Facebook in the Madness Metaverse

In context: ask Zuckerberg and apparently we now live on the edge of the metaverse. Over the past year, the idea that we will all live in virtual worlds has become inescapable in the world of investors. With the stock market no longer in the mood for Story Stocks, the passionate rhetoric around the Metaverse has died down significantly, but we know that many still feel that the Metaverse story resonates strongly.

How many people remember the last time the idea of ​​a second world was the hot topic of the moment?

Not long ago. In fact, the last time this idea was in vogue was in the late stages of the dot com boom of the 1990s. People have been speculating about this for a long time. These days, Snowcrash by author Neal Stephenson is cited as the originator of the concept, but even he will admit he wasn’t the first (note: Snowcrash is still a great book, well worth reading).

Editor’s note:
Guest author Jonathan Goldberg is the founder of D2D Advisory, a cross-functional consulting firm. Jonathan has developed growth strategies and alliances for companies in the mobile, networking, gaming and software industries.

The best visual representation of this virtual world can be seen in the 1994 Michael Douglas/Michael Crichton film “Disclosure.” (Note: Discovery is not a good movie and not worth watching.) For those who have suffered, the virtual reality world at the heart of the film’s “plot” is painfully heavy. And of course, there’s the classic Second Life website, which has done much of what today’s metaverse proponents are talking about (albeit in low resolution).

All of this is a long way of saying that the idea of ​​the metaverse has been around for a long time and that we’re not quite there yet can be attributed to two main reasons.

First, reproducing the real world in a form of digital simulation may not be the best way to organize digital activity. At the height of last year’s metaverse frenzy, Walmart drew a lot of shade online for its virtual reality shopping demo.

We don’t want to lump it, pay tribute to them for their creativity, but this video highlights the issues of virtual worlds that are too skeuomorphic, looking too much like the real world. No one wants to shop while walking down virtual aisles when they just point and click on an Amazon app in regular reality. At the very least, all these conversational efforts towards VR need to do a lot more work on the user interface. As artist/musician Laurie Anderson said – VR won’t flow until they learn how to put dirt in it.

“VR won’t flow until they learn how to put dirt in it” – Laurie Anderson

A second problem is that the technology just isn’t there yet. We wrote about this years ago in 2016 (and later in 2019). And while the industry has made progress since then, it still has a long way to go.

There are really two flavors of metaverse – the fully immersive world of virtual reality (VR) where the user wears a hat and all images are digitally generated; and the world of augmented reality (AR), where users wear a pair of glasses that display a digital overlay on top of the real world.

Certainly, the industry has made significant progress with VR. Most people think Oculus by Facebook/Meta is a great product. There is a fair amount of software available for this, and the use cases have expanded beyond gaming to include remote work computers. And while most people who spend the day working behind VR glasses need a day to adjust to reality, it seems that VR has made real progress.

In contrast, AR is still a work in progress as it presents serious technical challenges. For example, the computation and battery of the AR glasses still require a large amount of miniaturization. Most of the implementations we’ve seen are either clunky or feature-limited.

1648466115 947 Metaverse What it is and why you should care

Putting a digital overlay on a real-world image is incredibly difficult. Graphics must refresh quickly enough to allow for free head movement, otherwise the lag creates nausea as users see two out-of-sync worlds simultaneously. This requires immense graphics processing – for which see above about miniaturization. It also requires very high bandwidth and low latency data connections.

That last part is probably why we hear so much about Metaverse personally. From our well established position in the world of telecommunications networks, the solution to this bandwidth/latency problem is 5G!

Telecom operators and especially their equipment manufacturers are taking every opportunity to extol the virtues of 5G (which are otherwise quite limited), and many have taken AR seriously. Unfortunately for them, 5G is only part of the solution, other technical challenges and the software and content required simply aren’t ready yet.

We still think all these things will happen one day, but the metaverse is years away.

Read also: Metaverse: What is it and why should you care?

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