Tech giants such as Meta and Microsoft set up Metaverse Standard Forum, but no Apple

Editor’s note: The concept of the Metaverse has been hot for a while. But after the boom, the industry has to face some skinny realities. Among them is the question of how to allow avatars and virtual properties to coexist across different Metaverses, which is the question of interoperability. With the establishment of the Metaverse Standards Forum, the industry has taken the first step towards solving this problem. Article from compilation.

Tech giants such as Meta and Microsoft set up Metaverse Standard Forum, but no Apple

Metaverse Standards Forum

Interoperability, or lack thereof, is a key issue for the nascent Metaverse industry. Now the Khronos Group intends to address this problem with a new open standards discussion forum called The Metaverse Standards Forum. Today, this forum was officially established. Members of the organization include representatives of most major players in the 3D Internet, including Nvidia, Meta, Epic Games, Unity, Microsoft, and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Interestingly, Apple was not included in the membership.

Before today’s announcement, I spoke with Neil Trevett, president of Khronos and VP of Nvidia’s developer ecosystem.Trevett has been president of Khronos since 2001 and previously led the Web3D Consortium from 1997 to 2005.

Before we start our discussion with Trevett, a brief background on Khronos. This is an industry consortium founded in 2000 to develop low-level APIs for “3D graphics, augmented and virtual reality, parallel programming, vision acceleration, and machine learning.” Khronos claims that he has made efforts to open Metaverse technology, such as the establishment and maintenance of glTF is one of them. glTF is a file format for 3D graphics, which the organization calls the “JPEG for 3D”.Also developed by Khronos is WebGL (Web Graphics Library), a JavaScript API for rendering 2D and 3D objects in the browser.

Addressing recent interoperability issues

Trevett told me that Khronos started showing interest in the Metaverse because “a lot of the standards we had before ‘Metaverse’ became a buzzword — in many cases, we developed standards for years, actually The Metaverse is directly related. The 3D API for native apps and the web, OpenXR for AR and VR, and the various file formats we’ve developed, all have immediate use cases for the Metaverse community.”

The Metaverse “will be a hybrid of network connectivity and some evolution of the network, plus spatial computing.”

– Neil Trevett, President of Khronos

According to Trevett, the new forum won’t focus on those philosophical battles, like what virtual worlds will look like in 10 to 20 years. However, he thinks the Metaverse “will be some sort of evolutionary hybrid of network connectivity and network, plus spatial computing.” He adds that the term spatial computing is used in a broad sense, but here it refers to “right” 3D modeling of the real world, especially interactions through augmented and virtual reality.”

“How does all of this fit together? Honestly, nobody knows. But that’s okay. For the purpose of the forum, we don’t really need to know. We’re concerned with addressing interoperability issues that are clear in the near term,” Trevett said.

Trevett pointed out that the Internet already has several standards bodies, including of course the W3C, which develops web standards. As for the evolving Metaverse, the MSF (Metaverse Standards Forum) intends to help with coordination.”We will bring the standards bodies together and coordinate with each other, but we will also maintain a good and close relationship with the industry that intends to adopt our standards,” he said.

Tech giants such as Meta and Microsoft set up Metaverse Standard Forum, but no Apple

Part of MSF, Source: Khronos Group

The Metaverse as the Next Step in the Evolution of the Web

As I research and report on the Metaverse stack in 2022, the number one question on my mind has always been this: What role will the web play in enabling the “interoperability” that so many forum member companies claim to offer? Companies like Meta and Microsoft have become successful platforms because of the web, but companies like Epic Games and Unity are largely built on non-web technologies. So does MSF see the web as the underlying platform for the Metaverse?

Trevett replied: “Reinventing something that is completely disconnected from the web doesn’t make sense to me. The web is already so ubiquitous and so functional. The web is not my call, but you have to develop it. instead of trying to start over, it seems reasonable to do so.”

So the MSF mentality is to see the Metaverse as the evolution of the web. Having said that, Trevett also noted that a “spatialized web” requires “new protocols and new asset formats.” He adds that, just as we describe 2D web pages with HTML, “we also need the equivalent of 3D graphics, and all the ways in which we can interact with 3D graphics in the sense of connectivity.”

Tech giants such as Meta and Microsoft set up Metaverse Standard Forum, but no Apple

Khronos sees the Metaverse Standards Forum as “a possible collaboration opportunity between the two industry standards USD and glTF.” USD and gITF are currently two separate open standards.

Then I raised the issue of interoperability of 3D assets, especially avatars. In a recent column, I mentioned that there is a group of independent developers and startups trying to solve the interoperability problem using technologies such as glTF and VRM (a standard for 3D avatars built on glTF) to develop their own Open Metaverse version. The aim is to one day be able to use some kind of linking mechanism (or “portal”) to easily jump from one virtual world to another. Let’s say jumping from Meta’s future platform to Nvidia’s Omniverse. I asked Trevett if he thinks this is more realistic for the Metaverse as a vision?

“I think it’s a worthwhile goal,” he replied. “Everybody realizes how hard this is to solve. But if we stay where we are, we’ll never get there.”

According to Trevett, consistency and persistence are two key concepts for establishing avatar standards.

“There is a prevailing general mindset about the Metaverse that personal identity can be viewed both from a privacy and data perspective, as well as from an avatar and appearance perspective—in the various universes of the Metaverse, You can choose to use the same character. It’s a fairly common goal that everyone is pursuing. Another key word about the Metaverse is persistence. You put things in a virtual world and you come back in two weeks , that thing is still there.”

However, Trevett again warned that the process would be “Darwinian” to get there. Metaverse interoperability will also evolve under the guidance of the Metaverse Standards Forum.

not just another standards body

Trevett said the new group is “a discussion forum on top of the standards group.” The specific standardization work will still be done by existing groups such as Khronos. The new forum, he said, “is open to all, and we welcome any organization to join, there is no fee, no non-disclosure agreement, and no intellectual property framework.”

Tech giants such as Meta and Microsoft set up Metaverse Standard Forum, but no Apple

Source: Khronos Group

While the MSF is not a standards body, it does hope to help solve the interoperability challenges of the Metaverse industry. To help explain the conundrum, Trevett uses an analogy that all developers are familiar with: building blocks.

“I would say we’re laying bricks, bricks of interoperability,” he said. “We’re not going to design or build cathedrals yet. Because we don’t really know what cathedrals are going to look like, but we do know. , any church needs bricks. So we can do that in the short term and accelerate the process through things like hackathons and interoperability projects.”

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