How AI, VR, AR, 5G and blockchain can converge to power the meta-verse

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New technologies including AI, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), 5G and blockchain (and related digital currencies) have all made progress on their own benefits and timeline. Each has found a degree of application, though AI has clearly come the furthest. Each technology matures as it overcomes challenges ranging from blockchain energy consumption to VR’s propensity to induce nausea. They are likely to converge in readiness over the next many years, supported by the now ubiquitous cloud computing for resilience and scale. And in that convergence, the sum will be far greater than the parts. The catalyst for this convergence will be the metaverse – a connected network of 3D virtual worlds that is always on.

The metaverse concept has far-reaching potential. On one level, it could be a 3D social media channel with messages targeted perfectly to any user of AI. That’s Meta’s (formerly Facebook) vision. It also has the potential to be an all-inclusive platform for information, entertainment and work.

There will be several metavers, at least in the beginning, with some tailored to specific interests such as games or sports. The key difference between the current technology and the metaverset is the immersive possibilities that the metaverset offers, which is why Meta, Microsoft, Nvidia and others invest so much in it. It may also be the next version of the Internet.

Instead of watching the news, you may feel like you’re in the news. Instead of learning history by reading about an event in a book – such as Washington crossing Delaware – you could almost watch the event from the shore or from a boat. Instead of watching a basketball game on TV, you could experience it in 360-surround. People could attend a conference virtually, watch keynotes and meet others. In the meta-verse, our digital presence will increasingly complement our real. According to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the metaverse can be the next best thing to a working teleportation device.

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Caption: Thanks to Time magazine, it is possible to experience the attack on Pearl Harbor through VR

As described by Monica White in Digital Trends, “Metaverset is designed to replace or enhance real-world functionality in a virtual space. Things that users do in their daily lives, such as attending classes or going to work, can all be done in the meta-verse instead. ” For example, the meta-verse could offer a whole new 3D platform for e-commerce. Imagine a virtual reality shopping experience where you almost walk around the hallways of a mega-store stocked by a host of platform partner companies tailored specifically to you, where advertising messages are designed with only you in mind and the only items displayed are those that are in stock and available to ship. In this store, sale items are selected based on your taste and expected needs, and value-based prices are updated dynamically in real time, based either on the product’s age (if a perishable item), supply and demand, or both.

First there was Second Life

While the meta-verse feels fresh and futuristic, we have been here before. In addition to the early visionaries Neal Stephenson and William Gibson, who described the metaverse in fiction, a very real metaverse was created in 2003. It became known as Second Life, and millions of people rushed to the platform to experience an alternative digital universe filled with avatars. NBC described Second Life as an “online virtual world where avatars do the kind of thing real people do in real life: Buy things. Sell things. Play. Listen to music. Buy real estate. Flirt. Play games. Watch movies. Have sex . ” Harvard University even taught online courses in Second Life. Second Life was so successful that it was the subject of a cover story in 2006 in BusinessWeek.

Caption: Second Life will be featured on the front page of BusinessWeek in May 2006.

Second Life’s popularity, however, declined shortly after. As described in a 2007 Computerworld article, the experience suffered due to a “poor user interface, robust technical requirements, a steep learning curve, an inability to scale, and numerous distractions.” And then Facebook came along and offered a more compelling experience.

In 2007, there was no VR, AR, 5G, blockchain or digital currency. Cloud computing was in its infancy and the mobile internet was still popping up when the first iPhone had just been introduced. Furthermore, artificial intelligence still had limited influence as the deep learning boom was still a few years away. Maybe that’s why Meta is now in love with the idea of ​​the meta-verse, as it seeks to combine the most compelling (and consumer-tested) elements from Facebook and Second Life, based on a brand new platform powered by the latest technology.

New technologies are almost ready

Several of the technologies that will enable the metaverse, including virtual and augmented reality and blockchain, have been slow to mature, but are approaching a level of capacity that is crucial to success. Each of them has lacked the killer app that will drive development and widespread use forward. Metaverset could be that app.

For VR, most headsets still need to be tied to a PC or game console to achieve the processing power and communication speed required for smooth and immersive experiences. Only Metas Oculus Quest 2 has so far been broken free of this cable restriction. But even that headset remains bulky, according to one of Meta’s VPs. With ever faster processors and wireless communication with higher speeds in the near horizon, better visual resolution and unbound experiences should emerge over the next few years.

AR has mostly achieved niche adoption. In part, the AR outlook probably suffered due to the high-profile market failure from Google Glass when it was introduced in 2012. And although Pokemon Go gave a huge boost to the technology in 2016, there has not been a similar phenomenon since. But a major new player is apparently poised to enter the market: Perhaps spurred on by the metaverse concept and competition from competitors, Apple is expected to release its first AR / VR headset by the end of 2022. Apple has a penchant for entering a market well after first movers have proven viability and then continue to dominate. It is a reasonable conclusion that this is the company’s plan for the metaverse.

Blockchain is the basis for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and would allow you to buy virtual goods and identities and seamlessly transfer between different metaverse platforms. New blockchain applications such as NFTs are leading to greater adoption, potentially pointing to a new economy. The Wall Street Journal reported that the race is now underway to extend this technology to all types of assets, adding that blockchain-based payments are superior to our old financial infrastructure. Similarly, the New York Times reported that venture capital funds have invested about $ 27 billion in crypto and blockchain companies by 2021, more than the previous 10 years combined.

Metaverse prospects

While some brands are already rushing to take advantage of the metaverse fever, the metaverse is likely to develop into seizures and start, with widespread adoption still years away. This is because the necessary technologies still have a way to go to optimize their functionality, usability and cost. A semiconductor company has said that a truly immersive metavers will require a 1,000-fold increase in computing efficiency compared to today’s advanced processors. Although it is a huge increase, the company presented separately at a recent “Architecture Day” that it expects to achieve this goal by 2025.

Whether it takes three years or 10 years, there is a huge momentum behind the meta-verse, with seemingly unlimited funding. Even at the current stage of development, Boeing has committed to designing its next-generation metaverse aircraft using digital twins and Microsoft HoloLens headsets.

Kirby Winfield, Founding General Partner of the VC company Ascend, sees the meta-verse as “the latest development of [an] ongoing shift to an increasingly digital life. “When it arrives in full, that shift will achieve many people’s immersive sci-fi visions.

Gary Grossman is Senior VP of Technology Practice at Edelman and global head of the Edelman AI Center of Excellence.

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