The Washington Post reported in depth: What is the “Metaverse” that allows tech giants to compete to enter the market?

Focus in this issue

  • What is the meta universe?
  • How does metaspace work?
  • Who is the number one player in the meta universe?
  • Will the meta universe really happen?
  • Why do these companies still develop Meta Universe?

If you want to understand the predictions of technology companies for the future of the Internet, you can check it out from the 2018 sci-fi movie “Number One Player”.

The film is adapted from the 2011 Ernest Cline (Ernest Cline) novel. In order to escape his bleak life in the real world, the orphan protagonist in the film chooses to be immersed in a dazzling virtual reality. Whenever the boy puts on the helmet shaped like virtual reality glasses, he can dive into a psychedelic virtual universe called “OASIS”.

In the trailer, the protagonist said: “People come to OASIS to do what they want to do, but they stay here to be who they want to be.”

Some CEOs inspired by science fiction said that in the near future, people will gather in an interactive virtual reality world to enjoy games, adventures, shopping and virtual experiences, just like characters in movies.

However, this world is not called OASIS, but Metaverse.

Today’s virtual reality requires people to wear heavy helmets to achieve, and the game experience provided is also isolated, unable to interact with players wearing other devices. On the contrary, Metaspace will be a huge public network space, allowing people to seamlessly connect various activities with virtual avatars through the combination of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

This is a huge project that requires standardization work and promotes cooperation between technology giants. Although these giants are unwilling to cooperate with competitors, this has not hindered the development process of Metaverse.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Mark Zuckerberg) said on the earnings call in July that Facebook should become a “meta universe company.” He said that the company’s goal is to attract new users to the virtual world by using affordable head wear devices. In the end, this strong user base will bring about a huge advertising effect, and the “hundreds of millions” of Meta Universe users will “make its internal digital economy even larger.”

In recent weeks, Facebook has continued to move toward this vision, releasing a VR workspace for remote workers. The company is also investing billions of dollars to develop a smart wristband and VR glasses that can be projected onto the wearer’s eyes.

The Washington Post reported in depth: What is the "Metaverse" that allows tech giants to compete to enter the market?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will attend the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit in Salt Lake City in 2020 (GeorgeFrey/Bloomberg)

The meta universe has not yet formed, and we are not sure when it will appear. Although Zuckerberg promised to let 1 billion people use Oculus helmets in 2017, AR and VR have not yet received universal recognition from the public and are still a niche area.

But Facebook is not the only company that is aggressively betting on metaspace.

In May of this year, Microsoft stated that it was in a “unique position” in terms of artificial intelligence and mixed reality tools, and that it would be able to help companies start developing “Meta Universe APP” from now on. Some game companies, including Epic Games, the developer of “Fortnite”, have released meta-universe simulation software and VR services.

What is meta universe

This term was coined by writer Neil Stephenson in the 1992 dystopian novel Snow Crash. In the book, Metaverse refers to an immersive digital environment in which people interact with virtual avatars. The prefix “meta” means transcendence, and “verse” refers to the universe. Technology companies use this term to describe the future of the Internet-and this future may rely on VR glasses to achieve.

We can think of it as a tangible Internet that allows people to be on the scene, not just watching. This digital realm will not be limited to devices; virtual avatars can move around in cyberspace, just like life in the real world. Users can “in the same room” and interact with people on the other side of the globe.

However, in order to build a sound virtual world, everyone needs to be interested in VR and buy a VR headset. The technology needs to be fashionable and understandable enough to attract more people’s interest. At the same time, this technology also needs to be sophisticated enough for seamless connection. However, these have not yet been realized.

Facebook’s Oculus Quest2 helmet has a lightweight wireless design, but it has a great compromise on image clarity. The bulky VR glasses like HTC Vive Pro 2 are designed to ensure more information processing capabilities through wired design. Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2 is one of the most affordable VR glasses, priced at US$299, while the HTC Vive Pro 2 helmet starts at US$799 and does not include the cost of the controller.

How does metaspace work?

In theory, the way to log in to the metaspace is similar to the way to log in to the Internet, except that the content is viewed through a head-mounted display instead of a screen. At the same time, in order to track movements and grab objects, you also need to wear a device such as a Facebook wristband.

