Zuckerberg and the parallel universe: what the Facebook metaverse is and how it will work

Facebook is absolutely not in crisis, quite the contrary! How many have we heard that Facebook is out of date? What is an outdated social network? Who no longer uses it, especially among young people? Then, considering the lawsuits the US government is filing against Facebook, it looks like it's a dying company. But are we sure that this is the case?

In the first half of 2021 Facebook recorded a 57% increase in revenues , largely due to the sale of advertising space, and a monthly increase in active users of 7% (about 190 million new active users each month) and is was the fastest growing social network, especially in developing countries, with an average of 2.8 billion active users every month.

If we add to this that Facebook also owns Instagram and Whatsapp , the picture that emerges is that of a company that is anything but in difficulty, indeed it is one of the most solid and healthy in the field of technologies and information technology, and to demonstrate this there are also the huge investments, about 5 billion dollars a year, which it intends to dedicate to the creation of a new augmented reality: the metaverse .

What exactly is meant by metaverse?

The term metaverse was coined by the American science fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his 1992 cult novel, "Snow crash", and indicates a 3D virtual world shared on the worldwide network that anyone can access , and in which to interact with both others. people who digital physical objects through an avatar, a virtual representation of ourselves.

An eloquent and dystopian depiction of the metaverse is featured in the 2018 sci-fi film “Ready Player One,” made by Steven Spielberg. But there is no lack of examples of real applications , albeit rudimentary, especially as regards video games. These are the so-called MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game), that is, online video games in which you interact with other gamers through an avatar.

The most famous are Player Unknown's Buttleground, Roblox, in which users can create real virtual worlds, decide who to access and who not, and even buy and sell items with the game's virtual currency, and Fortnite, in which they do not there are rare cases in which users have been able to attend virtual concerts of real artists, or participate in parties and events. But what characterizes all these applications is the sense of detachment, the awareness, that is, on the part of the player that everything he is witnessing is virtual, and is extraneous to everyday reality. Facebook, on the other hand, intends to create something very different.

The Facebook metaverse will be a virtual world in which you can do everything, or almost everything

Facebook

In a long interview with The Verge network on July 22, Zuckerberg talked about his idea of ​​a metaverse. You can imagine it as the direct successor to the mobile internet,” he said, “Imagine a materialized internet, where instead of just seeing the content you are in it. And you feel physically present with other people in other places “.

This is the key idea. Having the sensation of being physically in a certain place, a virtual place of which we perceive the spatiality and directionality of the sounds , the distances from objects and so on. A real virtual world, made up of study, work, meetings, shopping, sports and entertainment. It is only, says Zuckerberg, an evolution of what we already do with the smartphone, which will make the use simply more natural.

Many people, according to the founder of Facebook, spend most of their time looking at their smartphone, either to interact with people or to do anything else. But "looking at a grid of apps on these little glowing rectangles is not the way we humans are meant to interact." The metaverse would therefore be a tool for interacting with others in a more natural, more human way.

“Imagine,” he says, “that you are walking down the street, or walking into Starbucks, and having to speak to a co-worker. Instead of talking to him on the phone, you will see a hologram of his avatar, right next to you, and will see the same things that you see on the shared virtual screens, projected from your glasses, and with whom discorrerete in a natural and. Once the conversation is over, he will disappear in a snap of his fingers to go and do something else somewhere else ”.

Smart glasses are the main weapon that Facebook will rely on in the coming years, because they are more comfortable and natural to wear than classic augmented reality viewers, and because they can be worn anywhere, even walking down the street. But Zuckerberg isn't just about work. In his metaverse vision it will be possible to play sports, go to the theater, meet friends and visit any place you want, "by teleporting your avatar, with all the objects it possesses, in any place, at any time".

But, Zuckerberg reassures, it will not be a virtual world of Facebook, but a large ecosystem shared by all companies in the sector and by creators and developers, in which anyone can create content such as works of art, theatrical performances and events of all kinds . And there will also be room for the public sector, with libraries, museums, squares and parks. A virtual world of everyone and for everyone, in which if you log in via Facebook, or any app, you don't necessarily remain closed in this app, but you can go anywhere and do anything.

The keywords of the metaverse are, in fact, accessibility and interoperability. This at least in the intentions of the CEO of Facebook, who however is already preparing to play a role as an absolute protagonist, if not as a monopolist, of what he himself defines as "the supreme achievement of the mobile internet". "I expect that in five years, people will see us not as a social media company, but as a metaverse company," he said.

General evidence for the Facebook metaverse?

Facebook

There are three big clues that make us think that Facebook's metaverse may be closer than we think. The first is the purchase, already in 2014, by Facebook of VR Oculus, a world leader in the creation of high quality augmented reality viewers, and which already at the end of 2020 presented, under the Facebook brand, the ' Oculus Quest 2, the most advanced headset on the market.

The second is the presentation of the first model of smart-glasses, made by Facebook in collaboration with Ray-Ban and Essilor Luxottica, and which could be marketed as early as the end of the year.

The third, and perhaps the most eloquent, is the launch of the Horizon Workrooms platform, with which the top management of Facebook have been holding meetings and conferences for months, in a virtual environment that reproduces their offices and where they interact with each other through avatars. . While these avatars, as well as the reproductions of spaces and objects, are still not as realistic as in some science fiction films, this one looks like a very first glimpse of that metaverse described by Zuckerberg.

Curated by Andrea Savino .

Article Zuckerberg and the parallel universe: what the Facebook metaverse is and how it will work comes from Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .