For Meta’s product manager, the metaverse could be just as important as smartphones. But the technology is still missing something at the moment.
“The metaverse” is a very elastic term. For some, it’s the future: a new three-dimensional form of the Internet, and much more. Others devalue the term, using it as a buzzword to shuffle NFT collections.
The former Facebook company, now called Meta, belongs to the first group and is betting big on the development of the Metaverse and the virtual reality and augmented reality technologies that drive it. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Chris Cox, Chief Product Officer of Meta, explained the current shortcomings.
Is the Metaverse catching up with smartphones?
Meta has spent the last eight years developing a line of virtual reality products, according to Cox. It had to be affordable, accessible, and immersive enough to fit into anything. This means social experiments, fitness, games, medicine, drug development and product design.
With the Meta Quest 2 (test), they seem to have largely succeeded in doing just that. The Quest 2 is the most widely used VR headset and the most popular VR platform for developers. For the metaverse to ever become as important as the smartphone, however, Cox says something is still missing.
Meta says the metaverse needs to become more accessible
Cox sees today’s Internet as a model of a working metaverse. “I think the internet is a really good way to think about the metaverse, because parts of the internet are very consistent with each other,” Cox said during a panel discussion.
Today, he said, switching between apps on all devices is effortless. Instagram or Google Maps work the same on all devices, he said, and confusion is virtually eliminated. Such interoperability simply does not exist at the current stage of metaverse development.
Many calls for an open metaverse
In his opinion, Cox is in illustrious company. Experts regularly ask for rules for an open metaverse. The Khronos group, for example, advocates uniform metaverse standards. To minimize compatibility issues from the start, the Metaverse Standards Forum aims to bring the industry together and co-create interoperability standards for an open and inclusive metaverse.
Metaverse smith Neal Stephenson also wants an open metaverse. The author of Snow Crash even wants to contribute to it himself with his company Lamina1. Together with co-founder Peter Vessenes, he aims to lay the foundations of the metaverse and build an open source blockchain.