In order to create a perfect universe, Metaverse cannot belong to any company, just like the Internet does not belong to anyone. However, companies may try to establish monopolies in each corner of the metaverse, just like a few large technology companies dominate today’s online content. They can make money in Metaverse just like making money from APP through membership packages, shopping carts and advertisements.

Denise White, the founder of Blank XR, an immersive technology company, said: “There will definitely be a powerful Metaverse company. When we put on the new AR glasses and see holographic portraits walking around, then It is certain that we have entered the meta universe.”

Since different companies have launched their own devices, it is unclear how virtual avatars can move across devices. There is a theory that Metaverse can draw inspiration from web pages-just like we can browse different websites on our smartphones, our avatars can be constantly switched on compatible platforms, a video chat platform called Topia CEO Daniel Liebeskind (Daniel Liebeskind) said.

At the same time, he also believes: “Meta universe should be a collection of technology and experiential front-end and back-end, and these three should be coordinated.”

Who is the number one player in the meta universe?

Several large technology companies are making every effort to advance the development of Metaverse.

Out of the vision of Metaverse, Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014. Zuckerberg said in a statement at the time that Facebook was laying the “future social platform.” Recently, Facebook has launched a new set of products to build a new three-dimensional social space and establish a “transit station” to connect different services together.

In May, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (Satya Nadella) stated that the company is building an “enterprise meta-universe.” A month ago, EpicGames stated that it had raised $1 billion to build its meta-universe plan. Information technology giant Nvidia and gaming platform Roblox are also advancing side by side in this field. Last year, Spatial released a free AR application to help users appear in virtual avatars in real environments. At the same time, Snapchat has been moving in this direction for many years and has introduced custom avatars and filters to overlap the real world with digital content. In terms of AR, Apple has also formulated a long-term plan.

Magic Leap was one of the first companies that attracted people’s attention in this area. The company released an AR application in 2011. According to the information on its website, this application is now mainly for business sales.

Nevertheless, start-up companies still have a lot of opportunities to enter, because the digital world needs a lot of content, tools, and places for users to browse and use.

Will the meta universe really happen?

We do not yet know the answer to this question. Although technological advancements in recent years have made VR headsets lighter and cheaper, these devices are mainly used by niche groups such as gamers. Today, this situation has not changed, and most gamers have not installed a VR system. According to the Entertainment Software Association (Entertainment Software Association) data, only 29% of the 169 million gamers in the United States said they own a VR headset.

Benedict Evans, a technology analyst and former partner of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, said: “At present, people think that VR is a sub-product of game consoles. We don’t know whether it is Can break through such stereotypes. “Games are a big business. There are hundreds of millions of gamers around the world, but only hundreds of millions of people. So it is not an experience that covers everyone. “

Why do these companies still develop Meta Universe?

Each company will give a different answer.

VR companies will say that consumers have become obsessed with social media. They want new places to interact and attract people to like. It’s just a matter of time. Metaverse allows people who are tired of filter retouching and video editing tools to show a new image in a virtual way, and show their creativity or financial status through their avatars. At the same time, Metaverse can also encourage young people to spend more time online.

For many years, Facebook has called its mission “to let people meet online.” This connection can be achieved through social network apps and business services, or through VR. Zuckerberg believes that Metaverse is part of the company’s natural evolution to allow people to switch between VR, AR, personal computers and traditional smartphones.

From a more conspiracy theoretic point of view, if VR devices become popular, this will allow Facebook to call the wind and rain in this area, thereby evading privacy agreements and app store fees charged by Apple and Google.

Nikita Anufriev, chief product officer of Dreamcam, a VR webcam company, pointed out: “This will enable Facebook to achieve everything they can’t do in the Apple Store or the Google Play Store.”

At the same time, this will also create new sources of income for Facebook and other companies. QReal is a startup company that creates three-dimensional models for VR. Its general manager Mike Cadoux said: “If you can create a universal pair of AR glasses, you can own the entire platform. Every user is Consumers of this platform.”

Other companies that do not want to fall behind may also be investing and developing Metaverse, and some companies are also making other attempts to fully examine various possibilities.

“Like kids who want to live in science fiction, we all want life to be as fun as games,” said Jon Morris, founder of Nowhere, a virtual activity platform. “Now, there are no tools to realize this vision on the Internet.”

Star Finance Tip: This article is compiled from washingtonpost.com.

 

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