, the Metaverse is a complex technological-social system from the very beginning. Both have different technological development and evolution paths.Digital twins originate from the industrialization of complex product development and are moving towards urbanization and globalization; while the Metaverse originated from the game and entertainment industry that builds relationships between people, and is moving from globalization to urbanization and industrialization (Figure 4) .
Figure 4 Different technological evolution paths of Metaverse and digital twin
While both Metaverses and digital twins focus on the connection and interaction of the real physical world and the virtual digital world, the essential difference between the two is that their starting points are completely different. The Metaverse is directly oriented towards people, while the digital twin is first oriented towards things.
Although the term Metaverse predates the appearance of the concept prototype of the Digital twin by a decade, the maturity of the digital twin technology system and the progress of international standardization work is much higher or faster than that of the Metaverse (Figure 5). After going through the technical preparation period, the concept generation period and the application exploration period, the digital twin technology is entering the leading application period, which is the bottom period of the Gartner technology hype curve in Figure 5; while the Metaverse is still in the technology preparation period and concept period. In the early stage of the production period, that is, the starting point of the climbing section on the left side of the Gartner technology hype curve in Figure 5, there are still at least two or three years of long road to technology research and development, standard system, moral and legal supervision, and even the game of great powers. Walk.
Figure 5 Comparison of Metaverse and Digital Twin Technology Maturity
Although compared with the close relationship of VR/AR technology, the distance between the digital twin and the two major technology systems of the Metaverse is not so close. mention digital twins, but it is foreseeable that digital twins will soon become the basic technology in the Metaverse technology system.
The so-called Metaverse environments like “Head Player” and “Fortnite” are sci-fi worlds that are completely separated from the real space. Even if they are modeled on the real world, what happens in the Metaverse will not be reflected in reality, and vice versa. Digital twin technology provides a rich digital twin model for various virtual objects in the Metaverse, and correlates real-time digital twinned (physical) objects with real-world digital twinned (physical) objects through real-time data collected from sensors and other connected devices. Virtual objects in the Metaverse environment can mirror, analyze and predict the behavior of their digital twin objects, which will greatly enrich the application scenarios of digital twin technology (from IoT platforms to Metaverse environments) and the complexity of digital twin systems (from system-level to system-level extension).
Although the concept (stock) of the Metaverse has been hyped up recently, it does represent the development direction of the next-generation, next-generation Internet. Coupled with the blessing of digital twin technology, the two major technology systems will complement each other and shine in the fourth industrial revolution in the future.
Figure 6 John Wheeler’s Everything Comes from Bits
Figure 7 A current understanding of space-time relationships, reality and virtuality (Source: INRS)
In the article “Digital Twins from the Perspective of a New Round of Technological Industrial Revolution”, the author mentioned that theoretical physicist John Wheeler proposed that all things originate from bits. If this assertion is proved or verified in the future, or Tegmark If the mathematical universe of the world is proved or verified, we will all have a more essential understanding of virtual and reality, physical and digital. At that time, it will also be a blessing for the word Metaverse to return from the virtual world that transcends reality-superworld to its universe about the universe-Metaverse.
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/metaverse-vs-digital-twin-a-perspective-on-technological-evolution/
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