Metaverse: five questions about the new virtual world of Facebook

Sent October 29, 2021, 1:21 pmUpdated October 29, 2021 at 3:31 pm

Strategic change on Facebook. Born as a social network, Mark Zuckerberg’s company no longer wants to be just a group of mobile applications. It now intends to become a metaverse company, even going so far as to rename itself “Meta” to celebrate its detailed ambitions on Thursday night. During an online conference, the billionaire boss unveiled his vision of a technology that can transform the Internet as we know it today. Explanations.

1. What is the metaverse?

Inspired by science fiction, and in particular by the novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson or “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline, the metaverse presents itself as a virtual and immersive online world. Everyone can live part of their life there, in the form of an avatar or hologram. For Meta, this universe promises more social contacts without moving, whether it’s organizing a business meeting, attending a fitness class or strolling into a pixel store. But the competition has other ideas: for Epic Games, the universe of the hugely popular game Fortnite already hosts virtual mini-concerts with 12 million spectators.

2. How do I access the metaverse?

As imagined by Mark Zuckerberg, the metaverse opens up to those equipped with electronic devices such as virtual reality headsets and augmented reality glasses. The former, like the Oculus Quest developed by Meta and sold for around $ 300, completely immerses the user’s gaze in a 3D setting. To move, it is also necessary to equip the controllers at the level of the hands. To get around, some imagine a treadmill system. In addition to Meta, HTC, Sony already have their own headphones. According to information from Bloomberg, Apple’s will be marketed in 2022.

By simply superimposing a digital image on the real view, augmented reality is considered by experts to be easier to adopt by the general public. As a form of gift of ubiquity, it will be possible to follow an event in the metaverse out of the corner of your eye while participating in a discussion in the physical world … Meta is also working on a pair of augmented reality glasses. He is not the only one. Microsoft already has its device with the Hololens. Apple is also expected in these technologies.

3. Who will build the metaverse?

Mark Zuckerberg wants to look good. The metaverse “is not limited to a single company, and each of us is necessary to make it happen”, he took care to emphasize in presenting Meta. But it is mainly aimed at small developers who will enrich the world of Meta with immersive experiences (commerce, culture, tourism, entertainment, etc.), as well as start-ups have multiplied the services available on smartphones in recent years. 2000s.

4. Who invests in the metaverse?

To create the structure these future partners will need – a virtual universe, an online payment system – Meta will invest $ 10 billion in 2021 alone. It will force a number of competitors to pull out.

Epic Games announced last spring that it had raised a billion dollars dedicated to developing its vision of the metaverse, in direct competition with Roblox, another video game company. Microsoft intends to create a “corporate metaverse”. Not to mention the many start-ups hoping to find a place there, like Improbable’s English.

5. Why are we talking about the metaverse again?

Like many science fiction dreams, the metaverse has already been born dead multiple times. Some believed it more than right in the 2000s, when the “Second Life” game seduced the crowd. At its peak, this virtual universe hosted IBM conference centers, American Apparel stores, political candidate hotlines, and one million simultaneous connections.

The game is still online but the excitement has quickly subsided, while the graphics experience of the game remains a bit grotesque. Also, the system became slow when too many Internet users connected to it at the same time. Today, the virtual and augmented reality experience is a game changer. All-online computing (“cloud computing”) would also make it possible to multiply simultaneous visits in this new world.

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