The next stop of the Metaverse: preview the real universe to achieve “presence”

“It is not advisable to frame the Metaverse with a fixed definition. The Metaverse is a virtual world parallel to our real world.”

“Turn on our system and wear this AR device, and you can visit Dunhuang cultural exhibitions without leaving your home. Within a square inch, you can experience the feeling of visiting a hall of thousands of square meters, which can almost be faked.”

Recently, I have visited several Metaverse research institutions/companies intensively, experienced various Metaverse equipment and products, and heard various voices. I myself have had in-depth communication with some people in the industry, and exchanged some views and perspectives on the development of the Metaverse.

What impresses me the most is that with policy guidance + the layout of mainstream technology companies + the investment of research efforts by authoritative institutions, Metaverse has passed the early stage of concept speculation, and various technologies and products have begun to be implemented intensively. And what is commendable is that the industry has formed some practical and applicable consensus on the future development direction of the Metaverse.

Not long ago, during the Tencent Technology Innovation Week for Good, Si Xiao, Vice President of Tencent Group and Dean of Tencent Research Institute, delivered a keynote speech entitled “Offline, Online, On-Site”. This speech contains a lot of information, and the most interesting thing is this statement: building a simulated world in a virtual space, virtual enhancement of the real world, and achieving a real sense of presence are inevitable for technological upgrading and evolution.

The next stop of the Metaverse: preview the real universe to achieve "presence"

In my opinion, the background of this view is that after more than 20 years of development, the Internet has mainly realized the historical change from “offline” to “online”, liberating productivity and breaking the threshold of efficiency.From “online” to “presence” is the future trend of technological development, and it is also the general trend of the integration of digital and reality. Even if there is no Metaverse concept, other concepts will appear to match this trend.

Interestingly, the recent discussion of the Metaverse by a number of Internet bigwigs also supports Si Xiao’s “presence” related views from one level.

Liang Jianzhang, founder of Ctrip, recently commented on the Metaverse on the Moments. In Liang Jianzhang’s view, although the real universe will not be replaced by the Metaverse, the Metaverse can promote the exploration of the real universe. It is necessary to make the travel experience better, more interesting and interactive, and turn the Metaverse concepts and technologies into a source of inspiration for users to explore the real universe. You can use virtual reality to preview the real universe and inspire the inspiration and willingness to explore the real universe.

The next stop of the Metaverse: preview the real universe to achieve "presence"

Liang Jianzhang and Si Xiao’s discussions coincide, and behind the coincidence is the technology industry’s high recognition of the future direction of technological development and evolution, that is, the realization of “presence” is one of the important evolution directions of the Metaverse, and it is also the next step. The inevitable direction of a generation of Internet technology.

It’s not that “presence” needs the Metaverse, it’s that the Metaverse needs “presence.”

As we all know, Metaverse is not an independent technology, it at least includes technologies or products such as artificial intelligence, big data, Internet of Things, blockchain, 3D engine, communication technology, VR/AR technology equipment, etc., involving the upstream and downstream of the industrial chain of many institutions and enterprises. As the technology collection of the next-generation Internet, the application of the “presence” of the Metaverse requires the organic cooperation of all aspects.

Several cases mentioned by Si Xiao in the evolution are very representative. For example, “The Matrix: Awakening” launched by Epic Games (Note: Tencent invested in the company, representative works include “Fortnite”), I have watched the promotional video several times, but I can’t tell which are the actual shots of Keanu Reeves , which are CG cutscenes, which are game-tested scenes, and of course they may all be game-tested pictures. This game based on the Unreal 5 engine, with the help of the latest virtual geometry and dynamic global illumination technology, applies a series of AI technologies, so that the characters in the game seem to have a bionic consciousness, which has made it more difficult for old players like me to distinguish virtual with reality.

I think this kind of game, if it can be equipped with the latest VR/AR equipment, or even more advanced brain-computer interface equipment in the future, it will really give people a sense of “stupid and indistinguishable” on-the-spot experience.

