Realizing the Potential of the Metaverse Will Require Industry Cooperation
We’re contributing to making the metaverse more useful and increasing the speed of innovation.
The early iterations of the internet were very different from what we are accustomed to now. After the basic elements were put in place, a series of new technologies and innovations rolled out over time.
I’m reminded of those days, given that we are at a similar early inception point with the metaverse. There’s a great deal of discussion and speculation about what it is and what it could be. It sounds like—and is—a concept pulled from science fiction. Some fun examples from past decades include the movies Tron, The Matrix, Lawnmower Man, and Inception; the hit book and movie Ready Player One; the novel Snow Crash; and the hit series Altered Carbon.
It’s not a single product, or an application, or a piece of hardware – it will be a collection of all of those things. Fundamentally, it’s about using technology to bring people together and make them feel like they’re interacting in person, even when they’re far apart. We do this today, of course, but behind a screen. The metaverse will allow us to do this as avatars, sitting and interacting together in a virtual space.
Like the internet, the metaverse has the potential to dramatically change our lives. Some elements already exist; for instance, we can host large groups of people in a single gaming server. However, the details, such as how many we might eventually be able to host – thousands or millions – remains to be seen. Some great examples that are metaverse-like today include the games Minecraft and Fortnite, which takes place in a kind of metaverse. Another example is Oculus VR headsets and the games such as Oculus Quest that they enable, though it’s important to note that the metaverse’s focus on being widely accessible means that it will not only be experienced through headsets.
The metaverse is motivating the novel integration and deployment of diverse technologies for collaborative spatial computing, such as interactive 3D graphics, augmented and virtual reality, photorealistic content authoring, geospatial systems, end-user content tooling, digital twins, real-time collaboration, physical simulation, online economies, multi-user gaming, and more – at new levels of scale and immersiveness. In my view, one of the more intriguing potential applications for the metaverse might be the ability to take virtual items, such as avatars, NFTs, or other content, from one platform to another.
Driving cooperation and collaboration
There’s a growing consensus that the potential of the metaverse will be best served by its being built on a foundation of open standards. The recently formed Metaverse Standards Forum provides a venue for cooperation between standards organizations and companies to collaborate on developing interoperability standards that will work for everyone. Its goals are to create an open and inclusive metaverse, and to accelerate their development and deployment through industry-wide cooperation.
This is important because the forum seeks to address one of the biggest issues with the metaverse so far: The lack of interoperability and standards to drive a coherent set of offerings in the future. The Forum is not a Standards Developing Organization (SDO), but will provide an accessible venue for existing SDOs to coordinate between themselves and with the wider industry. As such, they will not create standards, but will foster the creation and evolution of interoperability standards at SDOs by coordinating requirements and priorities and hosting ‘plugfest’ resources and projects.
Additionally, the Forum will focus on pragmatic, action-based projects such as implementation prototyping, hackathons, and open-source tooling to accelerate the testing and adoption of metaverse standards, while also developing consistent terminology and deployment guidelines. SDOs will continue to develop standards under their existing governance models and intellectual property frameworks.
When Megaport was recently presented with the opportunity to join the Metaverse Standards Forum, we immediately said yes. Our industry leadership and capabilities in bringing the cloud within reach on our global Software Defined Network will be key as customers seek cloud on-ramps to the metaverse. We want to be involved at the beginning to help establish standards for issues such as connectivity and how assets will be shuttled between sites. Since we already connect our customers to the world’s leading cloud providers, we already have an interest in driving interconnection. There’s a great deal of value in discussing standards early on so we don’t have to revisit its underpinnings after the technology has been widely used and accepted.
Encouraging scalability and advancement
According to Amdahl’s Law, the scalability of digital traffic is controlled by the slowest elements. This means that metaverse standards will need to reduce resistance from real-world constraints, such as authentication, networking constraints, bandwidth, and connectivity. Megaport will continue to provide the highest speed, lowest latency cloud on-ramp so customers have a great experience regardless of what metaverse apps or capabilities come along.
Nvidia’s Omniverse is another instance where people will need high speed and low latency between platforms. We can foresee the need for on-ramps for gaming, and the ability to quickly port content across platforms, such as staging a virtual concert on multiple platforms and across form factors. In fact, virtual worlds like Decentraland, The Sandbox, and Cryptovoxels as well as Facebook’s metaverse have hosted concerts. Musicians including Snoop Dogg, Marshmello, Young Thug and Travis Scott have hosted VR concerts, or have plans to do so.
We look forward to partnering with other industry leaders on the forum to increase the speed of innovation for the metaverse and make it more useful for a wider variety of scenarios.