On October 28, 2020, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company would be changing its name to Meta Platforms, Inc. or Meta for short. On that same day, Zuckerberg released a pre-recorded keynote address about the company’s vision for the future. With their focus on the “next evolution of social connection”, Meta wants to transport users into different spaces and re-imagines the use of avatars, gaming and commerce.
The metaverse is the next evolution of social connection. The metaverse is going to be the “embodied internet”, meaning users will be “in” the experience as opposed to just looking at a screen. In other words, it’s designed to immerse you in the experience with a combination of virtual reality, augmented reality, and physical aspects as well. Only certain pieces of the technology to allow the metaverse to be a reality have been developed. The development work will take years to be fully realized. The defining quality of the metaverse is “presence”. The user should be able to feel like they are actually with other people.
The metaverse immersive replacement for Facebook will be Horizon. It will be divided into three sections – Home, World, and Workrooms. Users will be able to jump or teleport between sections. It’s very similar to hyperlinks in the current digital vernacular.
One very key aspect of the metaverse will be the avatars that people create to represent themselves. Avatars can be stylized, fairly realistic for work, animated, or even photorealistic. Multiple avatars will be allowed to match the situation (work, play, gaming, etc.)
Spark AR is the development tool to allow creation of objects within the metaverse. It is designed to be simple to use and will allow creators to develop and monetize their creations within the metaverse. There will be a professional curriculum and certification process for Spark AR developers. The curriculum will be on edX and Coursera.
Gaming will be the introduction to the metaverse for most people – mainly VR games through Oculus Quest and Ray Ban Stories smart glasses.
Commerce will be a huge part of the metaverse. Users will be able to sell and buy physical and digital products. Most of these products will be NFTs. Meta's goal is to reach 1 billion people in the next decade and host $100 billion in digital commerce.
The metaverse will be a “Presence” platform, or a mixed reality of physical and digital components. Interaction tech is still in its infancy, but progress is being made. Interaction SDK will provide the ability to add hand interactions to apps. This will be things like what you use a mouse for now. Voice SDK – will let developers add voice controls to apps. An example of an interactive is wrist-based neural interfaces that allow for digital commands for AR glasses.