Of course, games are only the tip of the iceberg of Metaverse applications, and the more inspiring industries such as education, medical care, agriculture, and office work are inseparable from this “presence” practice.

Not long ago, Baidu held “the industry’s first conference to be held in the Metaverse”. Through the Xiyong APP, up to 100,000 people can “attend on the spot”. Everyone has a fixed seat in the virtual world and needs to comply with the corresponding regulations. order of the venue.

In my previous article, I also shared a case of healing inner pain through a virtual world. This case can be regarded as a case of “on-the-spot application” in the medical field. There is a Korean mother, Jang Ji-sung, who lost her 7-year-old daughter. Whenever she thinks of her daughter, she is always in grief. Later, a production team borrowed virtual reality technology to help her reunite with her daughter in the Metaverse world. When the daughter in the Metaverse shouted “Mom, mom” and ran to Jang Ji-sung, everyone burst into tears.

The next stop of the Metaverse: preview the real universe to achieve "presence"

In the past two days, a farmer put on VR glasses for cows to see the scenery, and the news of the increase in milk production is believed to have been seen by everyone. When cows wear VR glasses, they will feel like they are in nature, grazing freely on sunny pastures. This way, the cows are in a better mood and their milk production will increase.

Friends who have used Tencent Conference all know that Tencent Conference has a function of switching scenes, and you can choose various virtual backgrounds. When I’m at home, I like to switch to a white office style and interact remotely with guests from all over the country. However, there is still a lot of room for upgrading this technology. If it can be done well in the future, it is expected to achieve a real “the world is close to each other” meeting experience.

In particular, I want to share with you one of my facial capture experiences. Last month, I visited the Metaverse Laboratory, and the relevant person in charge of the laboratory let me experience the facial expression capture technology. Just through a tablet computer and built-in software, my facial expressions were projected to the digital virtual human on the screen. What kind of expression, the virtual human can feedback the synchronized expression in time. This technology can provide updated solutions for our interactions, whether social, office, or even entertainment interactions, allowing remote avatars to come to the scene in person and leave the same room.

The next stop of the Metaverse: preview the real universe to achieve "presence"

As the saying goes, the spring river plumbing ducks the prophet. In the next direction of the development of the Metaverse, the policy wind direction is this duck.

On December 21, 2021, the much-anticipated Shanghai Municipal Party Committee Economic Work Conference was held as scheduled. At the meeting, Li Qiang, secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee, pointed out that enterprises should be guided to step up research on an important platform for the interaction between the virtual world and the real society in the future. Attach great importance to the dominance of technology iteration, the right to define industry standards, and the right to distribute value patterns that end products have, and accelerate the development of new end products that are directly oriented to individual consumers and are household names.

The “interaction between the virtual world and the real society” mentioned by Secretary Li Qiang is essentially the “construction of a simulated world and a real sense of presence” mentioned above.

Tencent talked about the concept of the Metaverse in the Science and Technology Innovation Week, and Si Xiao proposed the “presence” argument, which is obviously not a temporary move, but based on long-term accumulation and observation. Many people don’t know that Tencent is actually the pioneer of the domestic Metaverse industry layout. The “full true Internet” proposed by Tencent earlier is the predecessor of the “Metaverse” concept.

At present, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong and other places are encouraging the exploration of the Metaverse from the policy level, and the direction of encouragement is mostly inseparable from the aspects of “previewing the real world in a virtual world”, “building a simulated world”, “digital twin” and so on. The wind direction of the policy is a great benefit to our enterprises and entrepreneurs. We must seize this wave of opportunities and actively explore new knowledge and unknowns.

Written at the end: The Metaverse is hot right now, but innovation and bubbles coexist. With the rapid development of the industry, we must also have more rational and cold thinking. Only by understanding the future evolution direction of the Metaverse and the Internet from the height of the ideological system can we plan the overall situation. Only by following consumption and market demands and thinking about problems from an application perspective can various concepts be better put into practice.

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