In a recent interview with The Verge, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussed the future of the company and talked about creating a metaverse.
The company that started as a social network and later grew into a tech giant is now planning to create a whole new world of interconnected experiences a.k.a. the metaverse. In the interview, Mark said that first of all, it is important to understand that no matter how big a company's ambitions are, this is something no one can ever build singlehandedly and it has to involve many creators across the industry. The metaverse is more than having all of your technology interconnected, synchronized, etc. — it's about your experience with it, and essentially it is an "embodied Internet" where you are not simply observing the content — you can be in it.
For those who are about to say "but don't we already have that with AR and VR?", Mark explains that it goes above and beyond virtual reality experiences. Naturally, VR is a big part of the whole concept of the metaverse and right now, Facebook is invested in this area with its Reality Labs constantly working on new projects. As Facebook CEO says, "it’s the technology that delivers the clearest form of presence", however, the metaverse will not be just diving into VR, it will be accessible across all kinds of platforms including PC and mobile devices.
"I think that this is a persistent, synchronous environment where we can be together, which I think is probably going to resemble some kind of a hybrid between the social platforms that we see today, but an environment where you’re embodied in it," Mark Zuckerberg comments.
What Mark means is that the key element of the metaverse is the sense of presence, no matter what platform you are using. At present, most of us are on our smartphones nearly 24/7 which is not the most organic way for people to communicate. Being able to talk to anyone via chats, messengers, and online video meetings is awesome but it feels artificial to some extent anyway. Plus, it is a lot easier to forget or dismiss something we heard at, for instance, an online meeting via a video call as it is not perceived as an actual conversation. The thing Mark is planning to explore when creating the metaverse is teleporting. AR and VR are the first steps in the process of making online interactions feel more real, but making holograms a part of the users' average experience is one of the goals Facebook is hoping to achieve.
"You’ll be able to sit as a hologram on my couch, or I’ll be able to sit as a hologram on your couch, and it’ll actually feel like we’re in the same place, even if we’re in different states or hundreds of miles apart," says Mark.
Finally, to ensure the metaverse delivers all the experiences we'd expect from it and makes amazing things like hologram presence and teleporting possible, there have to be universal protocols used by the companies who contribute to the development of this "online reality". Mark says that interoperability and portability are the two characteristics creators have to keep in mind when building experiences for the metaverse.
"You have your avatar and your digital goods, and you want to be able to teleport anywhere. You don’t want to just be stuck within one company’s stuff. The software that we build, for people to work in or hang out in and build these different worlds, that’s going to go across anything. So I think part of this is, I think it’ll be good if companies build stuff that can work together and go across lines rather than just being locked into a specific platform," Facebook CEO explains.