Open Social Metaverse

Soon we will traverse a different type of internet experience, one where you have a digital embodied social presence within. The virtual reality web will become something that we are actually present in as opposed to something we browse as an outsider or observer. How we travel from site to site will be a crucial part of the experience and could make or break the immersion of being inside such an experiential medium. The metaverse, an evolved digital universe, a new frontier, the Wild West of virtual reality.

The metaverse — the Wild West of virtual reality.

Teleporting from place to place, such as shopping for sandals at a beach side market, then dropping in to ordering a pizza with your favorite toppings by actually building it, then jumping back into the farming simulator experience you’ve been growing crops and selling for a few fractions of a BTC or Etherum coin to someone who needs it for their virtual pet. The question is “how do we get from one place to the next in a seamless manor?” As the architects of this new place we have unlimited potential to sell products in new ways than the medium before. Instead of creating a virtual shoe store

Having a physical presence inside of the metaverse means that we would be embodying some sort of entity, potentially. The most simple way this could be accomplished in the near future is through the use of an open avatar system. Currently, Oculus is leading talks of this with an Avatar API system with the introduction of their new IP, Oculus Rooms, “coming this year.” This introduces a world of complexity, while giving a great deal of power to creators. Can anyone show up to a metaverse site supporting the Avatar API and their personal avatar is displayed for others? Can you speak to others freely in the metaverse? Can you go incognito and be a fly on the wall? Would there be a queue of avatars waiting to become visible because the site only supports 15 visible avatars? This introduces new social dynamics, such as, what are visible avatars called in the metaverse? Are a majority of users itching to become visible or will most people opt out of ever becoming visible? What visual indications do we have that let us know that we are visible?

..what are visible avatars called in the metaverse?

An important and key mechanic in the actualization of the metaverse will be navigation. How do we get out of where we are and to the next place we want to go? How do we know these places exist? Who will the gate keepers be? Will we go to a VR version of Facebook and rely on what is trending to lead us around the metaverse?  Currently the gateway to different endpoints in WebVR is somewhat droll, as expected. There isn’t actually a true metaverse in existence, but as soon as WebVR can support the quality that is needed in a 90FPS metaverse experience, we will see it explode.

Who will the gate keepers be?

The key to a successful metaverse has a few crucial components.

tl;dr –

1. Social and annonymous

2. Open and free

3. Consistency i.e. web dev standards

4. Accessibility to all with compatible devices

1. The metaverse needs to feel alive and social where it makes sense.
2. The metaverse needs to be an open platform and accessible to anyone to create an endpoint or throughpoint. What project Sansar is doing is really cool stuff, but it’s not the true metaverse since it’s a walled garden experience.
3. The metaverse needs to have social aspects built into the browsers. Just as we log into Chrome, we need something built in that stores payment and avatar info. Maybe a common third party such as Google or Facebook will store avatar data and a metaverse location will simply do a query to which API to use. Commonality and consistency for avatars will be important. Also style might be important to a metaverse creator, toon vs realistic.
4. The metaverse needs accessible ways to be navigated, whether via voice command or a common interface every user is familiar with.

These are my opinions about what we need from the hypothetical metaverse

Really Virtual

Geared for the Future

The Gear VR will be handed out for free with the new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. If you pre-order today you will be in line to receive a Gear VR when the device ships later this year. The news comes right after Samsung’s live streamed VR event, where users connected using current Gear VR models and compatible devices.

This will put Gear VR headsets into the hands of millions of users and thrust VR into consumer space at an even higher rate than we’ve seen thus far. Expect mobile VR app and game development to rise at an equal rate.

Mobile Rendering Bump

Mobile device technology is now exceeding console technology that we saw with even the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360. Unreal just announced integration with Vulkan API and a beautiful demo to go along with it called Protostar. The new API allows for a much higher amount of content and optimized rendering gear specifically for mobile. This reduces the overhead of existing technologies such as OpenGL. With this advancement, expect VR experiences to run much more smoothly and reduce some of the motion issues we’ve experienced with many current VR games and apps.

Eye Tracking

And in other news, SensoMotoric Instruments has just released information on eye tracking for the Gear VR. Something many of us have been hoping would integrate into VR sooner than later. There is much to be said about current social apps for VR, and after spending only a few hours total in Oculus Social, the topic of eye tracking has been talked about multiple times. Currently apps fake eye contact, giving you the illusion someone is looking you in the eyes.