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KENZO TRIBOUILLARD via Getty Images The founder and CEO of the American social media and social networking service Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, in Brussels on February 17, 2020.


TECHNOLOGY – Amidst the turmoil after a global outage and embarrassing revelations from a former employee, Facebook wanted to communicate its plans for the future rather than current issues.

The social network indicated, on Monday 18 October, that it wanted to hire 10,000 people in the European Union to work on the development of the “metaverse”: a sort of parallel digital world that has become the new grail of Mark Zuckerberg, founder and boss of the giant of American social media.

If you haven’t followed this futuristic digital reality project with Facebook sauce, The HuffPost gives you a summary of what you need to know.

What is the “metaverse”?

If you’ve seen the movie Ready player One, you already have a good idea what it is. The “metaverses” are the equivalent of‘OASIS from Steven Spielberg’s film: a kind of substitute for the physical world, accessible via the Internet and connected interfaces, and in which we should be able to exist in the form of an avatar.

The term “metavers”, or “meta-universe”, literally means “beyond the universe”. This rapid extension of the Internet is made possible by the convergence of different technologies, so that an individual can experience a world in virtual reality, involve their body, experience emotions and sensations.

“Gradually, screens, holograms, VR headsets and augmented reality glasses should allow fluid movements of virtual universes in physical places, such as teleportersMark Zuckerberg explained on his Facebook profile.

What are the promises of the “metaverse”?

The “metaverse” is imagined by Facebook as a sort of “embodied internet” in which one becomes an actor of experiences and actions in a virtual universe, rather than just being an observer or consumer of content. “The essential quality of the metaverse will be the presence, the feeling of really being there with people,” Mark Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook profile in July.

In this virtual and immersive universe that Facebook intends to build, it could for example be possible to dance in a nightclub with people thousands of kilometers away, work, buy or sell digital goods or services. Clearly, the goal is to have a much more engaging and understanding digital social life, compared to what everyone is currently doing behind the screen of their computer or smartphone. A type of Second lifebut experienced through connected glasses.

Oculus Quest 2 is a virtual reality headset created by Oculus, a Facebook brand.  Successor to Oculus Quest, it was officially unveiled on September 16, 2020 during Facebook Connect 7.
Edward Berthelot via Getty Images Oculus Quest 2 is a virtual reality headset created by Oculus, a Facebook brand. Successor to Oculus Quest, it was officially unveiled on September 16, 2020 during Facebook Connect 7.

Edward Berthelot via Getty Images

Where is he from?

The term “metaverse” originally comes from a dystopian novel from the 1990s. The book “The Virtual Samurai”, written by Neal Stephenson in the early days of the Internet, sported a different definition from its current meaning. It featured “metaverse” users whose minds are trapped in a computer virus that directly infects their brains.

If the goal of the dystopian novel is to prevent, if only to scare away the future deviations of our societies, large digital companies have invested titanic sums in specific projects and technologies for the construction of “metaverses”, such as virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR).

The world reported that, according to the company IDC, “spending in this sector is expected to increase sixfold between 2020 and 2024, from 12 billion to 72 billion dollars”.

Why is Facebook interested in it?

Meta-universes are seen by the giants of the web and video games as the next big technological leap in the evolution of the Internet. And this is where Facebook is positioned, which wants to invent new forms of social interaction and experience within a “metaverse” that it is building from A and Z by defining its own settings.

Which makes sense for a company that was built by specializing in connecting Internet users, through its founding social network (Facebook) but also various applications acquired over the years, such as WhatsApp or Instagram.

“To realize our vision of metaversewe need to build the connective tissue between the (different) digital spaces, to overcome physical limits and be able to move between them with the same ease as between the rooms of his home ”, Mark Zuckerberg detailed on his Facebook profile.

To achieve this, Facebook puts a lot of resources. The Californian company bought the Oculus company for two billion dollars in 2014. Since then it has undertaken other projects related to the “metaverse”, in which several billion dollars have been invested.

Where are we today?

In concrete terms, it is already possible to experience some experiments concerning the Facebook “metaverse” project – but for the moment they are very limited. The Californian giant, for example, presented the Beta version of its Horizon Workroom application in August..

The goal is to create virtual reality meeting rooms using the Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset. Participants appear around a round table as custom avatars, interact via their microphone or draw on a whiteboard using remote controls.

Facebook and the Ray-Ban brand launched a pair of connected glasses in September. This digital gadget allows you to take photos and videos and connect to the social network.

However, the “Ray-Ban Stories” do not have an augmented reality system. But Facebook hopes to start familiarizing a growing number of people with these kinds of connected accessories (while Google and Snapchat have rather failed on the subject before).

Who else is interested?

For its part, the video game sector has already created the embryos of “metaverses”. This is for example the case with Fortnitewhich brings together 350 million players mainly aged 14 to 24, and who live, in the virtual platform, more and more online experiences that deviate from the initial concept of the battle royal game.

There have already been virtual concerts of the American rapper Travis Scott or Ariana Grande, which appear in the form of avatars. As of December 2019, the game also had organized an exclusive event on the occasion of the Star Wars promotion: The rise of Skywalker. Broadcast live, director JJ Abrams was present “in person” in the form of an avatar to preview an excerpt from the film.

Social isolation linked to the covid pandemic has also been a catalyst for this phenomenon. An executive of Epic Games, the publisher of fortnite, he had explained to the AFP at the end of March, That “in a moment like the present one, when meeting physically is more difficult, it is incredibly important to live these virtual experiences, ‘really think’Fortnite as a platform for connected social experiences and not just as a game “.

Roblox, an online game creation system where most of the content is created by the players themselves, also hosted a concert by American rapper Lil Nas X in November 2020.

“My first concert was in a stadium. My son’s first gig was Lil Nas X Roblox. Just because it happened in Roblox doesn’t make it any less real, ”Cathy Hackl, a technology consultant who advises companies on the“ metaverse ”.

See also onr The HuffPost: On Fortnite, the highly anticipated Ariana Grande concert delighted fans and players alike

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