Metaverses 101: present & future of the top-hype phenomenon of 2022 | by JetStyle | Sep, 2022 | Virtual Reality

Hi there,

This is JetStyle. We have been a bit too quiet for a while, but it’s going to change: we have so much to share with you. Lately we’ve been engaged in research & development of Metaverses and XR, so there’s a lot of content coming your way.

We spoke to Alex Markin, JetStyle co-founder and Creative Director of JetXR, a division working solely with XR technologies, to elicit answers to most frequently asked questions about the phenomenon. This longread will focus on various aspects of metaverses: their properties, business-related benefits, development barriers, long- and short-distance prospects and JetStyle’s primary goal on growth in the sphere.

You may have noticed that we use “metaverses” as a countable noun. There’ve been tons of discussions on the future of the metaverse. Most probably, eventually we will face just one meta-space. However, at this moment, we tend to believe in the “plural” character of this phenomenon. As now we are dealing with little fragments — mini-verses — which might be joined into one.

The history of the Internet has already taught us some lessons: in the course of its development, lots and lots of different “-nets” were bunched together to form the Big Net.

Basically, a metaverse is a way to expand reality with new layers. At the same time, a meta-environment shares entities with the real one: people look “normal”; they interact, chat, move, etc.

This “recreated” universe is even more real than the Internet we’re all in. Which means it is going to increasingly occupy our thoughts and take more human resources than the Internet. Which, in its turn, means we inevitably have to explore this concept and store up some expertise before it becomes a mass phenomenon.

We will concentrate specifically on VR, as the first prototype experience you can get in metaverses. Three basic features of a metaverse will be:

  • Immersiveness. Metaverses destroy the boundaries between people and environments. For many, VR might be the first and only experience of interacting within a frameless interface.
  • Predictiveness. The interface systems are becoming more and more focused on predicting our next actions. This might overthrow the old paradigm, in which a human was the initiator of an action.
  • Inclusiveness. The notion of “I” is about to be reconsidered, as VR is involving a human body more and more — thus giving it more freedom to influence the space.

Our experience shows that metaverse is most beneficial for game dev, entertainment, education, traveling and shopping industries.

Let’s dive in:

  1. Metaverses build engagement

A virtual reality is almost impossible to ignore, as it occupies 100% of a user’s attention. The only way to get rid of it is to take off your VR helmet; At the same time, VR is the closest possible thing to physical interaction Any brand could use this feature to enhance its audience engagement level.

2. Metaverses are in line with the tech trend

Oculus Quest reported sales growth, which indicates higher accessibility of VR equipment for the general audience.

3. Metaverses are in line with the social trend

The online and offline environments intertwined after Covid; it changed people’s needs: remote interaction has reached (and is remaining at) its peak relevance for everybody.

+ Gaming experience has been forcing reality to include interactive communication. There are lots of people expecting virtual reality to respond as immersively as 3D gaming interfaces.

4. Metaverses are great for teaching skills

VR simulators are a perfect choice when a company needs to train its employees and make the process safe, immersive, effective and cost-efficient. With a VR simulator, it takes zero time and effort to learn the interface so an employee can immediately start the training.

5. …and for building a corporate culture

Your own corporate metaverse is a place where you can get your global team together in a click. One virtual room for all meetings, demos, workshops and lectures — they only need to put on their headsets to come in.

6. Metaverses are exciting

Metaverses are a true way to escape reality, as they provide a plethora of emotions and sensations to anyone who has entered them for the first time. Excitement depends directly on the quality of VR design.

1. Limited input-output tools

Humans are imperfect. While we still cannot enjoy The Matrix’ “brain-computer” interfaces, this imperfection will go on causing problems on so many levels. In more detailed terms:

First of all, the VR space is limited, so you cannot move as freely as you’d like to.

Secondly, the existing technical tools cannot reproduce the physical sensation such as smell and touch. No matter how many wires and sensors we wrap around ourselves, it is always not enough.

Thirdly, network latency is always there and always causes problems; usually, the Internet connection is not enough to cater to all the needs of metaverses. This is why there isn’t an existing multiplayer game that would ensure adequate throwing objects. When we throw something in a multiuser mode, the first step is rendering this object via servers; then all the participants receive its coordinates, and only in this situation will it be a synchronous action. However, today the net does not provide this kind of seamless experience.

Fourthly, the capacity. The virtual spaces of World of Warcraft, Counter-Strike, Minecraft can hold an infinite number of objects and environment items, but only a couple-dozen players.

2. Lack of content

If you compare the volumes of content created on the Internet and what’s needed for metaverses, the difference will be truly dramatic. We need so many more content creators for the meta-world.

Alternative mission is looking for ways to produce the content by means of machine learning. It could be sources similar to Midjourney or DALL-E (services to create images out of text descriptions).

BTW, all visuals for this article have been created by Midjourney. It’s so exciting to see where it all goes.

3. Centralism

If we take a look at metaverses developers, the list will mostly consist of the ‘big guys’: Microsoft, Meta, Epic, etc. Metaverses created by these corporations are separate from each other, as each of them follows their own protocols and rules. One cannot switch between different metaverses using the same avatar and other virtual values.

The Internet developed according to the same pattern. Web 1.0 was a place where everyone created their own pages and uploaded them to their own separate servers. Web 2.0 (Google and Facebook) appeared and centered everything around itself. Authorization and storage tools were created to become the privilege belonging to just 4–5 big market members. Web 3 seems the closest thing to what a united metaverse should look like in the future.

Centralism is not so bad, as it is a very natural concept for corporations. Yet again, it might be a barrier for the big united metaverse we envision for the future.

1. Full body tracking

From the technical point of view, the most advanced meta universes to-date are Horizon by Meta or Rec Room. Their avatars are “halved” and you can only see the upper part of the body, because the equipment is not designed in a way to allow tracking the whole body. This is the thing all meta developers need to overcome: your legs are supposed to be an element of the full picture if we want to speak the language of immersiveness.

Try Free-Roam VR if you have a chance. This is the experience that allows free movement in a special outfit — and it changes the game forever. At the same time, this type of VR is not really relevant if you want to hop on a 5-minute meeting with your colleagues. Oculus Quest we’ve mentioned before gained its popularity due to the fact it is not so energy consuming. You just need to put on your headset and grab the controllers, and you’ll find yourself in VR.

Another barrier is lack of understanding how to deal with the body information that we cannot track. There is a huge world-wide discussion on how to complete the picture of a body in VR without causing a sensory disconnection.

We see the alternatives indicating that full body tracking is possible in the near future. For instance, you could place cameras on the controllers, and they will provide an average-quality body tracking. Some gamedev software finetunes the characters’ movements with neural networks so that they look natural. So there is a possibility that combining data from controller cameras and neural nets will help us achieve more adequate body tracking experience.

2. Emotion recognition

Mark Zuckerberg has been trying hard to invite his colleagues to work together in Horizon Venues and Workrooms. However, people still tend to choose Zoom over VR spaces, as they can see each other’s faces and read each other’s emotions.

Oculus Quest 2, as advanced as it may be, has no facial expression tracking. So we never know if the other person is smiling or frowning. At least we can see the body language, which is better than nothing.

This is about to change with Cambria, a new headset by Mark Zuckerberg that will have cameras to read and reproduce emotions. However, there’s also a chance that it will be harder to hide your lack of involvement or dissatisfaction from your employer. But this Black Mirror work environment is another theme to cover.

3. A common Metaverse standard

It still remains unclear how one can transport from one part of a metaverse to another and preserve their digital values, such as avatars and items. We hope that blockchain, NFT and human communication will do the trick and people will agree on one unified format of metaverses.

4. Digital voice mail responder

These days we are witnessing examples of pretty decent auto attendants that can react to direct addressing with both text and emotion. Sometimes they are even hard to differentiate from a human being. And it’s getting better (or worse, depending on what you think about it) — a person will be able to delegate a portion of their routine tasks to its avatar in a metaverse.

All of the abovementioned is going to happen in the future sooner or later.

1. Corpo-verse

While we still don’t know how to switch between metaverses, the nearest future will be dedicated to developing corporate metaverses for companies’ use.

2. Immersiveness

This feature is going to improve in the upcoming feature. Cambria and Oculus Quest 3 will be released soon, which signals the new era of immersiveness. The latter is quite affordable, so the technology will be accessible to the audience.

3. Collective experience

Digitalization + increased engagement will change the way teams interact and improve their skills.

At JetXR, we personally put our faith and mental powers into developing corporate metaverses. This is what we are working on right now. Corpoverses are a universally understandable product in high demand. Teams need it right now and will appreciate it in the future. There are aspects we need to take into consideration while we’re getting ready for the Big Metaverse to appear, such as network specifics, approaches to immersiveness, motion disease treatment, etc.

If you’re looking for ways to engage more with Metaverses — we are here to help you navigate through this spectaculous new world. Drop us a line at [email protected] or here in the comments. We’re happy to chat!

Also, subscribe to our social media (Facebook, LinkedIn) if you’d like to learn more about XR and Metaverses and check out our cases. See ya!

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