November 12, 2021

Metaverse! Metaverse! Metaverse!

By

Erik Horn

There’s been an awful lot of Metaverse talk this year. From Facebook’s name change unveiling, to Microsoft Mesh (new avatars for Teams), to Roblox having a monster year, the term “Metaverse” is in almost every tech story you read. Including this one this week from Disney.

It has all reminded me of one very specific thing, another hype train.

A looping gif of the miniature monorail model from teh Simpsons episode.
Monorail! Monorail! Monorail!

With all of the hype around the Metaverse I couldn't help but think about the classic Conan O'Brien episode of the Simpsons and it's ill fated Monorail.

Now that doesn't mean I think the Metaverse will fail like the Monorail (or the escalator to nowhere), but I do think there is a bit of huckster hype as everyone tries to jump aboard. The metaphor will run out of steam eventually...ugh.

But what is the Metaverse? Or what do we interpret it as? In my opinion, simply - it’s the internet...in 3D. And not every part of the internet NEEDS to be 3d, but virtual worlds, spaces and experiences that we haven’t dreamed up yet will be commonplace in the near future. It’s a world where the flat screen has been replaced with fully spatial computing and experiences. And it’s (hopefully) open.

The above is a clip from the Meta announcement, which is where I couldn't help but think about Phil Hartman's Monorail Music Man.

With Facebook planting a flag with the name Meta, it’s almost as if they re-named themselves “Internet.” It will be a part of an overall Metaverse, but not the Metaverse itself. Anything that’s not walled off will be closer to a modern video game than a truly open “spatial internet.

One thing is certain - there is about to be an explosion in 3D content and the tools to create 3D experiences. We are constantly evaluating the best way to model, capture and render 3D - and it changes every week.

Silly Simpson memes aside, this is the closest I have found to a great breakdown of what the Metaverse should and will be from Unity’s Tony Parisi. 

https://medium.com/meta-verses/the-seven-rules-of-the-metaverse-7d4e06fa864c

And the audio breakdown from the great Kent Bye.

https://voicesofvr.com/parisis-metaverse-manifesto-unpacking-his-seven-rules-for-the-metaverse/

Speaking of Unity, do you think Apple will allow content created with (Unity competitor) The Epic Unreal Engine on their eventual Metaverse? It will be interesting to see. I mean, IF they attempt to create their own walled off Metaverse...of course they will.

The metaverse take we may be the most interested in is the AR Metaverse. We've been using Niantic Lightship for some internal projects we can't talk about yet and are intrigued by Niantic CEO John Hanke's vison of a Metaverse that enhances daily life and the outdoors.

Since Fair Worlds began we've been waiting for a simple way for our two teams in Seattle and Austin to easily be able to hop into a shared VR space for meetings, and it's still not here yet IMO. We've yet to land on a solution that is simple enough for daily use, but I'm confident something is coming, from Meta or otherwise.

But back in Actual Reality Iceland is the surprise winner of the Metaverse wars...