Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has invested billions to make the company formerly known as Facebook the first social media experience in the metaverse. This month, gamers of Meta’s Oculus Quest 3D virtual reality (VR) headset games got a taste of what it might eventually look like.
Despite the investment of time, money and prestige involved in renaming the company, Zuckerberg hadn’t made much headway towards creating an immersive virtual reality in which people could actually socialize. .
That changed on June 14 when the company published an update to Meta Horizon Home that transformed what was essentially a launch site – where players of 3D games went between signing on and choosing a game to play, or a “staging space” – into a real, even very preliminary, metaverse space.
See also: Quest VR update adds social outings on Meta Horizon
While users could customize it to look like a snowy mountain hut or a cyberpunk crash pad, the connected experience wasn’t really there. Now users can invite their friends to hang out, watch movies and concerts, and strategize before engaging in multiplayer games.
As for how far away a true metaverse is, June 20, Zuckerberg show the progress the company has made in developing VR headset technology that can make the Metaverse more than a very cartoonish experience.
The good news is that they’re making progress on a number of technologies to improve the experience. For example, a helmet prototype deals with focal depth.
“Normal monitors are at a set distance, so you only focus on one spot,” Zuckerberg said. “But in virtual reality and augmented reality, you need to be able to focus on things very close and very far from you.”
This requires eye tracking and “correcting optical distortion in software so quickly that it is imperceptible to the human eye,” he added. Others deal with the much higher resolution and brightness needed for a realistic experience.
The bad news is that they all share one characteristic: they’re huge, and they all need to be shrunk into a single helmet that’s light enough to wear for hours.
On a broader metaverse development note, Meta joined Microsoft, Alibaba, Sony Interactive Entertainment, and several hundred other technology companies and organizations to launch the Metaverse Standards Forum June 21st. The goal is to create “a place of cooperation between standards bodies and businesses to foster the development of interoperability standards for an open and inclusive metaverse”.
Read more: Chinese Tencent Holdings launches Metaverse division
Not all fun and games
German engineering and tech giant Siemens and chipmaker Nvidia have teamed up to create an industrial metaverse where companies can design and test everything from factory owners to entire factories in a ‘hands-on’ experience 3D.
“We can essentially replace the requirement to build a real-world thing first,” Tony Hemmelgarn, CEO of Siemens Digital Industries Software, told Reuters on June 29.
The goal, he added, is to try and make sure things “will work well before committing to building them in the real world when it gets really expensive and hard to change”.
Related: Siemens, Nvidia, team up for Industrial Metaverse
On a smaller scale, Lowe’s launched a metaverse hub aimed at helping people visualize home decorating and improvement projects – using products available from the home improvement retailer.
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