The technology just doesn’t exist yet, and the whole concept may not exist either.
In context: ask Zuckerberg, and obviously we are now living on the threshold of the Metaverse. Over the past year, the idea that we will all live in virtual worlds has become a foregone conclusion among investors. Since the stock market is no longer in the mood for Story Stocks, the heated rhetoric about the metaverse has subsided significantly, but we know that many still believe that the story of the metaverse causes a strong resonance.
How many people remember the last time the idea of a second world was a hot topic?
It wasn’t that long ago. In fact, the last time this idea was in vogue was during the last stages of the dotcom boom in the 1990s. People have been talking about this for a long time. Nowadays, the author of the book Neil Stevenson “Snow Disaster” is mentioned as the creator of the concept, but even he admits that he was not the first (note: “Snow Disaster” is still a great book worth reading).
Guest author Jonathan Goldberg is the founder of D2D Advisory, a multi-functional consulting firm. Jonathan has developed growth strategies and alliances for companies in the field of mobile devices, networks, games and software.
The best visual representation of this virtual world can be seen in the film by Michael Douglas/Michael Crichton’s 1994 “Disclosure”. (note: “Disclosure” is not a good movie, and it’s not worth watching.) For those affected by it, the virtual reality world underlying the film’s “plot” is painfully cumbersome. And, of course, there’s the classic Second Life website, which has done a lot of what today’s proponents of the metaverse are talking about (albeit in a lower resolution).
All this is a long way of saying that the idea of a metaverse has been around for a long time, and that we haven’t gotten to it yet can be explained by two main reasons.
Firstly, reproducing the real world in one form or another of digital modeling may not be the best way to organize digital activities. At the peak of last year’s metaverse frenzy, Walmart attracted a lot of online attention with its virtual reality shopping demo.
We don’t want to pile up, we thank them for their creative approach, but this video highlights the problems associated with the fact that virtual worlds are too skewomorphic, too similar to the real world. No one wants to go shopping walking down virtual aisles when they can just point and click on an Amazon app in normal reality. At the very least, all this talk about virtual reality requires a lot more work on the user interface. As the artist/musician Laurie Anderson put it, virtual reality will not seep into reality until they learn to add dirt to it.
“Virtual reality will not really leak until they learn to pour mud into it” — Laurie Anderson
The second problem is that the technology just doesn’t exist yet. We wrote about this many years ago in 2016 (and later in 2019). And although the industry has made some progress since then, they still have a way to go.
In fact, there are two varieties of the metaverse: the fully immersed virtual reality (VR) world, where the user wears a headdress and all images are digitally generated; and the augmented reality (AR) world, where users wear glasses that represent a digital overlay on top of the real world.
Admittedly, the industry has made significant progress with VR. Most people consider Oculus from Facebook/Meta to be a great product. There is a fair amount of software available for it, and the use cases have expanded beyond games to include remote desktops. And although most people who spend the day working in virtual reality glasses need a day to re-adjust to reality, it seems that virtual reality has made real progress.
On the contrary, AR is still under development, as it presents serious technical problems. For example, computing and the battery for augmented reality glasses still need significant miniaturization. Most of the implementations we’ve seen are either cumbersome or limited in functionality.
Placing a digital overlay on top of a real-world image is incredibly difficult. The graphics should be updated fast enough to ensure free head movement, otherwise the lag causes nausea when users simultaneously see two unsynchronized worlds. This requires huge graphics processing, which see above about miniaturization. It also requires very high bandwidth and low data latency.
This last part is probably the reason we hear so much about the metaverse personally. From our position, deeply rooted in the world of telecommunications networks, the solution to this problem with bandwidth and latency is 5G!
Telecom operators and especially their equipment suppliers are seizing every opportunity to extol the virtues of 5G (which are otherwise quite limited), and many of them have furiously seized on AR. Unfortunately, for them, 5G is only part of the solution, other technical problems, the necessary software and content are not ready yet.
We still think that all this will come someday, but the metaverse is still many years away.